Everyone wants a body with low body fat; unfortunately, most of the time carbs are eliminated to accomplish this. You do not have to eliminate carbs to get your low body fat percentage; you simply need to understand when to eat carbs and how to appropriately eat them. Keeping carbs in your diet actually allows you to more efficiently burn unwanted fat if you have a diet plan that works.

It is important to keep carbs in your diet because they are an essential macronutrient that provides your body with the energy that it needs to survive and do daily tasks. Having an understanding as to how you can effectively use carbs to your advantage will ensure that your body has adequate fuel for completing any activity.

Why the Time for Eating Carbs Matters

Exercising regularly sets a timer within your body for fat gain or loss, as well as muscle gain or loss. It is important that you understand when to eat carbs for bodybuilding to ensure that you get the proper amounts at the proper times. You put in the effort at the gym, so you want to consume the right foods at the right times to improve the success of those efforts.

You especially need to know when to eat carb as your body handles each type of carbohydrate differently. The carbs that take time to digest and convert to energy will help you control your insulin levels, which in turn improves your workouts and energy burn over time.

Carbs that provide you with slow digestions are those that are high in fiber and low in simple sugars. Foods such as legumes and many vegetables contain these slow digesting carbs. On the other hand, eating carbs that come from fruits and processed foods provide your body with simple carbohydrates which breakdown more quickly, creating glucose spikes in your blood stream and an imbalance of insulin production. These carbs will also increase the levels of blood triglycerides and bad cholesterol.

Sticking with unprocessed and raw foods will provide your body with the metabolic rate which you desire for bodybuilding and remaining healthy.

When to Eat Carbs

 During and after physical activity is probably the best choice for when to eat carbs. These types provide you the best scenario for consuming carbs because your fitness levels are high and your body is burning the excess energy. Another great time to eat more carbs is when you have lower body fat levels at 15% for men and 20% for women because your body will not store the excess as fat.

Consuming the bulk of your carbs with a post workout meal will allow your muscles to replace much needed glycogen as well as increase recovery rate. You will benefit more from the ability to replace lost glycogen at this time.

When you consume most of your carbs after exercise, you will speed up the recovery process. It is also best to consume your most carb dense foods during and after exercise for up to about 3 hours. By consuming the denser carbs, you will also lower the amount of protein rich foods that your body needs. Remember that when and what you eat will depend on how long after or before your workout you need to eat.

Some of the factors include:

  • Exercise intensity, length, and type

  • How long it has been since your last meal

  • Your body composition

  • Medications that you may be taking

  • Any other health conditions you have

  • Your sleep schedule

  • Type of food you eat

  • Time of day

If you are not eating within the three hour window before or after your workout, it is important that you limit your carb intake. Eating about three hours before and after your workout will give you two meals that are about 5-6 hours apart which are perfect for consuming the most carbohydrates. At other times, you want to aim for fewer carbs and more lean proteins and fats.

Types of Carbs


Fiber-rich carbs

When to eat: anytime

The rich content of fiber helps keep your body systems working properly and effectively. Fiber is also a great addition to your meals because it helps you feel full longer. These are great morning carbs for bodybuilding.

Fiber-rich foods are the carbs that your body will break down slowly, giving you long lasting energy and helps control your blood sugar levels. You will find several nutrients that promote health in foods that contain fiber. Some of the foods you may eat include vegetables, fruits, and legumes.


Starchy carbs

When to eat: during the 3 hours after exercise

Starchy carbs are best consumed after your workout. Whole grains, acorn squash, oats, and some cereals are extremely dense in carbohydrates and contain lower amounts of fiber.

Your muscles will extract the carbs from these foods very quickly and efficiently when they have been exercised. It is still important to maintain a proper energy balance so you do not want to overindulge in these carbs. Try your best to stick to the recommended serving size.


Refined sugary carbs

When to eat: during and immediately after exercise

Refined sugary carbs are mostly in the highly processed foods that the average person consumes. More often than not these foods are considered “empty calorie” foods because they do not benefit your health.

You may want to keep some sugary carbs in the form of sports drinks, raisins, figs, and nutrition bars to help give you extended energy. If you have an extra-long workout, these carbs will help give you that extra boost you need; however, you do not want to make a meal out of them.

  • You want to consume your carbs when you have the time to burn the energy. It is not recommended that you consume carbs in the evening before bed. You can still have a snack, but it is best to eat proteins and maybe a small piece of fruit.
  • Be sure to balance your carbohydrates throughout your day. You do not want to eat all of your carbs with one meal. Make sure you eat a small amount of carbs with every meal.

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