Are Carbs Important For Building Muscle?

Carbs For Building Muscle


With so much misinformation on the internet these days, it can be difficult to determine the truth when it comes to food, health, and fitness. For years, carbohydrates have been unfairly blamed for hindering fitness progress, such as preventing weight loss or hindering muscle growth.

Many people who want to lose weight cut out carbs from their diet, and this has led to many questions about the role of carbohydrates in achieving fitness goals.

In this article, we’ll explore the impact of carbohydrates on building muscle and, if so, which types of carbs are the best to help you achieve the strong, toned muscle you desire.

Are Carbs Important For Building Muscle?

Yes, carbs are important for building muscle. Your body needs to perform physical activity and strength training to build muscle mass. All these rigorous exercises require a lot of energy which is provided by carbohydrates.

During intense physical exertion, your body uses the glycogen stored in the muscle cells for energy; this needs to be replenished by taking in carbs to help maintain and recover muscle mass.

However, not all carbs can have the same impact on building muscles. To help build muscles, you require complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Other kinds of carbohydrates, simple carbs, are rich in sugar and can interfere with muscle building by causing a rapid rise in blood sugar levels.

It is important to remember that a balanced diet goes a long way in muscle growth. A diet alone of carbs cannot help increase muscle mass. An adequate portion of proteins, healthy fats, and carbs is the best source to grow and maintain muscles.

Carbs Important For Building Muscle

What Happens If You Lift Weights But Don’t Eat Enough Carbs?

Growing muscles means a lot of strength training, like lifting weights, which requires a lot of energy. We have established that you need carbs as a source of energy, but what happens if you aren’t eating enough?

Protein-rich foods are most equated to muscle-building foods. While they also help grow muscle cells, cutting carbs from your diet can be disastrous.

Avoiding carbs during training means you will have little to no energy. You won’t be able to build your muscles as you are just wasting energy and losing weight.

When you’re on an intense fitness regime, your body constantly uses the glycogen stored in your muscle cells.

As you take in carbs, they are broken down into simpler forms which can be absorbed by your body to replenish lost glycogen (1). If you take in too little amount of carbohydrates, your body cannot restore the lost glycogen, and as a result, you lose muscle mass.

On the other hand, if you take in adequate amounts of carbs, you retain the glycogen and can maintain your muscle mass. However, how will you build muscles if you can only recover the lost glycogen?

This is where knowing which carbs to eat comes into play. It would help if you were incorporating complex carbohydrates in your diet, giving you the energy to perform, regain, maintain, and build muscles.

Simple Carbohydrates vs. Complex Carbohydrates

We know that there are different carbohydrate types that are classified into two groups: simple and complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are sugars and the most basic form of carbs. These sugars are glucose, fructose, and galactose. These carbs are easily digested and broken down into simpler molecules in the body.

While simple carbs are required by the body, overconsumption these sugars can be unhealthy. These sugars are easily absorbed by the body and cause a spike in blood sugar. The increased or prolonged rise in blood sugar can be harmful as they cause insulin resistance and may develop into diabetes.

On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are fibers and starches. They are also known as polysaccharides as they are long chains of sugars.

These complex carbs take longer to break down due to their complex structure. Some examples of complex carbs include grains, dairy, legumes, and starchy vegetables like yams, potatoes, etc.

Complex carbs are essential as they function as fuel for your body. As we know, complex carbs are slower to digest but provide more energy for longer durations. In the long run, these carbs are healthier and more efficient alternatives than simple carbohydrates.

Are Carbs Important For Building Muscle?

Which Carbohydrates Are Better For You, Simple Or Complex?

Simple Carbohydrates are sugars that take much quicker time for absorption by your body. Likewise, they can provide you with short outbursts of energy for a limited time.

In contrast, complex carbohydrates take time to break down in the body. As a result, your body gets a slow yet continuous and steady source of energy.

Both types of carbohydrates are required by your body to function properly. However, depending on the kind of activity, you can choose either form of carbohydrate as a source of energy.

Simple carbohydrates like sugary energy drinks are the best fit for physical activities like cardio or HIIT (High-Intensity exercise), which requires a quick boost of energy. Simple carbs can also be taken after a workout, providing energy and replenishing glycogen stores.

While activities or exercises like endurance and strength training, complex carbohydrates are your best source of energy, they work best for long-duration exercises by providing a steady flow of energy throughout.

These carbohydrates help facilitate glucogenesis which is responsible for restoring glycogen levels after an intense workout.

If you want to build muscle, a diet consisting of complex carbohydrates like whole grains, oatmeal, rice, and cereals is a healthy option. They have high nutritional benefits and are unlike empty calories found in simple carbohydrates.


So many fads claim that they are the only way to help you reach your goals. Regardless, a well-rounded diet is the best surefire way to stay healthy and attain your fitness goals.

It is always best to consult a dietician or a nutritionist who can help you meet your fitness goals by developing a customized plan tailored to your needs.

Jason Shaw is an experienced bodybuilder, gym owner, nutritionist and content creator for many websites. He has competed at a high level and wants to bring that experience in muscle building, fitness and nutrition including supplements to our many readers, whether you're a skinny guy want to build muscle or a seasoned bodybuilder.

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