Carbohydrates – the fuel for your body – if your protein is the car, carbohydrates are the gasoline. Carbs provide energy and during high intensity exercise the primary source of energy is glycogen (stored form of carb). In order to maintain a high intensity in workouts you must have enough glycogen stores to fuel your body, or the workout will become increasingly difficult. This is the main function of a carb, but there are other reasons they are necessary:
1. Supplying the nervous system with its preferred fuel – with optimal carb intake your nervous system function will be really efficient, which means better muscle recruitment, more fatigue resistance, which will directly encourage workout motivation. Fatigue is often related to the nervous system and when fueled properly with blood glucose intensity and duration are directly correlated.
2. Refueling Glycogen Stores – its storage in the muscle helps protein sythesis (growth). Low levels of glycogen cause muscle loss and affect the ability to grow muscle. Low carb/no carb diets, therefore, inhibit muscle growth.
3. Secreting Insulin – when carbs are eaten, insulin is secreted to the proportion of carbs that are in the blood after digestion (in the case of non-diabetics). Greater carb intake = greater insulin release from the pancreas. Insulin has a huge effect on muscle growth – when insulin is secreted into the blood it binds to target receptors on the muscle cell’s surface – it turns the cell’s muscle-growth on. Carb consumption causes a larger insulin response than other macro and is anabolic to muscle tissue. UNFORTUNATELY, carbs also have an anabolic effect on fat tissue and can cause unwanted fat gain – yes, carbs are necessary for muscle repair and growth, but too much can cause fat growth as well – seems complicated? Just follow your scientifically proven template – easy J!
Inadequate levels of carbohydrates cause a decrease in motivation because of the effects on the nervous and muscular system, decrease in performance because of low muscle glycogen levels and a direct decrease in muscle growth. So, how much is enough and how much is too much? 2 factors are used to determine how much: body weight and training volume, which is why we have templates for non, light, moderate and hard training days.
Too many carbohydrates not only effect body composition and increase fat cells, too much carbohydrate over long periods of time decreases insulin sensitivity – this leads to a high chance of fat growth and lower chance of muscle growth.
Adequate amounts of carbohydrates provide enough energy for exercise, anabolism and anti-catabolism (decrease in muscle mass), it also to keep insulin responses from becoming resistant and impinging on strength gains.
Optimal Daily Carbohyrates – this is on average, you may be slightly different:
Non-Training Days – <0.5g/lb of BW
Light Workouts – 1.0g/lb or BW
Moderate Workouts – 1.5g/lb of BW
Hard Workouts – 2.0g/lb of BW
SOURCE FOR FURTHER READING:
The Renaissance Diet – A Scientific Approach to Getting Leaner and Building Muscle, Dr. Mike Israetel with Dr. Jen Case and Dr. James Hoffman