Working out revs up the metabolic machinery of the body, but it's good nutrition and proper timing that ultimately fuels it to change. Without the right kind of fuel your body won't recover, rebuild, and re-sculpt itself into the shape you desire. The latest research clearly shows that what you eat and when you eat, makes a tremendous difference in the speed and quality of the results you get from your workouts. Use this information to shorten the time it takes you to achieve your physique goals and bust through plateaus.
Pre-Workout Meal (1-2 hours before workouts)
When you exercise, whether it is jogging or lifting weights, your body produces a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is actually your muscle's enemy since it tears muscle down and converts it to fuel. The opposite is true for insulin which helps rebuild muscle and suppresses the release of cortisol.
Drinking a carb-filled drink therefore stimulates insulin and blunts cortisol. The result? More muscle gains! Not suprisingly, in one study cortisol levels dropped by almost 80% when athletes were give a 6% carbohydrate solution during exercise when compared to those receiving water. Another study showed that a high-glycemic, carb/protein drink was 38% more effective than a conventional protein drink in stimulating protein synthesis. Misunderstanding how these hormones work is why so many people hit plateaus in the gym despite their heavy workouts.
This is also a good time to take a fat burner or another energy supplement to get you energized for your workout.
By taking a carb/protein drink immediately after your workout, you will double your amino acid uptake and increase subsequent protein synthesis by a whopping 25% when compared to waiting a few hours! Plus you'll perform better during your next training session because your muscle glycogen will be replenished more completely.
Another recent study revealed that those who supplemented immediately post workout actually lost more body fat than those who delayed eating after their workout. (See Figure 3)
The post-workout formula should contain 15g of whey protein, which is fast-digesting), and about 45g of high-glycemic carbohydrates. This is about a 3:1 ratio of carb to protein in a liquid form for fast absorption. I would also add 2-4g of glutamine to the drink. Don't mix this formula in milk or take a milk based (casein protein) since it will slow down digestion. Now is also a great time to take creatine if you're trying to build muscle. A dose of 3-5g of creatine should do the trick. If you take a creatine transport formula that has high-glycemic carbs, just mix in some whey protein and you have a perfect post-workout formula.
I pack a shaker bottle in my gym bag containing the dry powder formula I've mentioned. As soon as I'm done working out, I add water at the drinking fountain, shake it up and drink it on the way home.Post-Workout Meal (2-3 hours after workouts)
It should focus equally on protein and carbs. Eat about 20-40g each of protein and low-glycemic carbs. Lean meats and steamed vegetables are a good choice. Stay away from refined carbs like breads, pastas, rice and cereal to minimize insulin stimulation. Once the metabolic window to build muscle has passed, excess carbs and insulin will only make you fat.
A meal replacement powder containing whey and casein (milk protein) would also be appropriate for this meal. Casein has a slower absorption profile than whey and therefore delivers a more sustained amino acid stream to the blood. This is also a good time to take an essential fat supplement like flaxseed oil and/or fish oil, as well as your multi-vitamin supplement if you have not already taken them earlier in the day. You may want to take another 3-5g of glutamine to help maximize your recovery.Meal Timing on Non-Training Days
Eating every 2-3 hours will keep your metabolism up and your hunger down while fueling your muscles with adequate protein and nutrients.
Eat starchier carbs earlier in the day and stick with salads and vegetables in the afternoon and evening.
Use meal replacement powders for 2 to 3 of the meals if necessary. Drink a pre-bedtime snack of casein and whey.
Take your creatine and glutamine as well as your multi-vitamins and essential fat supplements. And drink plenty of water, about a gallon a day.A Better Body In Less Time