Are post workout carbs essential to build muscle mass?

You May Not Need Post Workout Carbs After All

In Build Muscle by Bobby MarandinoLeave a Comment

You may have heard as one of the golden rules to building muscle that you need a ratio of 2:1 of carbohydrates to protein in order to effectively build lean muscle mass. Well, who the heck came up with that rule and why do we follow it?

For awhile now, supplement companies have been touting the 2:1 ratio as essential to maximize your muscle gaining results. Where’s the proof that it works though?

But what if we don’t need those carbs? That would go a long way in cutting down unwanted calories during the day.

I am going to put this so-called golden rule to the test.

How Are Post Workout Carbs Supposed to Work

The idea behind having post workout carbs is that they can replenish our glycogen storage after working out. Glycogen is a chemical formation of carbohydrates that is stored in our muscles. When you work out you end up depleting your glycogen storage. It is important you replenish them. However, in some workouts you may burn only a little bit of your glycogen storage and in other workouts you may burn almost all of it. This is one reason why the 2:1 ratio isn’t the clear cut answer to refilling your glycogen storage.

The main purpose of the carb to protein ratio is to increase stimulation of protein synthesis. Protein synthesis means the breaking down of protein to be used by your muscles. Technically, an insulin increase has been thought as needed to jump-start protein synthesis. When carbohydrates which have a high glycemic value enter your body they enter the bloodstream quickly to cause a rapid spike in insulin to assist in protein synthesis.

However, our recent information on needing a high insulin boost for protein synthesis may be incorrect. While our bodies need insulin for protein synthesis, it seems like lower amounts of insulin are needed to stimulate protein synthesis and the creation of new muscle tissue.

Do You Need Post Workout Carbs to Build Muscle?

Do post workout carbs help build muscle mass?

A study was conducted in the Netherlands that measured whether carbs had an impact of protein synthesis after working out. The participants were healthy young men that were split into 3 groups. Each group ingested a different combination of protein and carbs or protein and no carbs. Each group performed 60 minutes of resistance training and was given their protein and/or carbs post workout. They took their protein and/or carbs each hour for 6 hours after training and measured the protein synthesis results.

The breakdown of the groups were as follows:

  • Group 1 – Just protein with no carbohydrates
  • Group 2 – The same amount of protein as Group 1 with 0.15g per kg of body weight in carbohydrates
  • Group 3 – The same amount of protein as Group 1 with 0.6g per kg of body weight in carbohydrates

The study measured the protein synthesis 6 hours after training. The results the study found were:

  1. The post-workout protein intake increased protein synthesis in the participants.
  2. The addition of carbohydrates regardless of amount had no impact in increasing protein synthesis.

Final Thoughts

The results of that study I believe is great news!

This means that you no longer need to increase your daily carb intake for fear of not maximizing your muscle gains. This is great news for people who are on a lower calorie diet or carb cycling.

For all you diabetics out there, you don’t have to worry about being at a disadvantage in building muscle from your post-workout shake.

What are your thoughts on the 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein? Do you believe in post workout carbs?

About the Author

Bobby Marandino

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The founder of Limitlessly Fit, Bobby started Limitlessly Fit to share his lifelong passion of fitness to help guys build lean and ripped physiques. Bobby is well educated in many fields, holding a Bachelors degree, two Masters degrees, and several certifications. He also has over 10 years of experience and university-based education in fitness and nutrition.

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