In the bodybuilding community there is a saying going around. High protein – low carbohydrates is what gets you results. This is only made more apparent in most of the supplements on the market. Mostly all of them have high protein contents and very low carbohydrates. It’s almost as if we have become scared of carbohydrates and believe it is going to make us fat.
What’s the truth about carbohydrates?
I think we have been bombarded with so many ways of gaining muscle that we sometimes believe whatever the media wants us to believe or we get confused between two options such as cutting vs. Bulking. It is true that having a lower carbohydrate diet with a high protein will cause you to burn fat; however a low carbohydrate diet with high protein will have you struggling to build muscle.
This happens because carbohydrates are your main source of fuel when it comes to powering your body and giving you energy. When we don’t have enough we feel tired and this is not going to help you in the gym. Also when you run out of carbohydrates to fuel your muscles they turn on to themselves and start dissolving your hard earned muscle to give you energy.
Carbohydrates are very important if you want to bulk up. Yes, you still need a lot of protein but you also need a lot of carbohydrates. Your body will first use the carbohydrates for energy leaving the protein to do its job of recovery to your muscles. You will feel much stronger, last longer and recover faster.
How many carbohydrates do I need to build muscle?
In order to build muscle accurately you will first need to know how much calories your body needs to burn in order to maintain your current body weight. You can use the following calculator to this exactly this and calculate your BMR (Basal metabolic rate).
Once you know how many calories you need you will add 10% to that for growth. Your carbohydrate intake should then be about 44% of your total calorie intake in grams.
So as an example say you need 3255 calories a day to add on muscle. This means that you will need to multiply this number by 0.44 to get 44%. 3255 x 0.44 = 1432.2 and because each gram of carbohydrates contributes to 4 calories we divide this by 4 which gives us 1432.2 / 4 = 358g.
So this means a person needing 3255 calories a day needs about 358g of carbohydrates a day to pack on muscle.
If this sounds confusing you can always make use of our free online GymTracker to do it all for you with your having to calculate anything.
Getting ready for competition
Without enough carbohydrates your muscle building days will be long and slow. To build muscle you need carbohydrates and to cut fat you can lower carbohydrates. However at most you should only cut back on carbohydrates for no more than 3-10 weeks. Most bodybuilders only do this when a competition is approaching and they need that cut look. Other than that carbohydrates are KING!