Body Building Resources

High Protein Low Carb Diet - Is It Good
For Muscle Building?

By Jean Lam

Muscle building revolves a large part around nutrition. Whether you like it or not, if you don't eat properly, you won't make the muscle gains that you aspired to. Many people think that protein is the building block of muscles and it's true. Your muscles need protein for development. Working out exhausts your muscles, depletes them and puts them into catabolic mode meaning losing muscle mass. This is why you need amino acids from protein for repair, growth and also to sustain muscle mass.

Due to the importance of protein, some people focus way too much on protein like drinking many whey protein shakes, eating lots of meat, eggs, fish etc... So all their meals will have plenty of protein with few carbohydrates and vegetables. This is known as a high protein low carb diet.

While protein is a major nutrient for muscle building, it's not all there is to building muscles. If you focus on a diet with too much protein and practically no carbs, that's not good in the long run. Consuming too much protein can overload your liver and is bad for its health. Don't think that having lots of protein in your body will make you grow bigger and bigger. Your liver might not be able to process all the protein and utilize it, so if protein synthesis isn't fully done, some will go to waste and not absorbed by the muscles. More protein is not always better. Typically protein consumption is based on a person's body weight, for instance if you weigh 200 pounds, you need about 200 grams of protein per day to maintain your muscle mass and growth. That gives you 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. 200 grams of protein divided in 5 meals per day gives you 40 grams of protein per meal and it's ok for a 200 pound person who is active in muscle building like weight training.

Protein does give some energy too although not much, so relying on protein with too few carbs isn't recommended if you want to pack lean muscle mass. You still need a good source of energy beforehand to fuel your workout. If you don't get the required energy for your demanding training sessions, your performance won't be optimum and as a result, your muscle building goals will be affected as well. So it's very crucial to ingest a good amount of carbs pre-workout. Carbs notably complex carbs, those that take time to digest and supply your body with energy gradually and not causing insulin spikes and a big crash and drop in energy levels following after. Complex carbohydrates like whole grain oats eg rolled oats, steel-cut oats and sweet potatoes, brown rice, wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta etc... are ideal choices.

Not only carbs are important pre-workout but post-workout too. The reason is that when your muscles are depleted from energy, you need to restore and replenish lost muscle glycogen stores and skipping this process will result in muscle tissues breakdown that is weak, flat and tired muscles. Carbs will do the job of supplying energy fast to your energy drained muscles but also aid the protein and amino acids to reach your muscle cells faster. While some people prefer high GI carbs(fast acting), others find it equally beneficial to stick to lower GI carbs(slow acting) post-workout. This is actually a topic which creates lots of debates.

A high protein low carb diet is not too ideal if your goal is to pack lean muscle mass. It's recommended to find the right balance between the protein and the carbs and you'll achieve better results.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.

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