Manipulating Carb Intake to Build Muscle and Burn Fat | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Manipulating Carbohydrate Intake to Build Muscle and Burn Fat

October 28, 2012 | Mitch Calvert

Must See Nutrition Videos

In a perfect world, it would be easy to simultaneously build muscle and lose fat, but can we really "have our cake and eat it too?" Depending on our individual goals, we might be asked by a coach to either bulk up or cut back. So where is the middle ground?

Bodybuilders seem to have no problem dropping ten percent of their body fat during the 12- to 16-week period leading up to a competition. Is this an illusion? To a degree, perhaps, but these athletes dial in on every component of fitness, from quantity of food to cardio and weight training, to achieve their goals.

What does this mean for the average person? With smart dieting, it is possible both to build muscle and burn fat. To build muscle, you need to time your carbohydrate intake around workouts; and to burn fat, you need to limit your insulin response during the rest of the day. There are a number of ways to do this,  including limiting carbs to pre- and post-workout meals. (Read Building a Healthy Low-Carb Diet for Athletes.)

If you don't supply your body with the nutrients needed to fuel your workouts, your cardio and weight training can become catabolic, meaning it breaks down muscle. For example, say you lift weights at 4:00 p.m. Your first two meals of the day would be carb-free; then, an hour or so before your workout, you'd eat a complete meal of protein, fat and carbs. Following the workout, your meal would include more carbs; but any meals thereafter would consist of protein and healthy fats, with no carbs. (Learn about a different variation: Carb Back-Loading: A Nutrition Hack for Supercharged Performance.)

This isn't an easy system to stick with, but if you're serious about getting fast results, it's worth a shot. Here is what a sample day would look like if you follow my suggestions:

  • Breakfast: omelet with three whole eggs, one cup egg whites and spinach
  • Lunch: extra lean beef, one tbsp. olive oil and serving of vegetables
  • Pre-workout: whey protein powder, oatmeal with one tbsp. almond butter
  • Post-workout: chicken with white rice
  • Dinner: cottage cheese with peanut butter

Topics: CARBS
Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Must See
Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick
Views: 16,189,942
Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 2,276,651
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 18,595,916

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: Duke University Views: 217,694
Eastbay: It Begins Now Views: 70,986
Path to the Pros 2015: Training Days Views: 118,412
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

How Your Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices Picture this. You are making plans with friends to go out to eat and you find your group discussing...

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

The Case for Red Meat

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

The Boston Cannons'

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue