What does all these questions seem to have the central focal point? It’s TIME!!! We all know that our body needs nutrition to stay fueled, rest to recuperate, and training to build, but sometimes we are unsure of the “when” aspect for all this to happen. Decades of research have shown that we can’t do 2 of the 3 in order to optimize our physical full potential. The human body is a machine, but if not fueled and properly kept, it will fall apart and can easily make an anabolic system more catabolic.
In part one of this three part series, I’m going to mainly focus on the aspect of anabolic timing when comes to food. Most of you reading this article consume close to 5-7 meals per day (including shakes if you use those for replacing one or two solid meals), but one question to ask yourself is “Am I following a pattern that fits my schedule and workouts?”. For those of us who work during the day, you probably ingest about 3-4 meals before you even step foot into a gym. Also, based on the physical demand of the job dictates what food you might consume during that time.
One simple concept I have learned is that to optimize your body with creating an anabolic environment that is receptive of hypertrophy, you have to coordinate foods that facilitate this around your workout. Here is a good example. John trains at 5 pm everyday, and he usually trains for about 60-80 minutes. John ate his last meal around 3 pm and then doesn’t eat again till close to 7 pm after his workout. John consumes most of his meals with a 2-3 hour time frame. So is John’s body in a suitable environment for true muscle growth with this current regimen? NO. Unless John is incorporating simple sugars immediately after his workout, his body won’t even use the calories consumed till over 60-90 minutes after he eats at 7 pm, which also depends on his macro break down and how much fats he is consuming.
Let’s adjust John’s schedule to maximize his anabolic environment.
So, John eats his last meal at 3pm before training, but today we add some EAA formula (an infra workout) and about 20oz of apple juice that he can consume during his workout. Immediately following the workout, John will consume 50 grams of ISO whey with another 20oz apple juice and 1 tbsp honey. It takes John about 30 minutes to get home from the gym so he is going to chow down on 7oz of top sirloin steak with 400 grams of red potatoes when he gets home. In this scenario, John has consumed 180 grams of carbohydrates, 90 grams of protein, and about 28-30 grams of fat within a 2 hour window from when his workout started and his meal at home ended. The steak and potato will be slower at digesting, but he created an environment more anabolic and more ready to use the incoming simple sugars based on his timing in the second scenario. Also, his body will more than likely use most of what he is consuming versus allowing the metabolism to drop and go directly into preservation mode since it was pretty much fasted in the first scenario.
A concept that I have learned (and still incorporate) is that the body can handle 25-30% of the daily calories (mostly carbohydrates) in that 2 hour anabolic window during and post-training. The muscles are being worked and over exerted to the point that glycogen is leaving and more depleted in the myoglobin. This will also help his body recover faster and even keep his blood sugar levels within a normal range. I do advise though if you are a diabetic, you would need to follow a different approach with less simple sugars and even more fats to still create this anabolic like environment. In my next article, I will cover sleep patterns and when not to take small naps that will effect circadian rhythm of the body. We will define the natural balance between optimizing growth hormone levels and keeping cortisol levels in check!!
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