Why Carbs Are Essential

Everyone knows how important it is to eat enough protein if you want to build bigger muscles. After all, protein is the only macronutrient that will rebuild damaged muscle tissue from exercise and weight training. The muscles must be fed a constant supply of protein in order to rebuild and grow larger and stronger.

Carbohydrates, however, have gotten somewhat of a bad rap over the years. Thanks in part to the various low-carb diets that have become so popular in this country; carbs have taken a back seat in nutritional importance to protein. Even many bodybuilders and athletes don't pay as much attention to carbohydrates as protein.

This is actually a big mistake for those seeking to maximize lean muscle and performance. Carbs are the main fuel used by the muscles during a weight-training workout. Glycogen (carbs stored in the muscle cells) provides energy for workouts and allows you to lift those heavy weights in the gym day after day, which translates into bigger and stronger muscles. Without enough carbs, you'll run out of gas before you can do justice to a good muscle-building workout.

So when is the single most important time to consume carbs? AFTER training. Since your body uses glycogen for energy during an anaerobic weight training workout, your glycogen stores will be depleted after hitting the weights. If you do not replace those burned carbs immediately after your training session, you're missing out on a great opportunity to increase your muscle growth and enhance muscle recovery and recuperation.

If you're trying to lose stored body fat, you should always avoid consuming too many carbs at one time and eating too many simple sugars. Either one of these practices will force your body to release a large amount of insulin to transport those carbs out of the bloodstream and into the cells of your body in order to keep the blood sugar level stable. Most of the time, too many carbs consumed at one sitting or eating too many of the wrong type of carbs will lead to more fat storage.

However, after a weight training workout, your body will be desperately looking to replace the depleted glycogen stores in the muscle cells. If you consume lots of carbs right after your workout, those carbs will be shuttled directly into the muscle cells instead of the fat cells. The depleted glycogen stores in your muscles will act like a sponge and soak up all those carbs into the muscle cells. The result will be bigger and fuller muscles with a much quicker recovery period.

Insulin is like a transport system, shuttling the nutrients from the food you eat into the cells of your body. Your body is in a unique metabolic state after an intense weight training session. The glycogen and the amino acids in your muscle cells are depleted in response to the stress imposed on muscles by the workout. It is critical that you replace these essential nutrients into the muscle cells as quickly as possible to avoid muscle tissue loss.

In addition to the carbs, it's important to consume protein to replace the amino acids lost during the workout. The carbs consumed immediately after a training session will raise the insulin level in the body, which will transport those carbs into the muscle cells. Wouldn't it make sense to also take in protein at this time so those important nutrients are also shuttled into the muscle cells by the high insulin level?

Because you want these carbs and protein immediately absorbed into the muscle cells to take advantage of this critical window of opportunity, it is more advantageous to consume a liquid drink containing these important nutrients instead of going home and eating a whole food meal. Food would need to be more fully digested and assimilated to the muscle cells and this process would take too long.

This post-workout recovery drink should contain the right amount of protein to restore amino acids and the right amount of carbs to replace the glycogen that was depleted during the workout. It's also important that you consume fast-acting protein and carbs so they are digested quickly, thus forcing the body to release high amounts of insulin to transport these nutrients directly into the muscle cells.

Optimum Nutrition is proud to announce the debut of 2:1:1 Recovery, a state-of-the-art post-workout recovery drink that contains the most essential nutrients necessary for restoring the muscle glycogen and amino acids for maximum growth and recuperation. ON looked at the highest quality and most efficient food supplements being used by athletes and bodybuilders and combined all these ingredients in the ideal ratios into one incredible product.

2:1:1 Recovery gets its name from the ratio of nutrients contained in the product to help enhance muscle recovery and growth. All the necessary carbs, protein, and individual amino acids are included in this superior post-workout product. In accordance with current scientific research, 2:1:1 Recovery contains twice as many carbs as protein to help restore muscle glycogen faster. The recommended serving provides 70 grams of carbohydrates and 35 grams of protein.

The carb component of the product is two parts glucose polymers and waxy maize starch along with one part sucrose and one part fructose. These quick acting carbs will be rapidly absorbed into the muscle cells to restore the depleted glycogen stores. The simple carbs will also promote the rapid release of insulin into the bloodstream, which will help with the quick uptake of carbs into the muscle cells.

The protein make-up of 2:1:1 Recovery contains a blend of different proteins which will both quickly restore the depleted protein stores in the muscles as well as provide a sustained release of protein to the muscles long after the workout is completed. There are two parts of Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate as the primary ingredient in the protein component of 2:1:1 Recovery. Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate is the single most rapidly absorbed protein by the body. It's the perfect protein for a post-workout drink. In addition to the whey protein isolate, 2:1:1 Recovery also contains one part Micellar Casein and Egg Albumin to keep a sustained release of amino acids from the protein sources.

Finally, 2:1:1 Recovery also contains the vital Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). These three amino acids (Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine) are the primary energy source in the muscle cells from protein. BCAAs are utilized for energy during an intense workout and they should be supplemented to prevent possible muscle tissue loss. The amino acid Leucine has been shown in research studies to be a vital component in muscle tissue recuperation, so 2:1:1 Recovery contains two parts Leucine to one part Isoleucine and Valine.

When it comes to muscle recuperation and growth after a workout, don't neglect the importance of carbohydrates. Taking in whey protein alone after an intense training session will not restore the necessary glycogen into the muscle cells and will limit your muscle size and recovery. Take advantage of your window of opportunity after a workout by using a post-workout recovery drink like ON's 2:1:1 Recovery and take your physical development to a whole new level.

John Hansen
Natural Mr. Olympia
ON Reps and Sets Athlete

The author is a compensated ON Athlete, however, the views, opinions, and comments expressed here are those exclusively of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Optimum Nutrition.
Leave a Comment
Source Material
Sep 27, 2013
Without cited sources this merely reads as opinion.
Feb 23, 2014
I love how this does not at least acknowledge the low carb "diet" argument.