Carbs Bad for Bodybuilding Diets? Let’s Kill The Myth
By: Brandon Lirio
Outside of the bulk season, most people think cutting sugars completely from the diet of fitness competitors is the norm. While it’s true that excess insulin spikes and excess sugar leading to fat storage is absolutely the antithesis of favorable in terms of anabolic growth, is there ever a good time to utilize sugar in a bodybuilding diet? Let’s break down the issue from a macronutrient level then apply it to the goals of a fitness competitor to find out.
Sugar is broken down into three types, Monosaccharide, Disaccharide, and Polysaccharide. As the nomenclature would suggest, the main difference in physical structure of these compounds has to do with the length of the chain. Due to the amount of sugars in the chain, the digestion rate of these sugars varies in the system with their complexity, with mono being the simplest and poly being the most complex. Disaccharides make up compounds like lactose and sucralose while polysaccharides make up starches and glycogen. The main focal point, due to its application and favorable outcome in bodybuilders’ diets will be the monosaccharide family of sugars. This includes things like glucose and fructose, and is very quick to digest and spike insulin levels within the body.
Once intense bouts of exercise have been completed, a lot of the body’s stored glycogen and ATP energy stores have been depleted and thusly, it will look to fat and muscle stores to function. If you supplement your body with a solid dose of simple and easy to use sugars, it will pump them directly to the cells to be converted for energy.
The main area to note is that since the body is already depleted and looking for energy to begin repair and continue bodily function unabated, these simple sugars are already in their simplest form are ready for use will be immediately utilized. This would mean it’s not only possible, it’s recommended to present an influx in monosaccharides post exercise to spike insulin.
Does this mean a simple candy bar post exercise is the best option for carbohydrates when bodybuilding. No… quite the contrary. The added fat and additional types of sugars in things like candy bars or commercial sweet deserts do not serve the purpose and can even work against the intended purpose of the monosaccharides. The best option would either be a formulated simple carbohydrate drink supplement or, if you’d rather not break the bank and be able to find it more readily available at your local supermarket, a dextrose based candy like gummy bears or sweet tarts will more than do the trick.
Exactly how much to intake depends on a lot of things like what body type, metabolic damage possibility and especially any precursors for diabetes should be taken into account. With these factors included, most people can utilize anywhere form .2-.7g per pound of bodyweight. That being said… maybe buy a few extra packs of gummy bears next time you go in for that plain chicken breast… you just might need it.