When we talk about bodybuilding, the subject that often comes back to the table is protein . Which is a bit normal since these are the building blocks for the muscles. But we rarely talk about carbohydrates, and yet these nutrients are of paramount importance. Indeed, carbohydrates serve as the main fuel for the muscles and, without them, it is much more difficult to make the necessary efforts that will lead to muscle growth. It is therefore essential to ensure that you have a proper diet, not only in protein and fat, but also in carbohydrates. And this is around training or rest days.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates, also known as “sugars” or “carbohydrates”, are the nutrients that are the easiest fuel to use for the body, while lipids are slower and more difficult to mobilize. This may explain the difficulty in losing fat during dieting . Yet, the carbohydrate reserves of the body are low. We can find these sugars circulating in the blood, but also in the form of glycogen stored in the muscles and liver. However, when these reserves are exhausted, we suffer a great fatigue which limits the sports performances.
Conclusion: to be able to push the limits of effort, you have to provide the body with a greater supply of carbohydrates. But carbohydrates also have their importance outside the sports effort since they also serve as a source of energy for the functioning of our organs and to regenerate the muscles or to build new ones.
The glycemic index
Before continuing, it is important to distinguish carbohydrates through the Glycemic Index . This index is fairly recent and replaces the notions of slow and fast sugars. It represents the ability of a food to increase blood glucose. If you consume a sugar with a high GI, it will quickly end up in the blood and will raise the glucose level in a powerful way. The body will then react by releasing a large dose of insulin in order to store the glucose circulating in the blood. It will store it in the form of glycogen but also fat.
While, if you consume a sugar with a low GI, its absorption will continue longer, the insulin response will be lower and glucose can serve longer fuel.
It is quickly understood that high GI sugars are not to be consumed outside of training because they will be misused, cause reaction hypoglycaemia and will be stored as fat. In addition, too frequent consumption of this type of carbohydrate may increase the risk of developing diabetes.
The carbohydrate needs
As noted above, the athlete needs to boost their carbohydrate reserves in order to have enough fuel to continue the effort. And he also needs a sufficient supply out of the training to cover the needs of the body, even to exceed them so that it agrees to build additional muscle. There are several ways to achieve these goals.
The first is, first of all, to consume low Glycemic Index sugars during the day. Indeed, thanks to a steady supply of the right amount of this type of carbohydrate, you will provide enough fuel to your body to meet its vital needs but also to support muscle building that also requires energy. And thanks to this, the body will be careful not to draw too much on its reserves of glycogen, which will be preserved for your future sports efforts.
The second way concerns the feeding around the training or the sporting event. Again, the important thing is to preserve your glycogen stores. For that you will have to circulate glucose in your blood. But this time, in full effort, the body will claim much more fuel and it will have to provide a sugar quickly absorbed. This is where high GI carbohydrates come in. You can eat this type of carbohydrate a little before exercise and especially during this one. Thanks to this, your muscles will be able to tap into this fuel without feeling the weakening due to a lack of energy. In addition, your reserves will be preserved and your recovery will be faster.
The different carbohydrate supplements
When we talk about low GI sugar, we talk about carbohydrates that can be found in food. These are, for example, the carbohydrates of pasta and whole rice, oat flakes but also legumes. In the form of supplements, one will be able to consume powdered oats even if its GI will increase then.
On the other hand, when one evokes the high IG, to take during the effort, one can not really draw in the usual food since the digestion will be difficult then. We must then turn to the supplements. The most used are dextrose, maltodextrin, Vitargo and Waxy maize, all of which are in the form of powder for dilution and are quickly absorbed by the body. The Vitargo and Waxy Maize are probably the fastest, but they are also more expensive.
The drinks of the effort
You can quite buy commercially made energy drinks, but it is cheaper to do them yourself.
For this, you simply need water, a little salt and one of the carbohydrate supplements mentioned above. The dosage of sugar must then be between 60 and 80g per liter of drink, and you must consume about 750ml per hour, in small sips. This will cover your needs during your session.