There are always ongoing debates between carbs vs protein when it comes to muscle building. Although the comparison between macros is great to help us decide on food choices. However, sometimes for beginners, it is quite confusing and the comparison tends to over fantasies or demonizes each other.
This is why I love to talk about macros. Because sadly, most of us did not actually know how certain macros work.
Hey tough soul, I’m Alyssa.
After the recent post about does carbohydrates more fattening than fat, I’ve decide to do write another post about debates on muscle building between carbohydrates and protein.
Ready to dive deep!
Role of Carbohydrates
For those that did not require weight lifting, it’s true that their demand for carbohydrates isn’t as high as those that into weight training. What carbohydrates do is provide enough energy to regulate bodily function. In this case, a relatively lower carbohydrate diet might be more suitable for a sedentary individual in this case.
However, for those that are into weight training, carbohydrates are often underrated because of the bad reputation they will put on fat. However, we need to know that glucose is the most immediate energy that we require if we are lifting weights.
Muscle Glucose Synthesis
When we lift weight, the energy that we obtained did not directly from fat, but instead from glucose. It seeks the glucose that is stored in our muscles. Therefore you actually don’t need to be afraid about storing fat with carbohydrates, because you will always be using it. This is called muscle glucose synthesis.
Without enough storage, your workout will become shitty. And if you wish to build more muscle, this is a no-no as it will counterproductive to your progress.
Well, the above is for the performance in the gym. You might also wonder does carbohydrates helps in building visible muscle after your workout (because muscle is built outside the gym!).
The answer is yes. Carbs is important in muscle building too.
Let’s look into what carbohydrates did to your muscle after hard training.
As amino acid is crucial for building more muscle cells, then how it applies to each cell highly depends on the number of carbohydrates that you consume.
Carbs increase the rate of transportation of amino acids to tissue.
As muscle recovery happens is within 48 to 72 after training, therefore it is important to have sufficient resources to repair and built it up before the muscle-building phase is over. One important thing carbohydrates did is it helps speed up this process and delivers the amino acid to your muscle.
Besides building muscle, we need to look at how carb helps in muscle repair.
As we know, for muscle growth what we need is a tear on the muscle fiber in your workout. Applying hypertrophy to your muscle allows time for your muscle to recover. And your muscle mass will increase over time.
Role of Protein
For most of us, we think that protein is only used to build muscle, it is rare for a normal person to start looking at the importance of protein in their diet. However, the fact is that protein actually has nothing to do with muscular energy, instead, it is highly associated with maintaining the properties of our body, just like carbohydrates did.
Every cell in your body is built by protein.
Our cells and tissue are constantly broken down on a daily basis and new cells will be replaced. Protein will as the main source of materials for repairing and building cells and tissue in our body.
Therefore if you are a human being, you need protein.
Muscle Breakdown and Replacement (On Daily Basis)
This is how the protein is used on a daily basis, notice that we are constantly repairing and the same amount of muscle will be replaced after you consume protein (amino acid). Therefore, from the outside, you can’t notice the change, but actually, you won’t believe that the cell that you have a month ago won’t be the same cell you have now.
That’s why for those that need to lose fat, protein should be highly prioritized because this time you are in a calorie deficit, and protein will help you not to lose that amount of muscle that you already have. Enough protein will also make sure your body won’t start to burn muscle for amino acids once the energy source is in demand.
This applies to an average person, let it be either sedentary or those that are moderately active but did not require muscle anaerobic activities. They do still need protein to maintain the same amount of muscle mass and body composition that they already have.
Muscle protein synthesis On Hypertrophy Training
If you wish to build more muscle, then you do need more protein to generate more muscle cells.
Protein breaks down will happen if you eat below your maintenance calories. Therefore, the best practice is to eat enough protein and apply resistance training. In this case, additional protein functions as the new additional building block for you to build more muscle.
Similar to the diagram illustrated above, however this time, the additional amino acid will be layered on your existing amount of muscle and build more muscle cells.
Of course, this should happen under a condition: You train hard, hit hypertrophy, and eat enough.
The Bricks and the Worker
You might start asking, ‘so exactly which one is important for muscle building?”
It’s hard to say. But let’s describe this in one methodology. The bricks and the worker.
Imagine your body is an existing building that is made of twenty thousand bricks. Now, the bricks will represent the cells in your body which further form organ tissue, bones, muscle cells etc.
Over time, the building will start experiencing some deterioration. This is the same as a human body because we are living things and changes are occurring every time. The difference between the human body and a building is, our body experiences the process of maintaining and breaking down more frequently than non-living things (up to a daily basis). So in this case, what you want is to doing the maintenance work of the building, let’s say there are 200 bricks that are damaging and you will replace them with the same amount of 200, not more not less.
How about you wish to expand it, (build more muscle)? Then for this, you not only need 200 bricks, but perhaps you need up to 500. This is why if you wish to build more muscle, you need to consume more protein.
Well, above is talk about the materials (protein). You might wonder where is the place for carbohydrates.
—Here it comes, the worker.
The workers will helps stack up the bricks and help in every maintenance work. Without the worker, everything can’t be materialized.
One mistake that I saw so many people doing is that they started to increase a huge amount of protein without considering how much they actually need. However, at the same time, they cut out carbs. This is actually counterproductive. A low carbohydrate diet will result in slower recovery and is not effective for gaining muscle.
Wrapping it up: So which is more important?
It really can’t make a distinguishable winner between which is better in muscle building. Both of them are equally important and is responsible for a different job.
But the one that requires more effort and attention is the protein. Because most of us have no problem obtaining carbohydrates, but often time having a hard time meeting the minimal protein requirement.
That’s all we have in this blog post. I hope these explanations and the analogy will help you understand more about the importance of both macronutrients in muscle building.
Let us grow together,