One of the most important factors in achieving bodybuilding success is muscle definition, which is directly linked to body fat percentage, and a factor that makes bodybuilding a challenge for many. In the hunt for the perfectly defined physique, carbohydrates receive a fair amount of criticism in the bodybuilding world, with articles regularly written on how carbohydrates contribute to excess body fat, and because of this widespread negativity, many bodybuilders pursue muscle building with a higher fat, lower carbohydrate approach, with hopes of maintaining a reasonable body fat percentage. But is there a point where carbohydrate consumption can decline excessively, reaching a level where muscle gains become extremely difficult, if not impossible? For those who ride the current bodybuilding bandwagon, the answer to this question would seem to be no, but reality is often far different than what popular bodybuilding notions will have us believe.

There is truth to the claim that excessive carbohydrates will cause body fat levels to rapidly increase, blurring muscle definition, and many find themselves battling a rotund mid-section and love handles due to haphazard carbohydrate consumption. But stripping carbohydrates to very low levels with the hope of avoiding the common bulge battle is a serious blunder, as although body fat accumulation will certainly decline using such an approach, the potential for muscle gain will inversely follow, with dramatic declines in future muscle size improvements, to the point where no further muscle gains are possible. Of course, a bodybuilder not only has the goal of minimizing body fat levels, but also maximizing muscle gain, therefore bringing carbohydrates to either extreme will interfere with one of the two goals, leaving the bodybuilder with a frustrated, bitter experience as he or she attempts to produce a balance between muscle size and low body fat levels.

What proponents of the low carbohydrate diet fail to realize is that muscle gains rely upon carbohydrates to fuel certain hormones in the body, namely insulin, which is extremely anabolic, leading to massive muscle increase, but also fueling quick, significant body fat gains when utilized improperly. Because insulin is directly linked with carbohydrate consumption, in order to produce the most dramatic muscle gains, carbohydrates must be present in the diet, but to prevent body fat from spiraling out of control, both the level of carbohydrates and time of the day in which such nutrients are consumed must be systematically implemented in order to offer muscles sufficient carbohydrate nutrients for growth, while minimizing negative impact on body fat percentage.

In addition to boosting insulin for anabolic impact, carbohydrates offer an immediate source for energy, and since the body must generate explosive output, carbohydrates offer the fuel for maximum effort during weight training workouts. When following a low carbohydrate focus, the body is unable to generate maximum torque during each weight lifting set, and therefore future muscle gains are negatively impacted, and already built muscle is also at risk of being lost. Those who follow a low carbohydrate focus tend to lose weight lifting workout motivation, as a lack of sufficient carbohydrates can negatively impact mood and motivation, leading to very poor weight training performance, which directly impacts muscle building in an extremely negative way.

One additional detrimental factor with a low carbohydrate diet focus is metabolism reduction, and although initially a low carbohydrate diet plan may shed body fat and produce greater definition, the long term impact of such a diet will not only burn muscle, but will also reduce metabolism (the rate at which the body burns calories), which means that the body will require less food to maintain a particular body fat level. Because of this, fat percentage will begin to increase when food intake reaches a muscle building intake due to this metabolic slowdown, and the net result is a greater fat level than is otherwise possible through properly balancing carbohydrates with protein and fat.

When attempting to improve muscle size and definition, please ignore the misconception suggesting that carbohydrates are the evil companion that interferes with success, as by banishing this vital nutrient from your weight lifting diet routine, you will no doubt experience far less muscle size and definition than is otherwise possible, but by integrating carbohydrates at strategic times and in proper quantities, you will allow the body to build muscle mass without the customary body fat surge that accompanies common weight gain routines. Carbohydrates, if used correctly, are one of the muscle building and fat loss keys to success!

Author's Bio: 

Francesco Castano is the owner of IncrediBody, a physical fitness company dedicated to helping others learn exactly how to gain muscle mass and lose weight without supplements or drugs. He authors two programs, one called MuscleNOW, teaching the correct bodybuilding diet and weight training program for muscle gain at, and Fat Vanish, which teaches how to lose weight & burn fat for natural weight loss, at He includes lifetime email personal training with both programs, where he personally assists all of his clients with training and diet questions, and has hundreds of testimonials validating the effectiveness of his techniques. He also offers weight training equipment, protein powder and fitness accessories at Please visit his web sites, and feel free to contact Francesco at any time with your muscle building or weight loss questions!