In Part One, The Starter Muscle Building Meal Plan, we showed you how to clean up your diet and make better food choices to improve overall health and get your body into better shape. Once you’ve got that down, you can progress onto Part 2. In this chapter, we show you a quick and easy way to cycle your carbohydrate intake to support lean muscle gains without accumulating unwanted body fat.
Quick nutrition overview: Your body stores carbohydrates as glycogen in muscles and in the liver. The more carbohydrates you can pack into your muscle cells, the bigger and fuller your muscles will be. In addition to that, for every extra gram of carbohydrate you can store inside muscle cells, an extra 3 grams of water will follow along with it, which further volumizes your muscles and creates more size and hardness.
It’s also important to remember that weight training and most high-intensity sports rely primarily on stored muscle glycogen as a fuel source. The more glycogen you have stored in muscles, the more strength, endurance and overall performance you will have in the gym and on the field for your high-intensity sport. Bottom line, more carbs equals more size and more strength…but only up to a point. You can’t simply keep loading up on large amounts of carbohydrates every day. At some point you will spill over – a term used to describe how excess carbohydrate intake can be converted to free fatty acids and stored as fat if you’re consuming well beyond what your body can assimilate. That’s where the strategy of carbohydrate cycling comes in.
Carbohydrate cycling involves periodically loading up on higher amounts of carbohydrates and calories to fill up your muscle glycogen stores and create an anabolic environment for muscles to grow. This is combined with periods of regular and reduced carbohydrate intake to balance out any potential spill-over. Here is a sample diet that incorporates a simple version of carbohydrate cycling that focuses on increasing lean muscle without adding unwanted fat.