Using carbohydrates to store usable energy and boost athletic performance is a technique that athletes have relied on for many years. It seems counterintuitive, especially if you’ve learned that carbs are the “enemy.” The fact is, carbohydrates are your body’s main source of usable fuel. If you consume more than you use, naturally you’re going to put on fat. So the question is: “How to carb load for bodybuilding?”
How to carb load for bodybuilding
Using the calories you take in, and most critically – timing your use of these fuels – you can use carb loading to enhance performance at the gym and in competitions.
Because timing and a commitment to your workouts are key to making these strategies work, any hiccup in your regimen can throw off your metabolism. Fortunately, there are some great supplements available, such as Carb Burn Boost, to help you get through the lapses in your regimen.
Carb Load Diet Definition
The carbohydrate-loading diet, or carb-loading diet, is a method of increasing the amount of usable fuel stored in the muscles to boost athletic performance for athletic events that require endurance.
Carb loading is done by eating a high-carbohydrate diet while curtailing your activity prior to an athletic event.
Physical activity requires carbohydrate fuel. Ordinarily, your body draws on stored energy for fuel. But during prolonged athletic events, the body requires extra energy to keep going. Carbohydrate loading can provide the energy needed to complete an endurance-intensive event with reduced fatigue while improving performance.
The Purpose of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates, a.k.a. starches and sugars, are the body’s primary energy source. Complex carbohydrates can be found in grains, legumes, potatoes, peas, corn, and the like. Simple carbs are found in fruits, milk, candy, and other sweets.
During digestion, the body turns carbohydrates into sugar, which enters your bloodstream where it delivers energy to cells. Sugar is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver for later use.
Whether you want to lose fat or gain muscle, you won’t have to sacrifice your physique. The trick is timing, and not letting your carb storage go to waste (pun intended). Using these strategies, you can maintain low body fat year-round. Wondering how to carb load for bodybuilding? Here’s how it works.
Method One: Carb Night Recalibration
If you want to develop a lean and strong physique, a carb night will take advantage of your body’s hormonal rhythms to help shed fat and increase strength.
10-Day Metabolism Recalibration
Begin with a 10-day ultra-low-carb diet. Eat no more than 30 grams of carbs each day. Keep starches and sweets to a minimum.
Late afternoon on your 10th day, you can start eating carbs. You can have whatever you like: pizza, pasta, French fries, anything. High-glycemic carb sources like these are preferable to sweet potatoes or rice at this point. The idea is to replenish your carb stores and activate your metabolism. For best results do your Carb Night on a strength-training day.
By now you will have switched over from using carbs as fuel to burning fat. Return to your recalibration menu at 30 grams of carbohydrates per day and have a weekly carb night. Remember, it’s a carb “night” – not a 24-hour carb binge.
How do you carb load for bodybuilding on the long term? Once you achieve 10% body fat, you may need two carb nights a week to save your muscle and keep your metabolism going strong.
Method Two: Carb Backloading
Many successful athletes use carb back-loading to get lean and gain muscle. The idea is to limit carb intake to the evening. Carbs make muscle and fat cells grow – often simultaneously. By changing when you eat carbs, you can control which grows, and when.
The carb night method can be effective, even without training. Carb backloading, however, requires strength training to work. The body’s sensitivity to insulin is at its peak in the morning and troughs in the afternoon. If you raise insulin by eating carbs, you can impair your ability to burn off fat for the rest of the day. Even worse, you may begin to produce cortisol – a hormone responsible for weight gain.
For all these reasons, the majority of your carb intake should be in the evening. That answers many issues about scheduling your carb load for bodybuilding. A weight-training workout right before eating carbs will maximize your ability to store sugars in your muscles. Studies have shown that strength training allows muscles to burn and store sugar for hours after training. That means it will be absorbed quickly by the muscles you have trained so they can recover and grow.
How to Do Carb Backloading
- Deplete Your Carbs
This phase is similar to the recalibration period that precedes carb night, but shorter. Limit your carbs to 30 grams for five to six days.
- Start Gaining
What you eat and when should depend on when you train. Afternoon/evening training is ideal. Keep your carbs low until after noon — 30 grams or less. Begin strength training between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Then have a post-workout shake rich in carbs and continue eating carbs until bedtime. Again, just like on your carb night, you can have anything you like.
If you do your workouts in the morning, you should eat a small amount of carbs following your workouts and use supplements that help spike insulin. This will enable you to recover from your workouts without derailing your backloading hormonal rhythms. That evening, beginning around six, eat your carbohydrates, but stick to the less sugary sources such as rice and potatoes.
On days you don’t train with weights (including days you just do cardio), limit carb intake to one late-day meal.
Confused about the proper way on how to carb load for bodybuilding? You do not have to follow a specific regimen during your carb nights or carb backloading. Remember, nutrition is the most important component of fitness, so be certain you commit fully to one strategy or the other and make sure to have good post workout nutrition by eating plenty of healthy proteins and vegetables.
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