Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

Protein or Carbohydrates?

This has got to be the biggest controversy in modern bodybuilding. Bodybuilders will say you've got to consume loads of protein to pack on quality muscle mass and increase strength. Nutrition experts say that you must eat a high carbohydrate diet, particularly complex carbs, to improve strength and size, and say that a high protein is of no benefit.

Who is right? You could say both are right. Only a few studies have been carried out looking into high protein intake and improvements in strength and muscle size. The results are inconclusive. Study design was poor, often only having very few subjects, who may be over-training or under-training. Other aspects of diet were often overlooked and most were only carried out on novice weight trainers who may not know how to train correctly. Also, the topic of anabolic steroids is avoided which does increase demand for protein.


Muscle consists mainly of two proteins, actin and myosin. The turnover rate of amino acids in these proteins is high, and increases upon stimulation such as exercise. If the muscle is worked to maximum effort like during a correctly executed bodybuilding workout, turnover is extremely high. Hence, there is a large demand from the body's pool of amino acids. High carb fans say this demand can be met by only a moderately higher than normal protein intake. High protein fans argue very high levels of protein are needed to meet demand. Bodybuilders who have plateaued in their gains for long periods, have dramatically increased their protein intake and started making gains. Also anabolic steroids increase the rate of protein synthesis within muscle cells, further increasing demand for protein.


The argument for a high carb intake comes from the fact that we need energy to fuel our workouts and to recuperate and grow. This is certainly the case for athletes who may need as much as 60% of their energy intake from carbs. High carb advocates also say that a "normal" intake of high protein foods should be eaten, as starchy carbohydrate foods also contain some protein, which will increase protein intake sufficiently. The type of carbs that should be consumed is high fiber starchy ones like whole meal bread, brown rice, whole wheat breakfast cereals, etc.

Using Both Protein and Carbs

Dietitians and nutritionists too often look at the percentage of total energy intake for proteins and carbohydrates. It would be better to look at actual intake levels. Both protein and carbs are needed in high amounts in order to gain muscle for all the reasons discussed above.

The problem in giving general advice is that we are individuals and therefore our requirements for different nutrients vary. If you are trying to gain muscle at the same time as trying to lose body fat, your carbohydrate intake will need to be reduced. If you are a beginner bodybuilder who is very skinny, your protein intake will need to be high and you will need to consume high carb foods regularly to gain weight.

Remember, you will not make good gains unless your protein intake is sufficient. Any successful bodybuilder will tell you this, no matter what so-called experts say and clinical trials show. A reasonably high intake of quality carbs is also required to train on and for recuperation. Eat complex carbs regularly throughout the day.

It is hard to give you figures of how much is required, as we are all so different. But as a general rule for any bodybuilder who is trying to gain muscle size and strength and does not wish to gain bodyfat, the following would be a good guide:

Protein: 1.0-1.5g of protein per pound bodyweight, depending on whether you use anabolic steroids. The intake must be staggered throughout the day at regular intervals.

Carbohydrate: Approximately 2g per pound bodyweight, and eat regularly through the day. As well as the above, remember to eat a balanced healthy diet, which is reasonably low in fat and high in fruit and vegetables.

Jeffrey Bedeaux

Your guide to building muscle and getting fit.

Over the past 16 years I have read 100's of magazines, almost 100 books, attended about a dozen seminars and consumed any other type of information on the topic of bodybuilding to advance my knowledge in this area. I also have a Bachelors of Science degree in Biochemistry with minors in Chemistry and Microbiology from Colorado State University, 1998.



#360fit: How much protein do you need to build muscle?
How much protein does the body really need to build muscle? What happens if you take too much or too little? Protein is essential for recovery and growth and we examine just how much protein you really need to build the muscle you work so hard to gain.

The Sport Review

The top nutrition tips for gym goers looking to build muscle
The Sport Review
Leading sports scientist and 9BAR ambassador Greg Whyte gives his top nutrition tips for gym goers looking to build muscle. Greg says: Train hard. There are no shortcuts to increasing muscle mass. You must stress the muscle through exercise to induce ...

and more »

The Sport Review

Branched chain amino acids: Can BCAAs help to build muscle at the gym?
The Sport Review
Branched chain amino acids: Can consuming BCAAs help to build muscle at the gym? We asked a leading sports scientist for his take. 9BAR. By 9BAR Sunday 22 November 2015, 12:07 UK. 22SHARES. BCAA gym. BCAAs are available in both tablet and ...

The Cheat Sheet

The Best Ways to Build Muscle
The Cheat Sheet
The following tips will help you make the most of your time spent at the gym or otherwise so that you can build muscle fast. First, it's important to analyze your food intake — this includes calories you're taking in and what foods you're getting ...

and more »

The Cheat Sheet

5 Treadmill Workouts That Burn Fat and Build Muscle
The Cheat Sheet
No matter how negatively you feel about it, the treadmill is one of the most effective gym tools for torching calories and building endurance. Even die-hard runners don't much care for running in place. Maybe it's because a treadmill run has a way of ...

Workout of the Week: Supplements May Build Muscle Mass
Dot Prater is in month five of a year-long study to determine if Vitamin D combined with Hydroxymethylbutyrate, or HMB, leads to greater gains during resistance training. "I know my body mass index has decreased, but I see it in strength," says Prater ...

The Cheat Sheet

How to Build Muscle Without Gaining Fat
The Cheat Sheet
There is a myth that you have to gain fat to gain muscle, but it's just not true. Many men and women are turned off from the benefits of strength training because they don't want to bulk up. However, with a few techniques and diet modifications, there ...

The Medium

How skinny guys build muscle & how to say “No!” to sweets
The Medium
You may be a genetic ectomorph—in other words, “thin”—but want to be a genetic mesomorph, where your biceps bulge out of your shirt like an inflated balloon. Even though your lean physique will likely stay with you for the rest of your life, there's ...

The Cheat Sheet

How Monitoring Your pH Will Help You Build Muscle
The Cheat Sheet
Do you suspect you aren't gaining as much muscle as you should be? If you've been working out hard and getting enough protein and calories, there may be a missing link keeping you from your ideal gains: your pH balance.

Do Vitamin D3 Supplementation Help Women Build Muscle Postmenopause?
34-meno-symptoms-img1 Sources said the vitamin D supplements for postmenopausal women and its benefits have been widely argued. However, according to a new study from Sao Paulo, Brazil, vitamin D supplementation can considerably increase ...

Google News


Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright LLC. All rights reserved.