When bodybuilders and physique competitors prepare for a competition, they manipulate their carbohydrate intake to help reduce body fat and water weight. The type, amount and when carbs are consumed helps the bodybuilder achieve a lean, muscular physique.
Types of Carbohydrates
There are two main carbohydrate sources -- starchy and non-starchy carbs. Starchy carbohydrates provide energy. Bodybuilders stick with fruits and whole-grains such as oatmeal, brown rice and potatoes as their main starchy carb sources. Non-starchy carbs are the leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, green beans and asparagus. Non-starchy carbs are low-calorie, nutrient-dense and high-fiber and consumed in most meals throughout the day.
Controlling portion size is essential on a bodybuilding diet. Bodybuilders tend to consume five to seven small, evenly portioned and spaced meals throughout the day. Many dieters weigh and measure their serving sizes for each of their meals, but you can use your hands to determine to the correct portions. A portion of starchy carbs fits in one cupped hand; a portion of fruit or vegetables fits in two cupped hands, notes Tosca Reno, author of "The Eat-Clean Diet Stripped."
When to Consume Carbs
Carbohydrates provide energy to fuel your day and help recover from workouts. Carbohydrates are best consumed in the morning or following a workout when your insulin sensitivity is high. High-insulin levels slow the fat-burning process, so keep insulin levels controlled, notes Derek Charlebois, author of "The Diet Solution." Consuming starchy carbohydrates only during times when insulin sensitivity is high, means less insulin is needed to store ingested carbohydrates in the muscles and more fat will be used for energy.
Bodybuilding diets tend to consist of a lean protein source and non-starchy vegetables at every meal. Healthy unsaturated fat sources are consumed in small amounts. Since insulin sensitivity varies from person to person, you may need to consume starchy carbs more than once a day; whereas, another person can get by with just one serving of starchy carbs daily. Stick with starchy carbs either in your first meal of the day or the meal following your workout for best fat loss results.