THE GLYCEMIC INDEX

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The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale that measures the speed at which 100 grams of a carbohydrate enter the blood as sugar. The index assigns numbers to carbohydrate foods based on the speed at which it is consumed.  In order to build muscle mass, you need to increase your caloric intake from carbohydrates.  Dieters, when they are trying to lose weight, avoid fast-acting carbohydrates.  Yet, when you have reached your weight loss goal, in order to retain and build muscle mass you need to eat fast-digesting carbohydrates or you will put your body in the condition for muscle loss.

Carbohydrates are vital to building muscle mass, therefore, if you fail to eat the right amount you’ll never gain the size and mass you want.  Weight training with high levels of intensity requires glucose which is the basic energy source that enables the muscles to contract and lift the weights you need to stimulate muscle growth.  The best nutrition sources for this are potatoes, rice, pasta, grains, fruit, and other carbohydrates that store the sugar found in muscle tissue.  Eating these carbohydrates coupled with the right type and amount of protein allows you to train harder and longer.

Another advantage to eating the right amount of carbohydrates is the hormonal change that enables muscle growth. Insulin will turn on the system responsible for collecting glucose from what you eat and will transfer it into muscle glycogen.  Insulin will also increase your muscle’s ability to absorb amino acids found in proteins.

Muscles are made of protein, but if you fail to ingest the right amount of carbohydrates on a high protein diet the protein will be wasted because it will be burned up as fuel.  Consuming an adequate amount of carbohydrates will allow your muscles to recover and grow because protein breakdown will come to a screeching halt.  If you want to build muscle mass you must train your body to respond to carbohydrate foods the right way.  Muscles depleted of glycogen have very sensitive insulin receptors and carbohydrates will be stored as glycogen first before stimulating fat storage.

Another way to manipulate the speed at which high-glycemic carbohydrates enter the bloodstream is to include fiber.  Adding a small number of vegetables dulls the rate at which high-glycemic carbohydrates are absorbed. If you keep your diet to the right amount of protein, a vegetable, and a high-glycemic carbohydrate (mashed potatoes for example) your GI will drop because the protein and vegetable will off-set the carbohydrate.

**If you are “carbohydrate-sensitive”, your carbohydrate intake will have to be more closely monitored in order to build lean body muscle mass.  This group may be better off sticking with a calorie-controlled diet emphasizing lower glycemic carbohydrates.

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