Are Carbs Necessary for Building Muscle? with Alan Aragon


Have you fallen victim to these common myths: Carbs are the devil, creatine is a cure-all, seed oils are bad for you, artificial sweeteners cause cancer, or fasted workouts are the only way to lose weight? Don’t fret! Renowned nutrition expert, Alan Aragon, is here to reveal the truth and help you achieve optimal health.

Alan Aragon, a nutrition researcher and educator with over 30 years of success in the field. He is known as one of the most influential figures in the fitness industry’s movement toward evidence-based information. His notable clients include Stone Cold Steve Austin, Derek Fisher, and Pete Sampras.

If there’s enough total calories in the diet, enough total carbs in the diet, and of course enough protein in the diet, then the shifting around and the positioning of carbohydrate is best left to pretty much individual preference as far as positioning it for maximizing muscle hypertrophy.

Alan Aragon


Nutritional Peak Week and Competition Day Strategies of Competitive Natural Bodybuilders

Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein

The Effects of Creatine Supplementation Combined with Resistance Training on Regional Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis

Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota

High-dose saccharin supplementation does not induce gut microbiota changes or glucose intolerance in healthy humans and mice


00:07:17 – Carb timing for muscle growth, Carb timing is less important than protein timing when it comes to muscle hypertrophy.

00:13:59 – Ketogenic diet for muscle growth, While Ketogenic dieting works for many, it’s not the optimal tool for maximizing muscle mass and retention. According to elite-level natural bodybuilders, an average of 2 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight during prep can help maximize muscle retention while losing fat.

00:15:43 – Carb timing and lifting capacity, Carb timing has less importance than protein timing when it comes to muscle hypertrophy. However, some literature suggests that lifting capacity is compromised when carbohydrates are not consumed, regardless of timing.

00:16:21 – The Effects of Fasted Lifting on Performance, Lifting fasted can compromise performance, so it’s recommended to have a mixed macronutrient meal with some level of carbohydrate within one to two hours prior to the lifting session.

00:17:40 – The Anabolic Window, The idea that quickly absorbing protein and carbohydrates post-workout maximizes muscle protein synthesis has been debunked. Constant dosing of protein, carbohydrates, and fats throughout the day negates the need to hyper-focus on the immediate post-exercise period.

00:22:17 – The Role of Carbohydrates in Maximizing Muscle Protein Synthesis, A study showed that when you have enough protein, you don’t need to add carbohydrates to it to maximize muscle protein synthesis. The optimal dose for protein is between 0.4 to 0.6g/kg of body weight, which appears to maximize the short-term anabolic effect or maximize the muscle protein synthesis response.

00:26:47 – The Benefits of Flexible Thinking, Training fasted vs fed depends on the goal and the population. While fasted training can lead to stronger anabolic signaling, compromising performance is a possibility. The best approach is to train when you can train, and when you can’t, you can make it up later.

00:32:58 – Fasting and Fat Loss, There’s no net difference over a 24-hour period between training fasted and fed when it comes to fat loss.

00:34:17 – Fasted vs. Fed Cardio, A study was conducted on untrained women comparing the effects of fasted and fed cardio on body composition, which revealed no significant differences in muscle preservation or fat loss between the two groups.

00:40:04 – Creatine Meta-Analysis, A meta-analysis was conducted on the effects of creatine on muscle hypertrophy and revealed a disappointing increase in muscle thickness among untrained subjects. However, the analysis showed a substantial increase in strength gains across multiple studies, even in highly trained subjects.

00:48:15 – Creatine Non-Responders, Creatine non-responders constitute about 20-30% of individuals who poorly respond to creatine due to various reasons, including high initial levels of muscle creatine saturation and differences in fiber type distribution across individuals. However, the majority of people who use creatine can expect to gain lean mass and strength.

00:52:09 – Benefits of Creatine, Creatine offers multifaceted benefits ranging from neurological health to musculoskeletal health and metabolic benefits. It can improve cognition, bone and joint health, and glycemic control.

00:53:39 – The Benefits of Creatine, Creatine has been shown to help with cognitive function, joint health, lean tissue function, and even increase bone density. It’s a conditionally essential compound that can be obtained through diet or supplementation.

00:56:10 – Seed Oils and Gestational Diabetes, There is speculation that Creatine could help manage gestational diabetes due to its ability to increase insulin sensitivity and muscle glucose uptake. Seed oils have been talked about as a monolithic species, but they should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

01:03:15 – Evidence-Based Nutrition, It’s important to look at the evidence when it comes to nutrition and not just blindly follow internet fairy tales or appeal to nature fallacies. Vegetable oils have consistently shown better health outcomes compared to saturated fats.

01:06:20 – Appeal to Nature Fallacy, Just because something is natural or organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you (e.g. cancer). While there are benefits to going natural when possible, technology can enhance human quality of life in multiple domains, including food technology. 01:11:39 – Non-Nutritive Sweeteners, There are different categories of non-nutritive sweeteners, such as sucralose and saccharines.

01:12:07 – Artificial Sweeteners and Health Concerns, Artificial sweeteners are relatively harmless, and the doses necessary to achieve what they achieve are negligible. Stevia, for instance, has an array of potential therapeutic effects, whereas Saccharin has been shown to cause unfavorable changes in gut microbiome.

01:19:01 – Reverse Causation and Disease Processes, Large-scale population studies that investigate the association between artificial sweeteners and heart disease, diabetes, or obesity are poorly controlled. It is much more likely that the opposite is true, with the state of having these diseases driving the consumption of artificial sweeteners to a greater degree.

01:21:08 – Convergence of Evidence, When both controlled interventions (randomized controlled trials) and observational studies (epidemiology) converge, we can confidently conclude that artificial sweeteners cause disease processes at the intermediate level and lead to actual disease endpoints.

01:23:40 – Personal Opinion, While Alan advocates for drinking plain water, he believes that consuming artificial sweeteners is a reasonable trade-off if it helps individuals reduce their sugar intake.


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I’m Dr. Stephanie

Part geek, part magic, and all the way passionate about being a well-lived woman.

I want to throw my grandkids in the air in my 70’s. I want to be squatting even more weight than I am now, and putting my OWN luggage in the overhead bin. Sound like weird goals? For me these are just some of the little things that represent a life well-lived.

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