Carbohydrate Timing for Better Health and Fitness

Here’s something you probably already know: our bodies love carbs. And while I’m sure you have heard how important protein is for muscle building, and how you should always make sure you get a lot of protein to grow muscles, carbs in their own right play a serious role in helping you develop your physique.

Carbohydrates are responsible for maintaining healthy muscle. They also provide us with energy throughout the day and during our workouts. At the end of the day, the food you eat comes down to 2 things: digestion and absorption.

Making sure you get healthy, quality foods over the course of several meals will ensure you’re consuming enough healthy calories to help your muscles recovery from intense training and grow stronger. But did you know there are two instances in which your body utilises carbs better than any other time of day?



I like to call these instances “windows of opportunity”, the first being right when you wake up. Your glycogen stores are at their lowest point since you’ve basically been feeding off your blood sugar during the time you slept.

The second window of opportunity comes along after you intentionally deplete your body of glycogen through, you guessed it, training. If you’re trying to burn excess fat and want to make the most of it, give yourself some time after a workout to let your amped up metabolism continue burning calories.

After 45 minutes is when you should get your first serving of simple carbs and protein to help replenish your muscles and prevent going into a catabolic state; in layman’s terms, this means your body begins to break down muscle tissue as energy due to severe depletion of glycogen.


So why is timing your carbs in these two instances so important? Well, when we consume carbohydrates the human body releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin will do one of two things depending on the state of our glycogen stores.

For example, consuming carbs after an intense workout results in the insulin feeding the carbohydrates to where your body needs it the most — your muscles.

However, if you’re loading up on carbs an hour after a huge meal while laying in bed watching Netflix, your body won’t feed the carbs to the muscle because your glycogen stores are already full. Instead, those precious nutrients will be stored in fat cells, adding more work for you when it comes to shedding unwanted body weight (fat).

Keep these tips in mind when you’re planning your meals and see the way your body changes. Think of your body as a finely tuned machine and feeding it properly will result in optimal performance.


Anthony Hill

When you put together the sum total of my 30 years of bodybuilding training, the contests, the vast array of diets I have experimented (tortured) myself with as well as the experiences I have been through with various training partners in the gyms I have trained in all over the world, it’s been a great ride and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to be able to do lots of personal training for private clients alongside my day job. For a few years during my 30’s, I moved to Asia and worked as the Fitness Manager and head personal trainer at one of Thailand’s leading gyms in Bangkok. Learn More

Recommended For You

Interval Training Basics Explained


HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is taking off across the globe. The short, intense nature of the workouts appeal to people who want to maximise their