Whenever you hear someone talk about muscle-building nutrition, it’s always protein, protein, protein. It does have amazing effects because it’s composed of amino acids, but when you look at the bigger picture, growing muscle tissue doesn’t just come from protein. You also need to eat a lot of carbs to get the job done. Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles in glycogen deposits, and they can help your body stay in the anabolic state, which builds muscle tissue, while avoiding catabolism altogether.
Well provisioned glycogen deposits are vitally important to the muscle building process – even if you eat a lot of protein, even more than you need, you still can’t create muscle mass if you don’t have full glycogen deposits. If they are full though, your body will recuperate faster after a workout and it will grow more muscles too. So why don’t people eat carbohydrates instead of protein to build muscle? Simple – too many carbs means you’re going to get more bodyfat and you want to put them in your glycogen stores instead of in your fat stores. Here’s how to do that.
1. Eat Six Meals Per Day
When you eat more meals per day your body stores more glycogen in your muscles and less in your body fat. As an example, if you eat 300 grams of carbs per day in three meals, your body will digest 100 grams of carbs at a time, leading it to put some in your muscle glycogen stores and some in your body fat stores. When you eat the same amount over double the number of meals, which is 50 grams of carbs per meal, more of it will go into muscle glycogen instead of in your fat deposits.
2. Remember Your Training
If you eat carbs before working out, they go straight into the energy spent while exercising and you get practically no muscle tissue breakdown. This means you should always have some pre-workout carbohydrates to give you the energy you need, and don’t worry – almost none of them are stored in your body fat. If you eat carbs after working out, you will refill your glycogen stores before you put anything in your fat deposits. Any time when carbs are helping your body keep itself in the anabolic stage, they are not making you fat. This means that carbs before and after working out are a must.
3. Determine Your Insulin Sensitivity
There is no need for a blood test to figure out your insulin sensitivity, which is just another way of saying what the capacity of a human body is, when it comes to handling carbohydrates. If you get tired or they smooth out your physique, you are probably more insulin resistant than your average Joe. This means that your body creates a lot more insulin than someone else’s who can eat a lot of carbs and not get fat while doing it. Insulin resistance means that you shouldn’t eat any refined carbohydrates, sugar, juices, cold cereals, white rice or mashed potatoes. Slow-burning carbohydrates are your friend here – get some red potatoes, brown rice, pasta, buckwheat noodles and yams instead. They burn more slowly and will put that energy in your glycogen storage instead of your body fat stores by simply keeping insulin in your blood on a moderate level.
4. Change the Way You Eat Carbs
When you eat small amounts of carbs, your body gets wacky – your muscles start craving more carbs but it’s okay because it has more potential to utilize them correctly instead of just putting them in your fat deposits. This way, when you start eating more carbs again, they will go straight into your glycogen stores in your muscles, which means you will look buffer and better. This starts a chain reaction that ends with your muscles creating more muscle tissue due to protein synthesis, so reducing the amount of carbs for a few days can be very beneficial to your body. However, make sure that you eat more protein to protect yourself from muscle breakdown, which can be caused by a lessened carb intake.
5. Supplement With Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) boosts your muscle glucose uptake by acting as insulin and pushing nutrients into your cells. When you take this antioxidant supplement, the carbohydrates in your blood will transfer to your glycogen stores far more effectively, which means more muscle growth and more power, while keeping valuable grams of fat off your body. Take 100-200 milligrams of ALA three times a day with meals rich in carbohydrates.
6. Acetic Acid Can Be Your Friend
You can find acetic acid in your regular, household vinegar. It’s a legendary supplement with some benefits. People used to use it for increasing their appetite, reducing fatigue and increasing the body’s ability to absorb minerals. Also, vinegar lets you absorb more calcium and in recent animal studies has demonstrate the ability to augment glycogen formations which reduces fatigue. It can also help your body push carbs into muscles instead of into fat, which makes you tired. Put a few tablespoons of vinegar in your pre and post workout meals for best effect.
7. Use Omega-3s
Omega-3 are fatty acids found in flaxseed and fish oil, and they can help your muscles prime better for the impending anabolic effects of insulin. Your body will create and release more insulin in your blood when you eat carbs, and it has an anabolic effect in the sense of pushing carbs into your muscles, but it can also push nutrients towards your body fat stores, thereby boosting enzymes that intensify the creation of body fat. Omega-3 fatty acids counter this by allowing muscles to draw carbs towards them with insulin, instead of the insulin driving the nutrients to your body fat stores. This will boost your glycogen storage and reduce the ability of insulin to push nutrients into fat. 5-6 grams of omega-3s is recommended every day.
You can’t get your muscles to grow without eating carbs – this is a known fact and the biggest dietary dilemma among all nutrition and gym people. The trick is to get your body to use those carbs to build muscle instead of using them for body fat storage and taking you back a few steps. I’ve seen a lot of people failing to get carbs to work for them and having to trick their body into using carbs for muscles and energy instead, but it always works. Just follow these seven tips and you will be able to create every gram of muscle that you desire, without the added unwanted body fat.