MMA Fighting: Eat Carbs and Gain Muscle

People often think of protein as the source for building muscle mass, but carbohydrates are an overlooked essential piece of the dietary puzzle. Carbohydrates are our body’s preferred source of fuel, especially during a hard workout. Fighting requires that you maintain the desired weight and build muscle power. Your training is important; however, the type of carbs you provide your body, especially during intense training, is paramount to reaching your muscle-building goals. Unfortunately, not all carbs are good for you, and it is important to understand the difference between good and bad carbs before loading up.

The Good Carbs
Good carbohydrates are dense in nutrients and come in whole-food form. If you can grab it off a tree or harvest it from the land, you have a good one. This category includes apples, potatoes, bananas, carrots, lentils, quinoa and beans. These essentials help you maintain a healthy body and a healthy weight. Eating oatmeal carbs is a fantastic way to power your morning and your body. Good carbs like oatmeal, brown rice and yams are essential to feeling full longer and giving you long-lived stable energy.

The Bad Carbs
Bad carbohydrates are ones found in foods that are processed, especially with refined sugar. A bag of chips, bread, candy, cookies and sodas are all examples of food not found in its whole form. These foods are responsible for helping you gain fat. It is important to read the label for added sugars in any product. Added sugars are always found in instant oatmeal, bread, pasta sauce and yogurt. Bad carbs are typically lower in nutrients and have been proven to have adverse effects on our bodies, including obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The Low-Down on Carbs
Carbohydrates are macronutrients along with protein and fat. The carbohydrate trifecta consists of sugar, fiber, and starch. When digested, the sugars and starches are reduced to glucose that our bodies use to power our brains, our nervous system, and our muscles. When glucose is stored in our muscles, it is called glycogen. Glycogen storage is called upon to power your training regimen. Carbs can be broken down into simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates have shorter sugar chains and burn faster, whereas complex carbohydrates, have longer sugar chains and take longer to break down. Therefore, when carbo-loading for an intense training session or fight, a feast of complex carbs is essential to helping you stay powered.

The Essential Element for Building Muscle Mass
Good complex carbohydrates are essential for high-intensity workouts and building muscle. Glycogen storage is the key element for building muscle. This is in addition to a good balance of healthy protein sources, essential fat and plenty of hydrating liquids. Seeking a good nutritionist who knows your workout intensity and frequency will be able to put together an optimal training diet that feeds your spars and your workouts. Cycling high carb and low carb days are beneficial, depending on your training program and goals. As a fighter, it is recommended that you constantly fuel your body. Meals should be spread out over 5-7 meals a day, eating approximately every three hours. The amount of carbs you need on a high-carb day depends on your body weight, training regimen and goals. It will take a bit of trial and error. Regardless of your training and fighting schedule, carbohydrates should be at the heart of any diet plan that requires stamina, intensity and optimal muscle power. If you want to build muscle mass, you must consume a high carb diet on or right before your most physically demanding workout days. This will fill your glycogen storage and protect you from breaking down protein. 

Losing muscle mass is not an option; therefore, leaving out good carbs is also not an option. Carbs help protect your body from using protein as its fuel. They are an essential piece of a healthy diet to help you obtain and maintain your desired muscle mass.


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