The Carb Rules

If you ask
20 bodybuilders about carb intake, you will likely get 20 different theories.
Suffice it to say, there is a wide variety of opinion on how to manipulate
carbs properly to either gain mass or lose fat. To get a handle on this controversial
subject, I have compiled a list of facts, tips and suggestions to allow you to
gain mass without adding unwanted fat.

1. Eat Complex Carbs

Carbohydrates should comprise the bulk of your daily caloric intake because
they form muscle glycogen – the fuel for arduous training sessions. Focus on
unprocessed complex carbohydrates like yams, potatoes, whole grain breads,
oatmeal and brown rice. Why? These natural complex carbs are made of long
chains of sugar and are digested very slowly. Slow burning carbs promoted
consistent blood sugar levels, which help to offset fatigue while promoting the
release of insulin – the body’s principal anabolic hormone. Men can project
daily carb intake, in grams (g) by multiplying their bodyweight by three; women
should multiply bodyweight by two. For example, a 200 pound man should consume
600g of carbs daily, while a 125 pound woman should consume 250g.

2. Eat

Benefits of fiber include making muscle tissue more responsive to anabolism by
improving sugar and amino acid uptake, and aiding in muscle glycogen formation
and growth. Beans and oatmeal are two excellent sources of fiber.

3. Stagger your Carb Intake

Divide your carb meals into six distinct servings throughout the day. This
divide and conquer approach stimulates a steady release of insulin to create an
anabolic (muscle building) state. If you eat too many carbs in one sitting, the
net effect is that fat-storing enzymes kick into high hear and you lose than
lean and hard look.

4. Eat Simple Carbs After Training

Honey, sugar and refined foods such as white bread and white rice – typical
simple carbs – are digested quickly and easily. The resulting insulin spike is
a double edged sword, however. After training, it can prevent muscle catabolism
while promoting anabolism. If you have not been working out, the intake of
simple carbs can stimulate fat storage.

5. East More Carbs After Training

This edict is the corollary to tip #4. A high carb intake at your post training
meal will have less chance of being stored as fat, as carbs must replenish
depleted glycogen levels before they gain the ability to stimulate fat storage.
Eat about 25% of your daily carbs at this meal.

6. Eat a Carb-loaded Breakfast

Besides the post training meal, breakfast is the other golden time to ingest
carbs, because blood sugar and muscle glycogen levels are low from your
overnight fast. Your body must replenish these levels before stimulating the
fat storing machinery in the body.

7. Use Supplements to Assist Carbs with Insulin Utilization

Chromium, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and Alpha Lipoic Acid all increase a
muscle’s ability to use insulin. Supplement your breakfast with 200 micrograms
of Chromium, four grams of Omega-3s and 100 milligrams of Alpha Lipoic Acid.

8. Minimize Fruit Intake

Though low in calories and rich in vitamins, fruit is problematic for dieting
bodybuilders for one reason: it contains fructose, a simple sugar, which is
converted into glycogen in the liver. There, it can be readily used as a
building block for fat synthesis.

9. Avoid carbs after hours

Unless you are blessed with a superfast metabolism, you should forget about
eating baked potatoes late at night. Late night carbs interfere with the
release of growth hormone and promote fat storage while you sleep.

10. Mix carbs and protein in the same meal

Combining carbs and proteins minimizes the risk of carbs being stored as fat.
Eating protein with carbs facilitates the transport of amino acids from protein
foods into the muscles to trigger new growth.

11. Rotate carbs for fat loss

Bodybuilders who rotate their carb intake tend to lose more fat than
bodybuilders who maintain a steady flow of carbs while dieting. For example,
instead of eating 600g of carbs every day (the typical daily total for a 200 pound
bodybuilder), try varying the volume of intake. Eat 50% fewer carbs (300g) for
two days, then the standard 600g for the next two days, then 50% more (900g)
for the next two days, The total carb intake is the same, but this schedule
works because it lowers muscle glycogen in the first stage (promoting fat
loss), and then increases insulin levels (ensuring no loss of muscle) on the
final two days. Carb rotation gives you the best of both worlds: decreased fat
with no loss of muscle.

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