Posted 1 month ago

Stopping hating on carbohydrates and start utilising them

In this day and age where evidence-based information is so readily available, I’m still baffled every time I speak to someone who has a complete misconception about carbs, and still believes they are the enemy of physique development. This is so far removed from the truth as, in fact, if you don’t use carbs properly then you are missing out on an amazing macronutrient that can support your performance and growth.

I’m going to explain why carbs are so important for you and your results.

ADHERENCE

Before we get technical, we all know that your ability to adhere to a diet plan is the main thing needed to achieve results. Therefore, reducing your carbs to unsustainable low levels is going to make day to day life a lot harder: your energy levels will be lower, planning your nutrition will be harder, and the likelihood of you giving in and going into “fuck it” mode will be higher. Therefore, don’t set yourself the unrealistic target of removing all carbs for fat loss – keep them in, stick to your diet, and you’ll get there!

PERFORMANCE

Carbs are the primary food source for fuelling weight training sessions, so we want to be using them to make sure that you are flying into your sessions with a lot of energy! Having carbs pre- and/or intra-workout will also mean you can get through your entire session without tiring out.

CONTRACTION

Even a gym beginner will know that we need to contract muscles when training – it’s the primary task in bodybuilding!! In fact, I’d go as far as saying that it’s all we need to do as bodybuilders: contract muscles under heavy load, as this will help us build and maintain muscle tissue. Contractions are powered by glucose, which is obtained from dietary carbohydrates – or in simpler terms, carbs help you contract and power muscles. Therefore, why would you skip them and miss out on their benefits?

RECOVERY AND BUILDING MUSCLE

After training, our muscles have essentially taken a beating and the muscle tissue has been broken down during this time frame. Now, we all know that protein will help repair the broken muscle tissue – this is why people drink a protein shake 0.35s after finishing their workout (p.s. don’t do that!). However, the benefit of taking in carbs at the same time is often overlooked when in fact, carbs are helpful in shuttling that protein into your muscles in the post-workout window.

Specifically, carbs post-workout will help fill up your glycogen stores. Equally, intaking a dose of carbohydrates post-workout will cause blood glucose to rise and your body to secrete insulin; insulin is a hormone that works as a lock-and-key, so when the insulin comes into the system, it will unlock the muscle cells and open them up to receive nutrients and therefore, recover and grow.

I could continue to list the benefits of carbohydrates, but at the end of the day, the bottom line is that they’re a crucial macronutrient for physique development. You wouldn’t eliminate protein from your diet, would you? So, eat up, utilise those carbs, and let’s be real: getting in shape while eating foods that taste good is always more fun, right?

Ally Burdge