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29/01/22 3

Carbohydrates VS protein: which diet to increase muscle mass


Carbohydrates vs proteins is often the dilemma of those seeking to increase muscle mass. The former are a must for those doing endurance sports (running, cycling) and the latter are what you always need to have in bodybuilding.

Let’s say that carbohydrates and sugars are the fuel of our body, proteins the building blocks of which muscles are mainly composed. Without both of these macronutrients, it will be difficult to achieve a good level of training and thus good fitness.

Habits in endurance sports

For cyclists and marathon runners, the aim is to keep weight down for the same expression of strength in the legs. An excess of calories, which is rare in these disciplines, can lead to an increase in fat mass; too high a deficit of energy to force our bodies to recover energy from the muscle itself while we train (less muscle = less strength = worse performance).

And in body building

In bodybuilding, the tendency is naturally to avoid carbohydrates in favour of protein (the calorie expenditure is more modest, while the muscle injury is greater). In the absence of carbohydrates, however, the body will use the amino acid leucine then the protein itself to do the work under load (less force = less load = less stimulus). This is why an excessively prolonged carbohydrate deficit can be counterproductive.

The solution in choosing between carbohydrates and proteins

We have already talked about the fear of carbohydrates and it must be said that carbohydrates in general are what helps the body release insulin, the anorectic hormone. What makes us feel satiated. So, as well as being important for our performance, carbohydrates also help us to maintain a diet without any hunger pangs.

Insulin sends the message to the fat cells and muscles to prepare to receive energy and tells the brain that we have eaten. The muscles then load up with glucose ready for physical exertion and, if we have taken in the right proportions of energy, it will not be necessary for the body to store the energy in the adipocytes.

The solution in the typical carbohydrate vs protein dilemma of sportsmen and women is undoubtedly to increase the protein load in general, but also to adopt classic solutions such as carbohydrate cycling. For example, take carbohydrates in the right amount before training (or during training for those who run or cycle) and more on days (or times of day) when we are very active.

At rest our body will use more of its fat metabolism and devote protein to muscle repair, thus increasing lean mass.

Do the supplements help?

The answer is yes. If maltodextrin gels such as Sprintade® Isotonic gel and liquid carbohydrates such as ATP BOOSTER 3.0  are a portable solution for energy; milk protein concentrate and amino acid powder such as Complete Amino are an economical formula for increasing protein intake while keeping calories and fat in check.

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