When I first became acquainted with bodybuilding, the majority of bodybuilders commented on their high protein consumption as a means of acquiring a great deal of muscle mass. Little was said about a very important nutrient, the carbohydrate.
For natural bodybuilders, carbohydrates are all the more important because you have to rely on the maximum efficiency of food for your energy production and muscle development rather than on steroids. This involves more critical balances of nutrients and their optimum utilization, two areas where carbohydrates play a preeminent role.
Carbohydrates yield an abundant supply of energy to the body. They are also protein sparing because their availability allows protein to perform its primary function of building tissue instead of supplying energy.
There are three types of carbohydrates: monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides and disaccharides are classified as simple carbohydrates; polysaccharides are complex carbs.
Examples of simple carbohydrates are sugars such as glucose, fructose, galactose, maltose, sucrose and lactose. Complex carbohydrates are starches such as rice, beans, peas, potatoes, yams and so forth.
Except for fiber, the body converts the different types of carbohydrates into readily available fuel called glucose, which resides within the blood and cells but is primarily stored within the muscle and the liver in a complex form called glycogen.
Adequate glycogen stores are of vital importance to the bodybuilder, especially the natural bodybuilder who has no assistance from anabolics.
I try to ingest 75% of my total calories from carbohydrates, with 10% coming from simple carbohydrates and the remaining 65% from complex sources.
In situations where a bodybuilder deprives himself or herself of adequate glycogen stores, the body then turns to its own protein as a means of generating glucose, which means less protein is available for muscle tissue building.
Don't let your carbohydrate level fall to the point where your body scavenges protein to compensate for its energy needs, and make sure those carbs are the right kind for constant utilization.