3 Reasons Why Carbs Are Important For Building Muscle

Despite what all the recent diet trends will tell you, if you truly want to maximize your athletic performance, energy levels, and mood, you should be consuming carbohydrates. As it turns out, having post-workout carbs could be hiding a few extra benefits.

Let’s take a closer look.

1. Carbs replenish the lost glycogen.

Your workout efforts are primarily fueled by the glycogen in your muscles and liver. The longer and more demanding a workout is, the more fuel you’ll spend. Once the workout is done, you need carbs to replenish the lost glycogen.

And here’s the exciting part:

Muscle glycogen is synthesized more rapidly if we consume carbs shortly after training. That rate of synthesis can drop by as much as 50% if we don’t consume carbs for a couple of hours after exercise.

This hides an extra benefit:

Research suggests that until our bodies replenish the lost glycogen, none of the carbs we consume are stored as fat. Meaning, the ideal time to consume most of our carbs is before the workout (to fuel it) and afterward (to replenish lost glycogen).

The mechanism of glycogen replenishment also triggers benefit #2.

2. Post-training carbs could enhance muscle growth. 

You see, stored glycogen also pulls water into your muscle cells. For every gram of glycogen stored, you also store 2 to 3 grams of water. 

This increases your muscle cells volume which has been theorized to accelerate muscle growth. Plus, you also need to take insulin into account.

Consuming carbs spikes your insulin levels which then helps direct nutrients toward muscle cells for absorption and suppresses post-exercise increases in cortisol.

3. Eating carbs after a workout kickstarts the recovery process.

Both of the above benefits directly tie into the process of recovery.

Glycogen replenishment and insulin shuttling nutrients into the muscle cells kickstarts the process of repair and growth of the damaged tissue. 

This suppresses the catabolic environment brought about from training and instead induces anabolism – growth and strengthening of different tissues.

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