Do You Need Carbs to Build Muscle?
Reviewed & Approved by Dr. Larry
What effect do carbs in the muscle building process have on your body? Steve Lombardi, an ICU nurse and personal trainer, says it’s true that carbs help build muscle, but they’re a more minor component.
Protein is still the name of the game when it comes to packing on muscle without fat, but the importance of carbs in bodybuilding is still present. According to Steve, it mostly comes down to knowing how carbs affect your body personally, because each body responds differently.
Will Carbs Help You to Build Muscle or Lose Weight?
While too many carbs can overwhelm your metabolism and wind up loading on a more fat-based weight, there are some good carbs for building muscle that you can add to your diet.
The best carbohydrates for bodybuilding are also low in fat, and tend to include some protein and nutrients rather than existing as a carb alone. So no; starchy things like pasta or fries aren’t going to be healthy carbs for building muscle — especially if you’re also trying to keep off weight while adding or maintaining muscle.
Healthier Carbs for Muscle Repair and Weight Loss
Some good carbs to eat to build muscle (while avoiding empty, fattening carbs) include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Broccoli or other dark greens
- Lentils and beans
Steve cautions that you should keep your servings of these healthy carbs for muscle mass to a minimum, though. The best time to eat healthy carbs to gain muscle is in the morning and early afternoon around breakfast and lunch. Ditch the carbs and stick to lots of veggies and lean protein later in the day if you want to avoid adding fat on top of the muscle you’re trying to build.
Eat the Right Amount of Carbs for Muscle
A healthy portion of carbs to gain muscle would be half of a small sweet potato, a handful of brown rice or beans, or two handfuls of broccoli. Those frozen low-cal pasta meals aren’t going to do you much good if you want to lose weight and add muscle.
Steve always recommends adding more lean protein in your diet in place of carbs, but carbs and weight lifting still have a small correlation. Just be sure that you’re eating the right kind of carbs at the right time of day.