This week we have been talking about the role of carbohydrates for fat loss and athletic performance. Today, we a wrapping up are carb conversations with a discussion on the role of carbohydrates for mass gains. I know that this might sound odd coming from a tiny 5’3” female, but I would like to open up the discussion for men and women who are on the slightly smaller side who are looking to add lean mass. I realize that the subject matter of protein, fats, and carbs all play a role here, but having dived into my own nutritional experimentation with mass gain (you read the correctly), I have come to learn something about this whole muscle building process.
Carbs matter. They matter A LOT!
Before we get into the specific ratios of carbs, I want to first address the protein issue with muscle gain. Again, this is a GAINS article, so please bare that in mind as you continue along. Generally speaking, a 1:1 ratio of protein is plenty to preserve muscle mass. I have seen some serious gainers go as high as a 2:1 ration of protein, but I normally bank around the 1:! ratio myself. If you remember our discussion on fat loss, you should recall that post workout, we are most insulin sensitive. Adding extra carbohydrates post workout then can truly maximize muscle building. If you are looking for a specific ratio and are looking for serious mass gains, I recommend the upper limit of 3 grams of carbohydrates post workout. Again, this is for MASS GAINS, not strict FAT LOSS (though fat loss will still happen at this level, this is designed to increase weight not decrease weight). I realize that that level of carb intake may sound high to some, but in reality it isn’t Mass gainers typically are hard trainers, so it is imperative to a) keep up with the demands of glycogen depleting exercises while b) avoiding muscle breakdown and c) ensuring adequate nutrients feed the muscle for repair and growth. Badda bing badd BOOM!
Speaking of mass gains, this reminds me of the time I was under weight right before my RKC. After having restricted my carbs too much during my training and suffering serious muscle loss and funky feelings in the head, I was instructed by my own coach at the time to a) stop training and b) drastically increase carbohydrate intake to halt the catabolic state (please note, YOU DO NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN EVER). Staying too low carb for too long wreaks havoc on us athletes. It was a hard lesson learned, but it ended up also being an interesting experiment at the end of the day.
So…how many carbs did I, the 5’3” female, eat to go from 121 to 128 pounds of sheer, iron maiden mass? Looking back at my food logs, I was eating nearly 200 grams of carbs per day, and everything turned into muscle. I ate everything from white potatoes, rice, plantain, yams, dates, and more. In fact, I was telling my friends at one point how I had basically thrown myself a 2 week long starch feast prior to RKC, and I looked BEASTLY when I arrived and left. I was still doing hard training at the time, so that level of Carbohydrate intake was probably needed. And yes, I cycled through it all, and put on the muscle I desperately needed to pass that certification.
Case in point: EAT YOUR CARBS!
I hope this week has cleared up some serious carbohydrate confusion. Whether your goals are fatloss, increasing your power out put, or putting on some sizable muscle mass, you need the carbs to seal the deal. Thanks for following this weeks three part serious on all things related to carbs. I highly suggest you all enjoy your life this weekend and celebrate your training with some healthy paleo starches 😉
Until next time, eat smart, train hard, and enjoy your life!
Janelle Pica, RKC