The Ultimate Macros Guide to Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the most abundant ones of the four major bio molecules. They are called carbohydrates because the carbon, oxygen and hydrogen they contain are generally in proportion to form water with the general formula Cn(H2O)n. They are also the most important source of energy for your body.

Carbohydrates are further divided into two kinds: simple and complex. Simple Carbohydrates include sugars found naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products.

They also include sugars added during food processing and refining. Complex Carbohydrates include whole grain breads and cereals, starchy vegetables and legumes. Many of the complex carbohydrates are good sources of fiber.

It is the second kinds of carbs that you need to focus on in order to get a perfect diet plan for muscle growth. However carbs seem to be really less popular among people than proteins.

Most people live with a misconception that they are a complete no for a healthy living. They are often ignored as substances that cause fat when a healthy diet plan is charted out.


Sports nutritionist Becky Stevenson reveals how much carbohydrates you need to consume everyday in accordance with the kind of exercises you indulge in:

  • Light activity (less than one hour per day) – 4g to 5g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight
  • Light to Moderate activity (one hour per day) – 5g to 6g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight
  • Moderate activity (one to two hours per day) – 6g to 7g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight
  • Moderate to Heavy activity (two to four hours per day) – 7g to 8g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight
  • Heavy activity (more than four hours per day) – 8g to 10g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight

Carbohydrates are as essential as proteins and when consumed in the right manner, they could add a lot to your muscle building process.

There is a whole set of WHTAs, WHENs and HOWs that accompany carbohydrates if you are planning to integrate them into your diet for muscle development, without compromising on your fitness.

Carbohydrates aren’t bad but you need to learn to separate the healthier ones from the fat building ones. Here is a list of WHAT sources of carbohydrates you should include in your diet plan:

  • Low GI carbs such as oats, beans and wholemeal bread slowly break down to give a steady rise in blood sugar and therefore avoid getting stored as fats. You can include such carbs in your daily plan to provide for one third of your calories without adding fat to your body.
  • High-fiber carbs also aid digestion and would help in the digestion of excess complex proteins you might have ended up consuming in the day. They also help muscle tissue absorb amino acids faster and efficiently. One bowl of all-bean contains 10.3g of dietary fibers that would fulfill more than half of your daily needs.
  • Although an overdose of sugary carbs would prove harmful to anybody, these simplest forms of carbohydrates are a gift for those indulging in excessive workouts as they deliver instant energy required prior to workouts. Any activity over an hour requires 30g- 60g of carbs and a banana alone can give you 36g of it.
  • Consuming large amount of meats in order to get a high dose of protein can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Here again, carbs come to your help as they possess the ability to lower blood pressure by 19%
  • Apart from helping you with muscle building, carbohydrates have a range of other benefits that include fighting cancer, boosting your brain power and maintaining healthy hair.

WHEN you consume carbohydrates is also another very important aspect. It is believed that carbs when consumed post workout have the most positive impact on your body.

  • The main idea behind this is that carbs help replenish muscle glycogen lost during workout. Replacing lost muscle glycogen is of utmost importance for those aiming for a great body.
  • In fact a delay of more than two hours in the consumption of carbohydrates after a rigorous training can reduce the rate of glycogen replenishment by 50%!
  • Carbs also restore the energy lost during a workout quickly helping you fight the feeling of being drained out and lethargic.
  • Another advantage of consuming carbs right after a workout is that it satisfies your craving for sugary high calorie food without leaving a negative impact on your body.
  • The best source for post workout carbs is Dextrose. Dextrose is pure glucose which when consumed post workout doesn’t need t be digested as it is immediately absorbed in the bloodstream resulting in the most rapid replenishment of muscles.
  • A combination of protein, fat and carbohydrate consumed post workout has been proved to be the best recovery drink in a study. Half a liter of chocolate milk is all you need in order to get a combination of all the three macronutrients.

HOW you are consuming carbohydrates decides whether it will add fat or energy to your body. There are a few ways by which one can minimize the chances of carbs turning into fat. Some of these are:

  • Eating complex carbohydrates like brown rice, potatoes, whole grain cereal and oatmeal works best for body builders. They reduce fat storage and promote the release of insulin which is essential for muscle development.
  • Eating small amounts of carbohydrates more often in the day rather than consuming them in large portions in a single sitting also prevents the storage of excess carbs as fats in the body.
  • Relying too much on fruits to balance your body’s carbohydrates needs is also not a very good idea. Fruits mainly contain fructose which is a simple sugar that easily converts into fats.
  • Another great idea is to mix your proteins and carbs in the same meal. It minimizes the chance of carbs getting stored as fat since they are immediately used to process the harder protein.

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