With all the hype floating around the Internet and the banter flooding TV talk shows about the wonders of high-protein diets, you might think carbs are useless except for producing fat. You might also think that if you consume carbohydrates, they will undermine your attempts at building a better physique.
The fascination with high-protein diets is nothing new; the recent onslaught of carb bashing that has gone along with it, though, is both ignorant and counterproductive to building a healthy diet that is ideally suited to complement hardcore training.
Let's ditch the hype in favor of a concrete analysis of applying carbs to building muscle mass. Here are seven tips for incorporating these unfairly maligned nutritional nuggets into your muscle-building program.
#1 HIGH CARBS + HIGH PROTEIN = MORE MUSCLE
Consume plenty of carbs and protein when you are trying to build muscle mass. A carb deficiency during mass-building mode leads to protein degradation -- dietary protein is utilized for energy instead of muscle building. Mass gainers need at least 2.5 grams (g) of carbs for every pound of bodyweight to enable protein to be truly anabolic. When in mass-building mode, make sure you are taking in 1 to 1.5 g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
#2 CARBS + SODIUM AFTER TRAINING = GROWTH
Put a new spin on the old standby of packing in carbs after training: Restore glycogen by consuming a carb/sodium cocktail within 90 minutes after your workout. Sodium traps more water inside the muscles, which maximizes postworkout recovery and growth. Make sure to add 500 milligrams of sodium -- one-quarter teaspoon of salt -- to your posttraining meal.
#3 OPENING THE SIX-HOUR CARB WINDOW
Conventional wisdom dictates that it is best to consume a big carb meal -- along with protein -- within 90 minutes of completing a training session. Carbs consumed during this "90-minute window" trigger an increase in the release of insulin, which stops the breakdown of muscle tissue while stimulating the uptake of carbs by the muscles. Many bodybuilders do not know that muscles actually crave carbs for six hours after training. Here's how to give your body the carbs it needs: Eat a high-carb meal (two bagels with jam or honey) within 90 minutes after training and a second high-carb meal (two heaping cups of white rice or pasta) within the next four hours. Refined carbs such as juice, bagels, white rice and fat-free cookies or muffins work especially well in this insulin-triggering equation.
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