Can you build muscle without carbohydrates?

You wonder if you can build muscles without carbohydrates? Are carbohydrates really necessary or is it also possible with a low-carb or ketogenic diet? After reading this article, you will know if and how many carbohydrates you need and what role they play in muscle building.

It is possible to build muscle without carbohydrates as long as sufficient protein is consumed. However, in practice and especially at an advanced level, it is difficult to achieve long-term success with a low-carbohydrate diet. Muscle building can only occur if an appropriate muscle stimulus is provided in addition to protein intake. In order to generate this muscle stimulus and continuously increase our performance, we need energy, which the body obtains primarily from carbohydrates.

Why are carbohydrates important for muscle building?

Carbohydrates are stored in the body as glycogen. When the body needs energy, glycogen is the primary source to provide it. Carbohydrate intake is especially important before exercise to provide strength and energy, and after exercise to replenish depleted glycogen stores. When glycogen stores are depleted, the body gets energy second from fat and last from protein, which is less appropriate because these nutrients primarily perform other tasks.

How many carbohydrates do you need to build muscle?

To find out how many carbohydrates you need, you must first calculate your calorie consumption. For muscle building, you can add a daily caloric surplus of 300-500 calories plus another 500 calories on training days. The macronutrient distribution is not set in stone and can be adjusted over time. A guideline you can follow: 2g of protein per kg of body weight, 1g of fat per kg of body weight, and the remaining calories for carbohydrates.


Building muscle without carbohydrates is possible, but not effective. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy and help increase strength and power during training to provide the necessary muscle stimulus. Especially before and after training, carbohydrate intake is important to fill glycogen stores. Since you need a calorie surplus anyway to build muscle, there is no reason to skimp on carbohydrates.

Did this article help you with your diet? Feel free to share your experience in the comments, I’m happy to exchange ideas with you. If you have further questions about muscle building and carbohydrates, you can also ask me there, I’ll be happy to help you!

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