When you eat is just as important as what you eat. The human body is made to survive and it will do anything that it has to in order to fulfill this task. If you go for more than four hours without consuming some type of nutrients your body will kick into survival mode where it will begin to spare carbohydrates as fuel in order to preserve them for more vital roles such as brain and central nervous function.
Macronutrients – when and when not to have them
- Protein – this macronutrient should be consumed with each feeding if possible; protein at breakfast is vital to jump start your immune system, before bed it is needed to provide building blocks to repair damaged muscle, post workout it is needed to stop muscle breakdown.
- Fats – this macronutrient should not be consumed after a workout because our body will not metabolize it well at this junction. It should be a part of every feeding aside from the post workout recovery.
- Carbohydrates – consumption of this macronutrient depends on what type of carbohydrate is being consumed. The only time sugar consumption would be advocated in certain situations is immediately after workouts in order to restore glycogen stores as quickly as possible.
Post Workout Shake (Immediately after training) – The basis of improving from
resistance and cardiovascular training stems from our ability to adapt; the SAID principal (specific adaptations to imposed demands) clearly demonstrates this response to training. In order for our body to adapt to the stresses that we impose during training we must replace what we have used during our training to shift our body from a catabolic state (breaking down) during training to an anabolic state (building / repairing) as soon as possible. We have damaged our muscle fibers and depleted glycogen stores form our muscles; if we not provide nutrients to repair and replace these our bodies will remain in this catabolic state.
Individual wants and needs as well as training will dictate what exactly one should consume; however most people should consume a 1:2 protein to carbohydrate ratio recovery shake composed of whey protein and a simple sugar (dextrose and/or maltose) in order to facilitate the recovery process as soon as possible.
Analogy: Consider your body to be a bridge and the workout that you impose on it to be a hurricane. During each workout your body is destroyed; thus the hurricane destroys the bridge. You are forced to rebuild this bridge, you can rebuild it with the parts from the old bridge that are laying around from the hurricane or you can bring in newer and stronger building material to withstand future hurricanes which will undoubtedly be stronger than the previous one.
Post Workout Meal (60-90 minutes after the workout) – Assuming that a post workout shake was consumed, it would be beneficial to consume a meal within 90 minutes to continue the recovery process. Due to the nature of the post workout shake that is composed of whey protein and simple sugars, it will be mostly digested within 90 minutes; if another meal is not consumed our body will become catabolic. In most cases this meal should be comprised of a lean natural meat source and a complex carbohydrate; the carbohydrate should be complex to allow for the continuation of glycogen replenishment.
Bedtime Meal: This meal is critical for muscle production and fat loss. Anabolic hormones such as growth hormone and testosterone are at their daily peak repairing the damage caused during the day, these hormones must have the appropriate building blocks to repair damaged muscles. More importantly it allows your metabolism to continue well into the night in order to minimize the amount of time that your metabolism has stopped. Protein must be consumed to provide amino acids for muscle repair, fats facilitate hormone production and having only a small amoutn of carbohydrates will keep your body from storing fat and help you to get to sleep.
Analogy: Your body is like a busy road that gets damaged throughout the day and requires repair, however due to the amount of traffic, these repairs must be performed at night. A night crew specialization will come in each night in order to repair the damage; however they must be provided with the appropriate materials to do their job.
Breakfast: When you eat breakfast you are doing exactly that – you are breaking your fast. This meal jump starts the metabolism for the day and sets the tone for the rest of the day. What we consume dictates the tone that we set; if you happen to have a high amount of carbohydrates for breakfast you are more likely to have more carbohydrates throughout the day. Most people should not have excessive amounts of carbohydrates in the morning; protein and fats should make up the bulk of this meal. The reason for this is that carbohydrates elevate insulin levels which are low in the morning due to our cortisol peak that wakes us up in the morning. This in turn causes a constant see-saw between cortisol and insulin response all day long causing fat storage around in the mid-abdominal area.
Test: Consume a breakfast that is very high in carbohydrates (pancakes with syrup) with no coffee or any other type of stimulus. Rate your energy between 1 and 10 upon waking before breakfast then rate your energy level an hour after consuming this high carbohydrate meal. If the energy level is low post breakfast then you are one of the many are unable to process a high amount of carbohydrates without secreting high levels of insulin. This secretion of insulin causes a decrease in cortisol which will suppress your energy levels.
Metabolism – The human body will do anything it has to in order to survive; if it goes
more that 4-5 hours without food it kick into survival mode and begin to spare carbohydrates and retain the next food you do consume as energy for later which is stored in the form of fat.
Analogy: If you didn’t know when you were getting your next pay check you would hold on to all the money you have but if you know that you are receiving a pay check every couple of weeks, you are able to spend money.
Meal Frequency – Eating some quality nutrients every 3-4 hours will allow your metabolism to run at a high level all day which is necessary to muscle production and fat loss.
Analogy – Think of your metabolism as a bond fire that you want to burn all day; in order to get a bond fire going first thing in the morning you need a lot of quality wood that will burn for a long period of time (preferably protein and fats). Once this fire is started you must provide it with materials to keep it going which must be done every 3-4 hours, you cannot do this with kindling or newspaper (chocolate bars & pop) but rather long burning materials (complex carbs, fiber, protein and fats).