Hey Sleeks, my message for the day is about nutrrent timing.
The great majority of us simply looking to stay fit and healthy should not over complicate things and worry too much about what to eat when, and how much. By focussing on the right balance of macronutients,getting plenty of whole foods, fruit and vegetables and water, and cutting out processed foods and sugar as much as possible, we will achieve our goals and more. For people looking to optimise performance for sport or maximise muscle gains, this is for you.
Eating the correct type of protein and carbohydrates before, during and after training is important for the following reasons:-To ensure the fast replenishment of glycogen after an intense workout; to create an anabolic hormonal environment within your body and to promote protein synthesis. In short, with the right training stimulus, meal timing is a key factor in muscle gains.
Remember that looking after your muscles is important for performance, health and fat loss. A solid nutrition plan built around quality macronutrients (proteins fats and carbs), in the right ratio for you, along with plenty of veg, fruit and water, will build a strong and healthy body. There are however also times when ‘low grade’ nutrients-the dreaded simple sugars can work in your favour to maximise muscle gains. (if you have a sugar addiction, use your discretion and perhaps compromise on potential benefits rather than useing sugar that may trigger any kind of relapse). Whatever your approach, here are my ten tips, based on science, and my own experience to help you with your nutrition strategy around exercise
- Your pre workout meal should consist of quality carbohydrates eg from vegetables, sweet potato and whole grains as well as a good protein source eg chicken , turkey, eggs and lean beef. Whey protein is also a great pre workout protein source. Keep the meal relatively light and eat about an hour to two hours before your workout depending on the individual..
- Eat simple, high GI carbohydrates during and after intense exercise (this is the only time you will ever hear me say its okay to eat sugar!) During exercise, liquid carbohydrate may play a role in creating a hormonal balance in favour of anabolism (growth), over catabolism (breakdown). (Bird, Stephen PhD, CSCS. Strength and conditioning journal). In addition, Glycogen replenishment as soon as possible after exercise is important to prevent muscle breakdown and help the body stay in an anabolic state. The most effective way of doing this is by drinking a 6-8% solution of a simple sugar eg dextrose ( found in sports drinks and post workout supplements), during and after exercise. Liquid carbohydrates are more efficiently absorbed when compared with whole foods.
- By ingesting BCAA’s(branch chain amino acids, found in many supplements), before, during and or after training, you promote muscle protein synthesis and inhibit muscle breakdown. Approximately 6g is all you need.
- In his review of the research, Stephen Bird PHD recommends a whole food post workout meal comprising 0.5g of protein per kg and 1g of carbohydrate per kg, 30 minutes after exercise, and a high carbohydrate meal 2 hours after exercise(for strength and maximum muscle gains). If your intensity and volume of exercise is not high, these quantities may be too high, so adjust nutrient intake accordingly.
- If you don’t want to be taking in any sugars, there is a patented carbohydrate derived from barley starch called Vitargo, which is fast absorbing, is not a sugar, and evidently a very effective post exercise carbohydrate. Available through some supplement suppliers.
- If you prefer to stick to foods (as opposed to liquid supplements) ensure that the post workout carbohydrate is high GI, as fast absorption is a priority. Some good examples include: white rice, mashed potato, rice cakes, dried fruit, bread, bananas, chocolate milk. Note that most fruits would not be considered a good option during, or post workout, as they have a relatively slow absorption rate. In addition, fruit and fruit juice, when taken during exercise may cause abdominal cramps in some people. (This again varies from person to person.)
- Whey protein is considered by many to be the best post exercise source of protein, as it is of a high quality and has a high absorption rate. Some evidence however suggests that if protein absorption is too fast post exercise, it is not necessarily conducive to optimal gains. I suspect more research is needed in this area. Other good sources of post workout protein include chicken, tuna, fish, turkey, lean beef and egg whites.
- Limit fat intake immediately post exercise as fat slows down the absorption rate of protein and carbohydrate, thereby slowing post exercise glycogen re synthesis and protein synthesis.
- If you’re on Paleo, or a similar lifestyle, many of the high GI options listed, eg sugar, grains etc are not an option. The paleo philosophy centres around keeping it real, and there are enough amazing examples out there to prove it works for many people. In my opinion, the best way to maximize muscle gains on a paleo diet is to eat a balanced meal before and after training, comprising primarily good carbs from veg, butternut and sweet potato as well as lean protein. Reduce fat intake in your post workout meal in favour of protein and carbohydrate (eat your fats throughout the day in other meals), and aim to eat as soon as possible after your workout. I personally wouldn’t recommend training in a fasted state unless you can rapidly replenish glycogen post workout (the options available on paleo make this more difficult, suggesting that training fasted on a paleo diet may not be the best strategy if muscle gains are a priority.)
- Train hard. If you’re not training at a high intensity and with sufficient volume, you’re not going to deplete glycogen that significantly, and the excess sugars and high GI carbs may be stored as fat. Whilst the principles still apply the training stimulus is vital to the results you can expect to see.