When it comes to optimizing body composition, One of the key areas that men struggle with is prioritizing their performance. In most cases, the main goal is to get as slim as possible while improving muscle definition.
However, what usually happens is rapid weight loss in the first few weeks, which is generally due to a reduction in carbohydrate intake. Once you think you've stopped progressing, one of two things can happen:
- Another calorie reduction through less carbohydrate consumption.
- A further increase in energy delivery through cardiovascular activities, some form of HIIT, or an increase in strength training days.
This is the downfall for most guys. It is what affects their ability to exercise. Its recoverability exceeds the amount of stress required for stimulation. They simply cannot recover from their work.
When I deal with such people, they eat fairly balanced meals during the day, but the biggest problem I see is that there is no structured food intake around the most important part of their day when they have to do their training.
It's like doing foot exercises in nothing but school uniform and chunky black school shoes until Tuesday evening. Sure, you're wearing clothes and shoes and you're training, but will you be able to perform well without your training equipment? Take it from a retired international and professional rugby player; It is a struggle.
Now your strength training (RT) is there to trigger a reaction in the body, a reaction that signals anabolic reactions with a primary focus on muscle protein synthesis (MPS), provided that enough effort and demands are placed on the muscles during the training. MPS is a process that repairs muscle damage caused by intense exercise and activity. It repairs and strengthens the muscle fibers.
While nutrient-driven stimulation from MPS can be observed, it cannot be compared to prolonged stimulation through weight training. MPS can even be extended beyond 24 hours after a single workout. 1
Right, so RT => more time for MPS switched on = more time for an increased recovery, repair and growth state.
We want to optimize the rest of our food intake so that we can::
- Maximize the time you spend in a recovery and repair state.
- Improve our performance and the quality of work in our training (at least keep it up).
When we talk about organizing a peri-workout diet strategy, we are referring to your food intake before, within, and after exercise.
In this way, your body can develop and overcome any obstacles that stand in your way while you effortlessly lose body fat.
How can we basically organize these specific periods to better support our performance and goal by timing the nutrients?
So let's see what the evidence suggests by dividing things up into individual meal and macronutrient requirements. Let's start with the pre-workout.
The role of nutrition before training
Pre-workout means the consumption of nutrients within a 3 hour radius of your planned training time. This feeding time should help to supply the body with the fuel it needs for training.
Consuming protein before your scheduled workout is incredibly important to make sure you have enough amino acids in your blood, especially if you haven't consumed protein or missed a meal that day.
Now I have to remind you that the most important factor in protein consumption is your daily intake. It doesn't make sense to be obsessed with nutrient timing if you don't have the basics of the nutritional basis.
When it comes to body development and nutrition, we want to make sure that we maximize our MPS.
Maximizing the anabolic effect of protein dosing per meal includes a goal of 0.4 to 0.55 g / kg 2,3 The total daily protein to achieve this goal is 1.6 to 2.2 g / kg (0.7 to 1.0 g / lb) .2, 3
Everyone benefits from pre-workout protein. Regardless of whether your goal is body-oriented or not, protein plays an important role in all areas of life. Do not be stupid. Eat your protein.
The role of carbohydrates before training
The pre-workout meal is about providing the fuel you need for the workout. It is worth noting that there are numerous clues that demonstrate a similar fat loss between high-carb and low-carb diets when calories and protein match
Since most men tend to drastically reduce their carbohydrate intake, this only shows that fat loss occurs as long as you are in an energy deficit.
However, by prioritizing the timing of our high-energy carbohydrates, we can do what we are asked to do: perform. This also helps maintain muscle mass and creates higher energy consumption.
Now when we look at carbohydrates and performance, your body stores carbohydrates in your muscles. This stored glycogen is the main fuel source for high-intensity exercises.5 Consuming carbohydrates before exercise also supports better muscle contractions due to higher blood glucose levels.
However, the further you move on your path to fat loss, the more important it becomesThis could be the difference in your ability to work at a high enough intensity that you may be required to do. It is also critical for great workouts and bigger pumps. Let's be honest; Nobody will say no if they get a nice pump.
Since we know that it is not necessary to remove the carbohydrates from our diet and you are doing weight training, it makes sense to consume carbohydrates, especially if you want to get the best possible fat loss result.
Let me repeat again that you consume carbohydrates before training:
- Helps with performance and recovery – Most people may think that you only need carbohydrates for long-lasting exercises (two hours or more), even if you benefit from intensive training in the short term (60 minutes or longer). So if you plan to exercise at high intensity, you should eat these carbohydrates.
- Maintaining muscle and liver glycogen – carbohydrates are a protein-saving nutrient. So if no carbohydrates are available, your body won't use its muscle tissue for energy without them. This is why it is so important that carbohydrates are consumed as part of your food intake, especially if you want to maintain or build muscle.
- Stimulates the release of insulin – The combination of protein with carbohydrates can improve our protein synthesis response and prevent protein breakdown.
The role of fats before training
Fats before training are not necessary, nor do you need to remove them completely. Despite what you may hear, fats aren't the best option when it comes to performance. Performance enhancement is literally what carbohydrates do.
Fats simply don't have a significant impact on your performance, but they can provide your body with vitamins and minerals while slowing down food digestion. This, in turn, can help maintain blood sugar and insulin levels.
Adding fats to your meal before exercise is a wise decision, especially if your meal is closer to the three-hour mark before you exercise. Fats are more critical in the daily intake spectrum, but as I said, you don't have to leave them out entirely when considering your meals before and after your workout.
Guidelines for structuring your diet before training
- Try to eat a whole meal with a full protein, high-energy carbohydrate and, if you exercise 2-3 hours later, a portion of fat – especially if you have low blood sugar levels during an intense workout.
- If time is an issue, use a fast-acting whey protein in combination with an easily digestible carbohydrate source so you can make sure there's something in the tank.
- For most men, between 25 and 40 g of protein, 30 to 60 g of carbohydrates and 10 to 15 g of fat are sufficient.
Example of dining options:
- Chicken breast, white potatoes, 1 serving of water-based vegetables, avocado.
- Chocolate whey protein isolate, oats, banana, nut butter with a pinch of cinnamon.
The role of intra-workout nutrition
Definition within the training: The consumption of nutrients during your training session.
Using a protein and carbohydrate supplement while exercising can provide additional energy while supporting fatigue and helping your body continue to use carbohydrates as fuel.
Don't be too excited yet. What matters in the end is the duration, volume and intensity of your training sessions.
If you do not exercise at high intensity and volume for more than 60 minutes, you do not need additional carbohydrates during the exercise.
Instead, we can store our carbohydrates for post-workout training, where they can help regenerate and weaken the post-session cortisol response. A simple mix of essential amino acid (EAA) and electrolyte is fine.
However, once you've shaped this lean and muscular body, you want to add a quality muscle to your bodyTherefore, I will give you an overview of how we can use our intra-workout diet to build muscle.
If muscle growth is a priority during training, the combination of EAAs + highly branched cyclic dextrin (HBCD) is a strong addition to your intra-training.
If essential amino acids are very digestible, add a little HBCD and you will notice an improvement in the absorption of amino acids into your skeletal muscle. 6
This triggers muscle protein synthesis and promotes growth. There are now studies showing an increase in muscle cross-sectional tissue in trainees who supplement this combination.
The effects of EAAs + HBCD are most efficient during training if your blood pumps thanks to your training.
Keep in mind that carbohydrates may not always be required during exercise. If you plan to exercise at high intensity and volume for more than an hour, it may be a good idea to use intra-workout carbohydrates.
Guidelines for structuring your intra-workout diet
- For sessions of less than 60 minutes: 1-2 servings of EAA + electrolyte mixture (usually 10-20 g).
- For sessions that last longer than 60 minutes: 1-2 servings of EAA + electrolyte mixture, one serving of HBCD (usually 20-30 g).
- For those looking for muscle growth: 1 serving of EAA + electrolyte mixture, two servings of HBCD.
The role of nutrition after exercise
The consumption of nutrients after completing your training session fulfills the role of post-training nutrition. This meal should be taken within 1-3 hours after training.
The focus of the post-workout meal is on reducing the cortisol (stress) response through weight training, starting the recovery and repair process, while avoiding spending time in a catabolic state.
After exercise, the body's insulin sensitivity is high, meaning that it is ready to use the carbohydrates in this meal by replenishing the glycogen level without shifting much of that energy into a fat cell. Another reason why this is such a strong time – wait, so can I expect to build muscle quickly in this window?
No, not necessarily, because your body is less likely to split the calories consumed as fat than muscle.
The role of the post workout protein
Keep in mind that training increases both protein synthesis and protein breakdown. Consuming protein in this window can further promote the positive nitrogen balance required for recovery, repair, and growth.
Since most men tend not to meet their daily protein needs, a useful strategy is to consume a post-workout shake within 30 minutes of your workout so that you have time to relax before you go within 1-2 hours eat a whole meal.
The same protein guidelines from our pre-workout should be followed. However, you can only take in 20-40 g of high quality protein in the form of a whey protein isolate after training. This can be repeated every 3-5 hours in order to maximally maintain protein synthesis7.
Make sure you consume a complete source of protein, such as lean red or white meat, fish, eggs, or a combination of these, in your whole meal.
The role of carbohydrates after exercise
This meal should contain the highest amount of carbohydrates in one of your meals during the day. We've already noticed that your body's insulin sensitivity and nutrient distribution is high, but that doesn't mean you can just eat everything in the kitchen.
Something I always like to remind my customers of is that you deserve your carbohydrates. So make sure you've put effort into your workout so you can really enjoy the benefits of this high-carb meal.
Our post-workout carbohydrates also help increase intramuscular glycogen storage, which is known to reduce recovery times
It is also worth noting that post-workout carbohydrates may result in an increased response to muscle protein synthesis through insulin-mediated activation of the Akt / mTORC1 pathway and a reduction in cortisol and muscle protein breakdown. 9
The number of carbohydrates in this meal can vary depending on personal preference and the amount you need to play with every day.
Since 3 g / kg body weight is a good starting point for your daily intake, I like to take pictures of 50% of my daily intake with my meal after training. 10
For example, an 80 kg man would aim for 240 g of carbohydrates for daily intake, which would mean adding 120 g of carbohydrates to the post-workout meal. Add the rest of the 120 g of carbohydrates to the other meals throughout the day.
The role of fats after exercise
Since we know that fats are not necessary in our pre-workout, it should come as no surprise that they are also not necessary for our post-workout meal.
Because our body development is a priority, it may be advisable to limit the dietary fat in your post-workout meal. Based on current knowledge, I would recommend limiting the fat content in the diet to 10 g or less. 11
In addition, it should be mentioned that the results also indicate that a high-fat diet after training can impair the regulation of the restructuring of the skeletal muscles and suppress anabolic activity
Guidelines for structuring your post-workout diet
- If you're struggling to meet your daily protein needs, consume a post-workout WPI shake that contains 20-40 g of protein.
- Consume your post-workout meal within 1 to 3 hours of your workout with a competing protein source that meets our initial protein guidelines per meal of 0.4-0.55 g / kg body weight, combined with 50% of your total daily carb intake.
- Limit your fat intake to 10 g or less.
Example of dining options::
- Red meat, jasmine rice and peppers.
- Turkey breast, pasta and spinach.
Some additional recommendations
Simplify your protein intake by distributing it evenly throughout the day. Try to meet the minimum requirements for your meal before training. Remember that food digestion takes hours. So listen to how your body feels with the size of the meals you eat before training.
I know my personal preference is a medium-sized meal because I don't like to feel too full before training, but I also don't like to feel too hungry.
Fats slow down the digestive process, So keep this in mind since you don't want to attack the barbell if you feel excessively full. The further you are from your workout, the more acceptable the fats in this meal are.
Choose fast, easily digestible carbohydrates like rice, rice cream, oats and potatoes that you can use in your meals before and after your workout.
There is an inverse relationship between carbohydrate and fat based meals. If you eat a high-carb meal, the fat content should be low. When eating a low-carb meal, the fat content should be higher.
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