Good Carbohydrates For Effective Muscle Building
In this article you will learn the basics about good carbohydrates and the different forms they come in, so that you know which ones to focus on for your muscle gain diet.
What Are Carbohydrates
Firstly, what exactly are carbohydrates? To put it simply, they are the body's preferred source of energy. For those who are interested, carbs consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The carbon unites with the oxygen in the bloodstream to produce energy.
Anyways, what you need to know is that carbohydrates come in two different types. There are simple carbs which consist of sugar, and complex carbs which are either starches or fiber.
When your body digest carbs, they are all converted into glucose (except fibrous carbs). Glucose is a simple sugar that the body uses for energy. So when the glucose is formed from the carbohydrate source, it enters the bloodstream and causes your pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin is used to stabalize the amount of glucose in your blood.
Simple carbs are digested the fastest, meaning that the level of glucose in your blood will increase fairly dramatically over a short period of time. With this comes a large spike of insulin. The problem with simple carbs is that eating too much can promote fat storage in the body, because when your body has too much glucose it turns it into extra body fat.
There are certain times when simple carbs are a source of good carbohydrates for building muscle. As an example, directly after your weight training workouts your glycogen levels have been depleted and they need replenishing. At this time all the extra carbs won't be stored as fat because your body needs it. Insulin is also needed immediately following a workout to promote protein synthesis.
Complex carbs are digested much slower than simple carbs. The insulin release that you get from these carbs are slow and gradual, therefore giving your body a steady supply of energy to work with. Complex carbohydrates should be the focus of your diet, whether you are trying to gain muscle or lose fat.
The Glycemic Index
Ok, so you understand the difference between simple and complex carbs. That's great, but here's the confusing part. Not all simple carbs cause a large insulin spike, and not all complex carbs are digested slowly. Confusing isn't it!
For example, potatoes are a complex carbohydrate and so you would think that they are slowly digested. Wrong! They can cause a large insulin spike like a simple carb would.
That's why the Glycemic Index (GI) was created. This index rates different carb sources based on how fast they cause a rise in blood glucose levels. The higher the GI of a carb, the faster that carb enters the bloodstream and the higher the insulin spike.
So What Are Good Carbohydrates
For a muscle building diet you can eat most types of carbs, but the majority of your carbs should come from lower GI sources for best results. You can eat higher GI carbs but just try to limit your intake of them, unless it's part of your post workout meal.
On the other hand if you're trying to lose fat, then you need to be a bit more restricting of your carb intake. Aim for plenty of fibrous carbs and all other carbs with a GI of less than 60.
Some great sources of carbohydrates are whole grains, brown rice, potatoes, oats, and pasta. And some excellent fibrous carbs are broccoli, sweet corn, and black beans. Read about my top 3 sources of carbohydrates to include in your diet.
Anyways, hopefully you have learned a little bit about carbs so that you know which are good carbohydrates and which should be avoided.