10 best carbohydrates that build muscle

carbohydrates that build muscle

That proteins build muscle is a fact that you know. But did you know that carbohydrates have an important role in the building of muscles? Proteins and carbohydrates are macronutrients which have to be included in your diet in a balanced manner, if you want to build up your muscles. Proteins require carbs to function, and when you are on an intense workout regime to build muscle, your carbohydrate intake has to be adequate. A low carb diet is actually not advised if you are trying to accrue muscle. This is because if your body runs low on carbs, it will use protein to make glucose to provide energy to the body. So eat healthy carbs to build lean muscle.

All carbohydrates are not the same, so check out this list of carbohydrates that build muscle effectively:

10 carbohydrates that build muscle 


eat-oatsOats is one of the best carbs that build muscle. It’s probably the healthiest grain on the planet. If you check out the diets of famous body builders, you will find that oats is included in their daily diet. This is because oats comprise of 66% carbs, of which almost 11% is fiber. Oats fiber is extremely soluble. Oats have a high GI (Glycemic Index) which will keep you full longer. Moreover, it does not have any unhealthy fat and even have some protein. So do carbs build muscle or protein? Carbs like oats do build muscle, and one of the carbohydrates that build muscle.


Beans are a food which is carbohydrate rich and full of fiber. The GI is low too which makes it a pretty healthy carb. Apart from that, beans are a great source of protein, folate, iron and essential minerals which contribute to your body building effort. If you wanted to know, do carbs build muscle or protein, carbs like beans certainly help in muscle building.

Sweet potatoes

Another item on our list of best carbs that build muscle is sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes help in lean muscle gain, and are thus one of the best carbohydrates that build muscle. Sweet potatoes are the favorite pre-workout food of body builders. It is carbohydrate dense, low in GI and the high fiber level helps to maintain insulin levels. Consume a sweet potato snack before your workout to get the high energy levels which will keep you exercising for a long time!


QuinoaIf you’re allergic/intolerant to gluten, then quinoa is perhaps the best carbohydrates that build muscle for you. It is gluten free, has low GI as well as 25% healthy carbs. Just like oats, quinoa also does not cause any insulin spike. It is absorbed by the body slowly, thus keeping you full for a long time. Again, this carb is invaluable for a lean muscle building program.

Wheat pasta

Wheat pasta, which is made with whole grains is one of the carbohydrates that build muscle. When you’re tired of other carbs, you can make yourself tasty pasta, with olive oil, tomatoes, onions, other veggies and garlic. Wheat pasta is packed with fiber and carbs, which you have to include in your muscle gain diet. Do not use mayonnaise or premade pasta sauce as these contain added sugars which you absolutely don’t need.


Yogurt, which does not have any added sugar, is also a great carbohydrate. Consume plain yogurt which will not lead to unwanted fat, and give you calcium too.


A bowlful of lentil soup or ‘dal’ will enhance your digestion and provide the healthy carbs your body requires. As it is also a protein, so with lentils you will receive the answer to ‘do carbs build muscle or protein?’, as lentils contain both!


Beetroots are one of the carbs build muscle. You can consume beetroots in cooked and raw form, so add it to your salad, have it as a juice, or in soup form. One cup raw beets have about 15 gms carbs consisting of fiber and sugar. Antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and nitrites are present in beets, which is why beetroots have been used to increase the performance of endurance exercises traditionally.

Brown rice

Brown rice takes some time to cook, and has a unique taste. Soaking it in water for about half an hour before cooking will help it to cook properly later. Replace white rice or bread with brown rice and reap the benefits of this healthy carb. Keep the portion size small and enjoy the rice with vegetable curries, lentils or salads.


Woman eating raspberriesSome muscle building diets may ask you to avoid fruits as they are high in natural sugar called fructose. But fruits like watermelon, oranges, apples, kiwis are low in carbs and will not affect your muscle building efforts. Make sure you snack on fruits, instead of gorging on them to your heart’s content! Large quantities of fruit may lead to extra fat being produced in the body. As with everything, fruits in moderation can be mentioned in the list of carbohydrates that build muscle. 

Tips to help you get the most out of healthy carbs 

The best time to eat carbs is…

Eat carbs for breakfast…in the morning. To maximize the effects of carbs in body building, you must be aware of the time/times to consume it. The optimum time of the day when you should get your healthy carbs dose to take advantage of its anabolic/ protein sparing capability is in the morning. Eat carbs for breakfast right after waking up, post workout and 1 and ½ hours before your workout.

How to use GI to your advantage

Healthy carbs have low GI or Glycemic Index, as you well know. The difference between foods like oats, quinoa, whole-wheat or any high fiber foods, and sugary foods like juices, sodas is that those high fiber foods are absorbed by the body slowly. High sugar foods do give you energy ‘ ‘rush’, but also make you ‘crash’ faster. So eating low GI carbs will prevent the rush, help in weight loss and muscle building.

Carbohydrates are extremely necessary when you are building your body, along with proteins. You should consult your trainer to know the exact amount of healthy carbs you need to include in your diet.

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