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Workout Routines

Carbohydrate Timing: Enhance Muscle Growth, Fat Loss and Workout Performance

AST Director of Research

Muscle glycogen is the athlete???s storage form of carbohydrate and the primary fuel that powers intense exercise.[1] A number of studies have demonstrated that intense resistance training can significantly decrease muscle glycogen stores, much more severely than previously suspected. [4-7] If you restrict your carbohydrate intake (as most bodybuilders do), you run a real risk of training constantly on carb-depleted muscles.

Weight training with low muscle glycogen levels means weak muscles [8] decreased force production, [9] and significantly reduced strength. [10] Muscle glycogen stores govern weight lifting performance, and the ability to train intensely day-in, day-out. [4-10] Glycogen-full muscles means greater work capacity and greater intensity and this adds up to a more powerful growth stimulus.

Bodybuilders need carbohydrates to train intensely, build muscle and get shredded. However, to obtain optimal muscle glycogen stores, a high carbohydrate diet is not required nor recommended. The answer is carbohydrate timing. The intake of the right carbohydrates at just the right time results in more effective muscle glycogen accumulation, better recovery and a more potent muscle growth stimulus.

carbohydrate timing: What is it? What are the advantages?

A lot of bodybuilders do not understand that the strategic consumption of carbohydrates just before and after intense training not only determines the success of today???s workout, but also the glycogen levels that fuel tomorrow???s workout. That???s right, restoring muscle glycogen for tomorrow???s workout starts as before you hit the gym today!

The total amount of glycogen synthesized in muscle over a 24-hour period is directly correlated to the timing of carbohydrate ingestion after a workout.[2,3] If carbohydrates are not consumed in the workout period, zero muscle glycogen synthesis [11] and an empty fuel tank for tomorrow???s workout is the result. Where as a few strategic servings of an easily absorbed carbohydrate consumed close to training will guarantee a high glycogen synthesis rate [12,13] and glycogen-filled muscles to power cellular growth.

Don???t underestimate the importance of carb timing for triggering glycogen synthesis after a workout. Not only is a bodybuilders total work capacity correlated directly to the amount of glucose/glycogen held within muscle, the process of glycogen accumulation triggers an immediate ???cell volumizing??? effect, a potent anabolic response. The right carbohydrate timing strategy will amplify the anabolic stimulus of resistance training.[1,3,20]

The research on carbohydrate intake and weight lifting shows that the consumption of a carbohydrate supplement just before (or during) an intense workout can save valuable muscle glycogen stores from complete depletion, as well as enhance total lifting capacity during the workout. [15,16] While training without using a carb supplement before weight training results in muscle carb depletion, and poor weight training performance [14], supplementing just before or during training, results in only a 13.7% decrease in muscle glycogen content and more weight lifted, for more reps in every working set![16-18]

A carbohydrate supplement consumed immediately before or after weight training is shown to directly affect the hormonal response. Taken before training, a carb supplement will maintain blood sugar levels, and restore insulin levels. The presence of insulin is vital for stimulating muscle protein synthesis rates. [19] A carb supplement taken immediately after training increases insulin concentration while decreasing 3-methylhistidine and urea nitrogen excretion (all examples of reduced muscle breakdown).[20]

Consuming a carbohydrate supplement after resistance training also enhances the growth hormone response and reduces circulating cortisol concentrations.[21,22] Cortisol is the number one glucocorticoids hormone that is responsible for muscle breakdown. Carb timing stops cortisol elevation dead in its tracks.

The benefits are as clear as night and day, and the strategy is remarkably simple. Be sure to consume a dose of carbohydrates just before and immediately after your Max-OT training session, it will enhance work capacity and the hormonal anabolic response from weight training.

Dont 'forget creatine and glutamine.

carbohydrate synthesis is a cellular anabolic activator within muscle. Recent research has shown that the supplements creatine and glutamine both act synergistically with glucose to maximize glycogen accumulation in muscle. [23, 24] When taken straight after training, a 7-10gram dose of glutamine combined with carbohydrates, results is better glycogen accumulation throughout the entire body than either supplement taken alone.

Creatine-filled muscles store more carbohydrates that results in greater work capacity. So to obtain an optimal glycogen restoration after every workout, be sure to incorporate a 5-gram serving of micronized creatine in your pre and post workout shake, and a 5-15-gram serving of GL-3 glutamine in your post workout shake.

What kind of carbs are best?

Bowtell and colleagues have shown that glucose is the better choice of carbohydrate to consume around the training session. [26] Pure glucose does not require digestion and it promotes more rapid restoration of muscle glycogen levels than other carbohydrates. When taken immediately after weight training, a dose of glucose (1-gram/kg body weight) was highly effective in preventing muscle breakdown and providing a more positive protein balance in a group of bodybuilders. [20] This strategic dose of glucose also helped to increase the glycogen content of the bodybuilder???s muscles to levels higher than seen before training.
How much?

Most of the research that has demonstrated positive effects from carb intake during weight training has used a dose of around 1-gram per kilogram of body weight within the immediate training period. Some research has followed this dose with another 1-hour after training and this completely restored muscle glycogen levels.[20]

Therefore, a 200-pound bodybuilder (approx 94kgs) should probably aim to consume a 45-gram dose of glucose before and after bodybuilding workouts, and, possibly, another dose an hour later. A scoop of Creatine HSC provides 5-grams of micronized creatine and 34-grams of carbs and is an excellent pre and post workout supplement. However, some athletes may need to increase the carb portion of this serving to be sure of optimal glycogen restoration for their next workout. In fact, the effect of carbohydrate (glucose) consumption within the training period seems to exert such potent anabolic effects, I strongly suspect that most lean bodybuilders would obtain greater results from their training if they increased there carbohydrate intake during this period. Remember, the carbs you consume during the workout period exert a direct anabolic effect, they go directly towards muscle recovery and growth. [27] This is where supplementing the diet with a product like DGC can be so invaluable.

DCG is an incredibly simple, yet effective supplement bodybuilders can use to strategically increase there carbohydrate intake. One teaspoon provides 5-grams of pure glucose, no digestion is required and rapid absorption is assured. This makes DGC perfect for increasing carbohydrate intake at the precise times an athlete needs it. Bodybuilders can add DGC to their pre and post workout shakes to ensure they obtain the right amount of carbs that ensures muscle glycogen stores are replenished.

Another simple supplement timing strategy that bodybuilders can employ that will send muscle protein synthesis rates through the roof is the timing of particular amino acids and glucose in the pre and post workout period.

If an abundant supply of essential amino acids and glucose is in circulation during intense training, the anabolic response from weight training more than triples! [25] Imagine, triple the results every time you wrap your hands around a barbell. I believe this ???timing phenomenon???, that is, making sure key nutrients are circulating to muscles during training, is the single most effective strategy a drug-free athlete can utilize to pack on lean muscle mass fast. Read about this incredible muscle building technique in The Bracketing Method.

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