What is carbohydrate loading in bodybuilding?

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Diet is the foundation for building muscle. Failure to manage fats and carbohydrates can lead to a loss of muscle mass. In contrast, so-called carbohydrate loading will allow you to significantly increase your results.

If you plan to build muscle mass, it will be necessary to focus your diet on carbohydrates. They are the main source of energy for your body. The daily requirement for intensive exercise is at least 60 percent of the whole-day diet. 

Why carbohydrates are important

When building muscle, a caloric surplus will be necessary. It is assumed that it should be at least 20 percent, then muscle tissue develops best. Consequently, your meals must be quite hearty. It is recommended to follow a five-feed daily routine. You also need to say goodbye to empty calories: fast food, candy, sugary drinks, etc. The reason is simple: these meals contain a huge amount of calories (e.g., a large box of Monte is close to 850 calories, a kebab from 1,000 upwards, and a bottle of Pepsi can go as high as 500, while a liter of beer averages 250-350 calories), while they contain no nutrients. They, on the other hand, are necessary for muscle development. So if you take in empty calories, you’ll stagnate despite exercise and adequate caloric requirements. Exercise will only allow you to down a burger with a Coke.

Your diet must be a mix of three main ingredients: carbohydrates, protein and fats. They form the basis through which your body functions and develops. Muscle glycogen in carbohydrates, on the other hand, allows you to grow faster. 

Don’t forget about fats and protein!

Even when you’re on a carbohydrate load, it’s necessary to stock up on the other two components. Protein is the building block of muscle, so it is essential. If you don’t provide an adequate amount after exercise, muscle catabolism can occur, i.e. muscle shrinkage due to lack of energy resources (protein), which will therefore be obtained from the muscles themselves. 

Nutritionists emphasize the importance of fats: their supply must be adjusted individually (we take into account such factors as age, gender, weight, height, physical activity). The body needs fats, especially unsaturated acids (such as those from the omega-3 family). These can be added to meals. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, without them the body absorbs them much worse.

Carbohydrate loading – what does it consist of?

The purpose of loading is to dramatically increase the body’s carbohydrate stores. Since they contain muscle glycogen, the body then has huge amounts of energy needed for intense and prolonged exercise. It’s like charging the battery for the muscles all the time. Therefore, it will be necessary, among other things, to give up empty calories that interfere with the whole process by clogging up the stomach. 

So, let’s list the main sources of carbohydrates so you know what to rely on: fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy products, groats, rice, yams, whole grain bread, legumes, bran and oatmeal, pasta (whole grain), honey, potatoes.

main photo: pexels.com/Leonardo Luz

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