What if you could have your cake and eat it too? What if you could build muscle without adding fat while still enjoying your carbs?
This is the power of the glycemic index and the glycemic load. The following bodybuilding diet program will be suited to those who find it too difficult a task to drop carbs to around 30 grams a day for 5 days (as in a cyclical carbohydrate diet). For carb lovers, this is as good as it gets!
What Is The Glycemic Index?
- The glycemic index ranks carbohydrates based on how much they contribute to a person’s blood sugar level. The higher the GI, the more rapid the spike in blood sugar levels. GI is ranked from 0-100 (0 having no impact on blood sugar, 100 having the most).
What Is The Glycemic Load?
- The GI doesn’t tell the whole picture though. If a food is high in carb content, it will still produce a high blood sugar level, even if it has a low GI rating. This is where the glycemic load comes in. The GL takes into account the amount and GI rating of carbohydrates to give a fuller picture of the effects on blood sugar levels. A GL rating of 10 or below is considered low.
How Does This Relate To Bodybuilding?
- If you want to build muscle without getting fat you need to accomplish two things simultaneously:
- Eating enough to fuel muscle growth
- Keeping blood sugar levels stable in order to keep insulin levels low and steady (apart from the post-workout period – more on this later)
We can accomplish this by eating enough daily calories but ensuring that our carbs are of the low glycemic load variety.
How Does This Work?
I believe fat accumulation is regulated by the hormone insulin.
The higher your glycemic load total for any given day, the more insulin will be secreted in response to those carbs. It works like this:
- Insulin is secreted in response to carbohydrates in the diet
- More specifically, more insulin is secreted quicker to higher-glycemic carbohydrates
- Insulin transports glucose to the fat cells to be burned as fuel
- Alpha-glycerol phosphate is produced from glucose when it’s burnt for fuel
- Glycerol (from the alpha-glycerol phosphate) binds fatty acids and stores them in the fat cells as triglycerides; i.e. you get fatter
- Also, glucose that is not used up through energy expenditure will be converted by the liver and stored as triglycerides in the fat tissue (again, you get fatter).
Therefore, if we can eat carbohydrates that break down slowly and give a more gradual, less pronounced rise in insulin, we can maximize increases in muscle while minimizing fat gains.
So now we can see why a low glycemic load approach to a bodybuilding diet is desirable.