Forget Keto, Paleo and Atkins – Carbs are Crucial to Gaining Strength and Building Muscle
Unless you’re really clued up on your nutrition, you might not appreciate just how important carbs are for a successful training regime.
We all know we need carbs for a balanced diet, right? But do you know exactly why? And do you know exactly how important they are, and why you should never follow a low carb diet when you’re trying to pack on muscle?
Today we’re going to dive deep into carbs and explain how they fuel muscle growth, recovery and workout endurance. We’ll look at what carbohydrates are, what they do, and discuss some of the benefits of using carbohydrate supplements to fast track bulking and help build more lean muscle.
Jump down the page to read more about this supplement.
Table of Contents
What is a Carbohydrate?
OK, so when we said we were going deep into carbohydrates, we’re not going to go deep deep. This isn’t a science lesson, we’re here to examine what carbs are and what benefit they have in the context of building muscle.
Carbohydrates are one of three food groups called macronutrients. No prizes for guessing the other two – they’re protein and fat of course.
Every single calorie you eat is made up of one or more of these three macronutrients. But you know all this already, right?
You probably also know that there are simple and complex carbohydrates, right?
But what’s the difference? Maybe we should expand on that a little before we move on, it’s kind of important.
All carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars during digestion.
Carbs that contain one or two types of sugar are called simple carbohydrates. These are the ones you find in candy, soda and table sugar.
They’re quickly absorbed and can cause sudden energy bursts and spikes in blood sugar, leading to type 2 diabetes. This is not what we want.
Complex carbohydrates are ones that contain three or more sugars. Foods classed as ‘complex carbs’ include cereals, vegetables, pulses, nuts etc. Whole, healthy foods basically.
These types of carbs are the ‘good’ ones as they offer slow releasing energy along with dietary fiber and other nutrients.
On the other hand, simple carbs offer little to no nutritional benefit and are easy to binge on, leading to an excess of glucose and glycogen (which we’ll talk about in a minute) and ultimately weight gain.
Ultimately, if you’re choosing an overall winner between simple and complex carbs – it’s going to be complex carbohydrates all the way.
What are Carbohydrates for?
As we said, when you eat a carbohydrate, your body breaks it down into simple sugars and uses it for energy.
All the different sugars are transported to the liver via your bloodstream and converted to glucose, which is your primary fuel for pretty much everything!
Any excess glucose can be stored, either in the liver or in muscle tissue, in the form of glycogen. Glycogen particles release glucose molecules when needed and these produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) through oxidization.
If you know anything about creatine, you’ll know why ATP is so critical to gaining strength and size. It is literally the only fuel your muscles have to flex and contract in the ways they need to when you’re trying to bulk and add lean muscle mass.
If your body runs low on glucose and you don’t have any stored glycogen, you’re going to feel the effects very quickly. This is why replenishing your glycogen stores by eating around 50% of your calories from carbs is vital to maintaining an intensive training routine.
A lot of fashionable diets tend to avoid carbs, but they’re a vital part of a balanced nutrition intake. Not only do they provide your body’s preferred fuel source, they also stop protein from being used as fuel and enable fat to metabolize better.
Why Carbohydrates are Crucial for Building Muscle
Carbohydrates support high physical performance in a number of important ways.
That’s why endurance athletes are known to load up with huge portions of pasta and other carb sources the night before an event. And that’s why they continue to take in carbs regularly throughout the event if they’re competing at the level of ironman challenges or ultra-marathons.
The science supports this carb-loading, of course. For intensive resistance training, plentiful glycogen ensures your muscles enjoy a constant supply of that all-important ATP. Studies have shown the reverse of this to be true also, that low glycogen levels can negatively impact high intensity exercise performance.
For endurance athletes, who must maintain a moderate to intense level of exertion for long periods of time, having more glycogen available means they can maintain their output for longer. Exhaustion occurs when glycogen is depleted.
Glycogen can help you recover faster from exercise too. In fact, reloading your body with glycogen in between training days will set you up better for the next session than a big hit of protein. This is because although protein is important for muscle growth, glycogen is more important for muscle refueling.
For best results, take both. More on that later.
Also, and perhaps most importantly, glycogen has been shown to affect muscular performance, even accounting for all other available forms of energy. What we mean by this is that you could have as much as you like of everything else your muscles need to work. But if your glycogen levels are low, your performance is still going to suffer.
Carb supplements are a great way to get a higher volume of carbohydrates into your body every day.
You could just eat more carbohydrate-rich food. But the time and money spent preparing such a high volume of food (top end athletes need to eat around 1kg of carbs per day!) makes carb supplements a great option.
It’s also a lot easier to monitor and control your carb intake with supplements.
You can plan exactly how much you are going to have, and this might vary if you’re taking it before or after a workout, or on a rest day.
Carb supplements generally come in powdered form and there are three main varieties;
- Dextrose – pure glucose that is absorbed very quickly, but can cause spikes in your blood sugar
- Maltodextrin – a complex carb that is digested and absorbed more slowly than dextrose and doesn’t contain sugar. This means it is better tolerated by those sensitive to sugar but lacks flavor.
- Waxy Maize – a fast-absorbing complex carbohydrate, essentially taking the best bits of dextrose and maltodextrin and blending them together. This is a newer form of carb supplement, but one that is becoming increasingly popular.
One problem that plagues a lot of carb supplement powders is that they mix like wet cement and don’t taste much better. The absorption rate varies quite a lot as well, depending on which variety you go for. It’s not always clear what the optimal use of each carb supplement is.
Some are more suited to rest days while others are best used like a pre-workout. Some have multiple uses while others are one-trick ponies.
It’s not easy to find a great all-round carb supplement that mixes easily, tastes good, is absorbed quickly and can be used at any time to support muscle growth.
KarboLyn, the Alternative
There is a company called All American Pharmaceutical who have created a carb supplement called KarboLyn, which sidesteps all the problems associated with most glycogen powders.
KarboLyn is a form of the waxy maize we mentioned above, but has been bio-engineered with more benefits, making it a stand-out choice in the market.
There are three key benefits of KarboLyn® over other carbohydrate supplements or sources:
- Enzymatic Milling Process – KarboLyn® has been carefully bioengineered so that the molecules are the optimum size. For a complex carbohydrate molecule, this is no easy task. The benefit of this is that KarboLyn® is absorbed almost instantly through your digestive system and the energy becomes available for us in under 10 minutes.
- Nutrient Absorption – due to the speed at which KarboLyn® is absorbed, it can act like a pump and drag water and nutrients through your intestinal wall with it. That might sound a bit gross, but it’s actually a huge benefit. If you take any product containing KarboLyn® alongside a pre-workout or protein shake, you get the benefits of both much more quickly!
- Instantized – here is where KarboLyn® dodges a huge bullet that fatally wounds many other glycogen supplements. Because it is instantized, it mixes perfectly with no clumps and lumps normally associated with powdered glycogen supplements.
So, in short, it mixes easily, works fast, sustains for longer and pretty much avoids the negatives that traditionally come with carbohydrate supplements. It’s a winner.
AAP sell KarboLyn® to other companies so they can use it in their own formulas. One of these stands head and shoulders above the rest of the pack and is our favorite carb supplement for bulking… Performance Lab SPORT Carb.
Best Carb Supplement for Bulking in 2020:
Performance Lab® SPORT Carb
*To Buy, Visit: www.performancelab.com
Performance Lab, from respected supplement manufacturer, Opti-Nutra, have taken the impressive benefits of KarboLyn and added to them by adding glycogen transporters. These help glycogen to be absorbed even more quickly, but also help to regulate the release of glucose during your workout.
The additions Performance Lab® have made for their Carb supplement include Himalayan pink salt and coconut sugar. Himalayan pink salt provides sodium, other key nutrients and electrolytes. Because of this, it helps the glycogen from KarboLyn® be absorbed even more quickly.
Coconut sugar is a very effective glycogen transporter, one of the most nutritious natural sugars and contains a dietary fiber called inulin. This can help to slow the absorption of glucose and prolong muscular performance.
It’s a great formula.
We recommend you consider using Performance Lab Carb if you want to enhance any of the following:
- Strength – because Performance Lab Carb contains KarboLyn® which provides glycogen, your muscles will have plenty more in the tank during exercise. Glycogen is a key part of the energy release cycle in your muscles and so you should notice yourself fatiguing later than usual. More reps = a stronger body.
- Endurance – for longer periods of exercise the additional glycogen will provide a real boost to your endurance. KarboLyn® in particular is great for endurance athletes because it is easy to mix in advance and top up glycogen in place of a sports drink.
- Recovery – reloading on glycogen immediately after a workout is the best way to kick start recovery and reduce the amount of time you need to recuperate between workouts.
- Growth – this may be the biggest benefit of Carb. Using it on rest days to replenish lost glycogen will stimulate continued muscle growth, set you up perfectly for the next session and elevate your average amount of stored glycogen to that of a professional endurance athlete.
Because they have kept the formula simple, you can use Performance Lab Carb as a straight down the line carb-loader or stack it with literally any other supplement and get the benefit of faster absorption and availability.
The entire Performance Lab range is designed to be used either alone or used safely in combination with any other product in the line, and we recommend the double-bonus of mixing Performance Lab Carb with Protein.
To Buy Performance Lab Carb, Visit:
– www.performancelab.com –
or read our
– full review here –
The Benefits of Carb and Protein
Combining carbs and protein has been shown to be even more effective than individual use. Combining the two before a workout helps the carbs to reach the muscles faster and boosts blood sugar and amino acid levels to fuel workouts.
Using the combo post-workout helps to improve your rest, recovery and growth.
Our Final Word
Carbs for bulking are too important to be ignored and choosing the right supplement can make or break your training regimen and ability to bulk up.
Performance Lab® Carb is one of the most universally applicable supplements we have reviewed and a worthy purchase for any serious competitor.