Carbs: The Key to Supporting Muscle Growth and Health

The health benefits of having more muscle mass are now well established in the literature. But unfortunately, humans are really good at losing muscle as we age. (If you don’t use it, you lose it!)

1. Carbs Provide the Body Energy to Build Bigger Muscles

Increasing muscle mass involves adding more contractile units (sarcomeres) to your muscle — increasing muscle length and cross-sectional area. The act of building that muscle tissue after the workout requires rest and food, as the act of building muscle is an energy-intensive process. Building muscle requires energy — our body does not run on thin air.

Eating protein is of course important (almost a no brainer!), as it provides the body the building blocks (amino acids) for the muscle tissue. But just eating protein is like delivering logs to build a log cabin, without any employees to assemble the cabin. Rebuilding something requires TOOLS and ENERGY (carbs).

2. Carbs Replenish Muscle Glycogen Levels

Glycogen is a storage form of carbs that is used for energy throughout the body, especially during your strength training sessions since fat is too slow of a fuel source for high power output. A recent meta analysis discussed how a single strength workout will decrease muscle glycogen levels by 24% to 40%. And just 3 sets of 12 reps performed to muscular failure was shown to result in a 26.1% decrease in muscle glycogen levels. So one of the main reasons to consume carbs after your workout is to replenish these stores.

One study showed that muscle breakdown more than doubled in a glycogen-depleted vs. a glycogen-loaded state. This means your body is more likely to spend energy to rebuild that muscle tissue when your stores are full. Muscle is an “expensive” tissue to have — meaning it requires MORE fuel and MORE nutrients for “maintenance and upkeep.”

Why would a body that is already struggling with chronic stress and poor energy production spend valuable (and limited) energy resources on building muscle? Your body is intelligent — it’s not going to “waste” energy on something it knows it can’t support.

3. Carbs Lower Stress Hormones

Smart exercise is a good stress that elevates cortisol levels. Consuming carbs as part of your post workout meal significantly decreases cortisol and helps you recover faster.

Carbs help suppress the exercise-induced cortisol release, so that you can recover faster, keep your hormones balanced, and maintain strong thyroid health and a robust metabolism.

Your body uses carbs during strength training, full stop. So either you eat some dietarily, or your body makes it. Relying on this pathway will down regulate metabolism and thyroid health over time. Not consuming carbs may “work” — but at what cost?

After 1.5 years of taking this approach, we finally ‘woke up’ that we were driving ourselves into the ground. We were in denial at the time, but our lifting numbers and muscle mass went in the opposite direction.

In Summary

One of the best things you can do for your health is to build, and hold on to, as much muscle as you can. So why wouldn’t you want to give your body the best possible chance to build and maintain muscle? (And thus, include carbohydrates in your diet.)

The best types of carbs are ones that you digest well, increase your body temperature, and carbs you enjoy! Often, these include ripe fruits and fruit juices, honey and maple syrup, white rice, well-cooked potatoes, and for some, sourdough bread.

Best types of carbs? How many carbs should I consume? How does dietary fat fit into this puzzle? These are all questions we address in-depth in our courses and free downloads.

My sister Sarah and I (the ’Strong Sistas’) run a health and wellness website — focused on providing you metabolism boosting nutrition and exercise information to help you cut through the noise of all the conflicting health information out there. We have been through all the diet fads and extremes out there — and all they did was lower our metabolisms in the long run.

We provide you with the educational tools so that you can have FOOD EDUCATION not FOOD FEAR. Because when you understand the three points discussed above in this article, you understand that carbs help support your physiology and improve energy production.

Metabolism Supportive Exercise

Looking for easy-to-follow workouts that help you improve your metabolism and build muscle? Our Train2Change membership for both men and women is designed to help you build muscle, improve body composition, lose fat, and boost your metabolism. Learn more about Train2Change here.

About Angel Acres Egg Co. and the Nourish Cooperative

The types of fat you eat can impact how you utilize carbs, as PUFAs can hinder proper carb utilization. With the current agriculture system, knowing where your food comes from is vital. Armstrong is the cofounder of Angel Acres Egg Co., which specializes in low-PUFA (polyunsaturated fat) eggs.

Angel Acres Egg Co. ships Low PUFA eggs to all 50 states. More egg boxes will be available this spring — join the waitlist for low PUFA egg boxes here.

Armstrong also co-founded Nourish Cooperative which ships the best low PUFA pork, beef, cheese & A2 dairy and traditional sourdough to all 50 states. They are also close to accepting new members to the farm cooperative — join the waitlist here: nourishcooperative.com.

Author: Ashley Armstrong
Source: articles.mercola.com

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