The number of carbs you need to stay lean is considerably more than the amount you should consume to get lean. Cutting carbs helps you reduce body fat, but it also impacts your ability to increase muscle mass. If you’re already lean—and you want to stay that way—but your goal is to add muscle mass, try the following:

Take in about 2 grams of carbs for every pound of body weight each day.

This means that a 150-pounder should get in 300 grams of carbs, and a 200-pound lean bodybuilder should take in about 400. But that doesn’t mean you can take in any carb you want at any time of day. Look at the following tips for guidance on which carbs to consume and when.


Here’s a short list of the different types of carbs:


Yams, brown rice, buckwheat pancakes, oatmeal


Sugar, honey, syrup


Pasta, wholewheat bread, white rice, potatoes


Vegetables, beans, legumes, fruits


At certain times of day, you want slow-digesting carbs; at others, you want fast-digesting carbs. Fast-digesting carbs increase insulin release, which drives both muscle-building and body-fat storage, depending on when you take them in. Slow-digesting carbs provide sustained energy.


Here’s how much and what types of carbs a 180-pounder should consume, especially when your goal is to keep growing without adding body fat.

  • BREAKFAST | 100g of slow-digesting, fibrous carbs (Example: Oatmeal, orange)
  • MID-MORNING SNACK 40g of slow-digesting, fibrous carbs (Example: Brown rice, broccoli)
  • LUNCH 60g of starchy carbs (Example: Baked potato)
  • PREWORKOUT 50g of fast-digesting, starchy carbs (Example: Sugar, white rice)
  • POST-WORKOUT 50g of fast-digesting carbs (Example: Sugar)
  • DINNER 60g of slow-digesting, fibrous carbs (Example: Yam, spinach)
  • BEDTIME SNACK No carbs