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Sugar and Muscle Building

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Sugar Ė How Much Is Too Much for Muscle Gain?

When focusing on muscle gain, your body will require a calorie-rich, yet well balanced diet, along with a tailored strength-training regime. In order to gain muscle, your body is reliant on taking in enough calories to provide you with sufficient energy to complete your workouts, as well as creating new muscle. Carbohydrates, made up of starch and sugar, are your bodyís main source of energy. Sugar doesnít require much digestion; therefore, your body absorbs it quickly, travelling straight to your cells, presenting a readily available source of energy for your muscles. Starches, on the other hand, are broken down over time into sugars, which again will provide energy to your cells.

Sugar provides the necessary fuel required for your body to fuel your muscles and work them to their full potential, with greater intensity. The more you work your muscles, the more energy your body will require. As soon as sugar enters your body, it will quickly be broken down and absorbed; any sugar that isnít required for energy, or fuel, is immediately stored. Once sugar is stored, it causes your body to gain weight, hence why it is prevalent in many weight-gain shakes, due to the calories they contain. Itís important to remember this when using shakes as a weight-gain method; any sugar that is consumed outside of these shakes will be stored as excess calories.

There are three main types of sugar; monosaccharide, disaccharide, and polysaccharide.

Monosaccharide: The simplest and smallest form of carbohydrate made up of only one sugar molecule (fructose, glucose, and galactose).

Disaccharide: A quick digesting sugar made up of two sugar molecules which are bonded together (sucrose, lactose, and maltose).

Polysaccharide: A slow digesting sugar made up of many molecules which are bonded together. Known as the healthier source of carbohydrates (glycogen, cellulose, starch).

Too much sugar, as with most things, is not good for you; itís about getting the balance right. Too much sugar can cause diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and is generally not good for your overall health, however, using it in the right way can be advantageous for bodybuilders. Post workout, your muscles will naturally be tired, as well as yourself, due to a depleted energy store; this is known as a catabolic state where your body is breaking down larger molecules into smaller ones, such as, fats into fatty acids, and sugar into glucose. At this point, your body will be breaking down muscles and fat to reinstate its depleted energy due to an intense workout. Sugar, of course, increases blood sugar levels, and gives your body the energy it needs to work effectively, so consuming sugar post-workout will cause your muscles to absorb all of the sugar you ingest, not leaving much, if any, to be stored as fat. However, this does not necessarily mean that it would be wise to go home and eat spoonfuls of sugar. Consuming a combination of protein and high glycemic index sugar creates the balance your body is in need of, without any excess sugar being stored as fat. Protein is known for its repair values, and sugar for its energy values, therefore when combined, make a brilliant post workout concoction.

When you consume a meal that is full of sugar, your body will release insulin; this pumps sugar directly into the muscles, rather than burning it, causing any excess levels of sugar to be stored as fat. If your body is not always used to large amounts of sugar, your insulin levels will be highly sensitive; when your body incurs an insulin spike, what you consume will be more effective. However, overdoing sugar can lead to your body being much less sensitive to insulin, in turn, causing your body the need to ingest more sugar and more insulin to gain the same effects; this of course will lead to more fat being stored. Therefore, as with most things, consuming sugar should be in moderation.

Itís very hard to determine how much sugar is too much for muscle gain, as it is wholly dependent on the person, their body, and their diet. Knowing when to consume sugar is a good starting point; in the mornings for an energy boost, combined with protein and other nutrients, and post workout when your body is depleted of energy and needs a lift. The key to sugar is Ďusingí it in moderation (instead of relying on it), at the correct times, for effective muscle gain. Avoid excess sugar intake at other times and opt for a protein rich meal instead.

Combining with adequate nutrition, sugar can be used to repair and improve muscle size/gain. Ensure that you replenish your glycogen stores to meet your bodyís energy demands, which generally equates to 2g-4g of carbohydrates per pound of body weight, per day.

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