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Carbs for Weightlifting

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On my way to the medals, I gained a lot of very useful and interesting experience and knowledge about weightlifting nutrition. And I have something to share with you. Today, I want to tell you about the key nutrient for weightlifters – carbohydrates.

Carbs for Weightlifting

Basic Recovery Methods for Weightlifters

Consistent and intensive loads will not give you victories and medals if you neglect recovery. We can tread water for years, holding back our results, only because of poor recovery strategy or even its absence. The two key components of our sport are sleep and nutrition. 

Sleep is a wonderful tool to recover after heavy workouts. Nevertheless, we sometimes fail to devote enough time to this part, and it takes its toll on recovery. 

There may also be another problem – the quality of sleep might suffer for different reasons. Stress, poor work-life balance (when we work too much and overlook days off), overtraining – everything can reduce sleep quality. As a result, we may get into the trap of chronic under-recovery. 

Basic Recovery Methods for Weightlifters

The other key component of effective recovery is proper nutrition. As we all know, our diet mainly consists of 3 nutrients – proteinsfats, and carbs. Each of these is equally important for our recovery, but the overall intake depends on gender, training type and volume as well as our body composition and other factors.  

I often hear the question “Do you need carbs after workout?” And I always answer “Yes!” There is no universal best time to eat carbs for muscle growth. Yet, they are just as important as other nutrients to fuel your body before a workout and restore your energy level after a session.

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Carbs for Weight Lifting – Performance Control

Carbs are the key nutrient for weightlifters to support productive sessions and proper recovery.

However, it is important to keep track of the sources of carbs. Simply eating carbs is not enough to restore glycogen (reserve glucose in the muscles and liver) and generate energy in the form of ATP. The source of carbs also makes a difference.

Candies, honey, sugar, and other sweets are rich in added (free) sugar which gives us nothing but empty calories in the form of carbs. These foods contain almost no vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. 

The opposite is whole-grain products (including bread and pasta), beans, and potatoes. These are sources of complex, thus, good carbohydrates for weight lifting as well as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. With these products, we take in lots of nutrients to accumulate our recovery after heavy training, too. 

Carbs for Weight Lifting – Performance Control

Fiber, which is found in grains and beans, also helps to control glucose and insulin spikes in the blood and, thus, reigns our hunger. On top of that, B vitamins are crucial for energy production. The recovery process will be far worse without them, and training will become hard and less productive. 

Fruits are also among those carbs rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Don’t forget about them but know the limit! I don’t recommend making fruits the main source of carbs in your weightlifter diet. Grains and beans are the best carbs for muscle growth. They are like the foundation of a building, and fruits are the windows. 

Taking into account intensive and frequent physical loads, carbs should take 50% and more of your daily calorie norm. Still, you shouldn’t give more than 10% to added sugars such as sweets, honey, or sugar. 

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Sergii Putsov

Author: Sergii Putsov
Head of Sport Science, PhD

Experience: 20 years
Best ResultsSnatch – 165 kg,
C&J – 200 kg

Sergii Putsov, Ph.D., is a former professional weightlifter and National team member, achieving multiple medals in the 94 kg weight category at national competitions. With a Master’s degree in “Olympic & Professional Sport Training” and a Sport Science Ph.D. from the International Olympic Academy, Greece, Sergii now leads as the Head of Sport Science. He specializes in designing training programs, writing insightful blog articles, providing live commentary at international weightlifting events, and conducting educational seminars worldwide alongside Olympic weightlifting expert Oleksiy Torokhtiy.

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