To understand more about the nutrient timing system, I strongly recommend that you start by reading “What to eat before, during and after training”.
If you have ever had a hard training session which left you devastated the next day, as if a truck would have run you over during the night, or if you have been training for months and feel like you have hit a plateau in regard of your performance, or even if you are achieving your performance goals but you see little of no chance in your physical appearance and can’t seem to get rid of the belly flap then, dear reader, this post is for you. Take note.
Why is this important:
I will explain three main points:
Before, during and after every training session, the timing of the nutrients is of vital importance, sometimes even more important than the nutrients themselves. Next, I will address to each one of these periods, teaching you the reasons why this is so important
What to eat Before Training:
Before every training session, we need to ensure that both our glucose reserves (muscle glycogen) and the amount of glucose in our bloodstream are on optimal quantities. Likewise, it is ideal to start working out with a full amino acid pool and some slow absorption calories in the stomach (polyunsaturated fat).
- Carbohydrates: Both glucose on the bloodstream and glycogen in the muscle are the first line of defense against physical wear induced by training and physical activity. Also, having and maintaining a high level of glucose in the bloodstream ensures that the hormone cortisol is not overproduced. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, which uses muscle an energy substrate.
- Amino acids: ‘Aminos’ are the second line of defense and, when we use them as an energy source, we start to diminish the muscles capability to create new muscle tissue after workout, therefore the amino acid pool should always be full before every training session.
- Fat: Normally, in a moderate/intense training session +500kcal are burned and fat sources help to reduce the caloric deficit that this would mean in our metabolism. They ensure that we are not training in an energy deficient state.
This means that before every training session we need to consume a source of carbohydrates, amino acids and a small amount of polyunsaturated fat.
What to eat During Training:
During every training session we use calories, and if ran out of calories to use, our performance starts to decrease, which in turn makes that session inefficient. To avoid this, we need to ensure covering most part of the total caloric expenditure mainly with carbohydrates and amino acids. If we manage to supply an steady amount of calories from carbohydrates and a small dose of amino acids during each session, we support the produccion of the insulin hormone, which in contrast to cortisol, is an anabolic hormone meaning that it uses fat as an energy source and preserves muscle tissue and helps to use energy in the most efficient way possible. Also, it delays the exhaustion and fatigue indicators from appearing, both metabolic and mental. Amino acids are used to avoid the usage of the amino acids pool as an energy source; the most important ones for this are arginine, glutamine and leucine.
What to eat After Training:
The next 45 minutes after every workout are crucial. If we make things right, we can synthetize more than 25 percent protein (this means 25% more muscle created) and even double the amino acids absorption ratio. The main goals in this stage are:
- Switching the catabolic state of the metabolism into an anabolic one
- Accelerating the process of eliminating the toxic waste produced by training from the body
- Refill the muscle glycogen reserves as fast as possible
- Start the repair and growth process of the muscle fibers stimulated during workout
- Reducing the muscle tissue damage and boosting the immune system
So, how do we achieve this?
Before training we should always have a carbohydrate-rich snack, around 30 – 40 minutes before every workout. This snack should be a combination of simple and complex carbohydrates, as well as a source of vegetable fat. Also, antioxidants and amino acids are suggested. During training a carbohydrate supplement such as any commercial rehydrating beverage or maltodextrin combined with amino acids are needed. After workout, a good source of complex carbohydrates and high biological value protein must be consumed, in that order. To put it in scientific terms, 13 – 15 gr of protein, 40 – 50 gr of carbohydrates, 2 – 4gr of leucine + glutamine + Vit C and E. You can also see some practical examples here (What to eat before, during and after training).
Now that you know the science behind the nutrients needed and the nutrient timing before, during and after every training session, invest in yourself to be the best in what you love.