When Should You Do Your Cardio To Get The Most Fat Loss?

For those that know me, you know all too well how I feel about cardio as a form of training for fat loss.

In fact, I’ve had many people that have prepped for competitions (myself included) that have done zero cardio during the entire prep process. Let’s face it, you don’t have all the time in the day to dedicate to training, so the precious time you do have should be allocated to the most productive means necessary.

When it comes to body composition changes, cardio should be looked at as the icing on the cake, not the cake in itself. Layne Norton has summed up this approach probably the best with the following

“If you’re a bodybuilder and you’re spending more time doing cardio than you do lifting weights, something is wrong”

You don’t have to be a bodybuilder in the competition sense for this to apply to. If your goal is to increase some lean mass and drop body fat, then the same rules apply to you.

With that said, cardio can definitely add extra fire to your fat burning goals if you want to add it in there. But I still see people who miss out on some basic application of cardio principles.

So, if you absolutely must add cardio in to your training mix, one of the most common questions usually comes around to When Is the Best Time To Do My Cardio For Fat Loss?

“Should I do my cardio on an empty stomach first thing in the morning?”

“Should I do my cardio before training?” “After training?”

Here are some simple cardio truths for you:

  1. There is NO EVIDENCE that doing cardio BEFORE weight training causes more fat loss. In fact there is evidence that “performing cardio before weight training actually inhibits resistance training adaptations” (Norton, 2018) This one has been around forever, and makes perfect logical sense when you think about it. Exercises that demand higher skill and higher strength output should ALWAYS be prioritised at the beginning of your session. Exercises and activities that require more endurance and are less demanding skill wise – i.e. repetitive cyclical movements like running, other cardio – should be put at the end of the workout. This ensures the more demanding exercises receive the full attention before your body gets fatigued.
  2. Ideally, you want to do your cardio on separate days to your weight training. If that is not possible, then try and schedule as much time between your cardio sessions than your weight sessions
  3. If all that fails – for reasons stated above – do your cardio AFTER your weights session. It won’t necessarily be better for your fat loss quest, but it won’t interfere with your weight training session as much.

Currently there’s no good evidence suggesting that fasted cardio in the morning is better for fat loss. The only rule you need to remember about cardio is this:

Just as long as you get it done the results are all comparable.

Don’t overthink when you should do it. Just do it.

The only thing you really need to worry about with regards to timing is making sure you do it at a time that will have the least impact on your resistance sessions.

Keto vs High Carb vs Even Macro Split – What is the TRUE energy intake of your favourite diets?

It’s been drummed so hard in to us over the years that fat loss always comes down to creating a negative energy balance. In plain terms, your energy in has to be less than your energy out.

As you will all know if you’ve read anything I have written in the past, this is not always as simple as just counting some calories. And there are MANY, MANY other factors that come in to play that govern whether you will store or lose fat.

One factor that has been discussed repeatedly when looking at energy equations is the Thermic Effect of Feeding, or TEF for short.

The Thermic Effect of Feeding basically means your body uses energy during the digestion process to extract energy from the foods you eat. Some of which is lost as heat. Different macronutrients operate at different efficiencies.

For example, if you eat 25g of Protein, this works out to be about 100 calories. BUT, protein only operates at about 70% efficiency, meaning 30% of those calories are LOST AS HEAT. So, the true calorie intake is actually 70 calories.

Compare this to Carbohydrate, which operates around 85% (average), and in the same 100 calories, you end up using 85 calories.

Fats operate at a much higher efficiency rate of 97%, which means that only 3% of the calories you eat are lost as energy. In the same 100 calories ingested in the examples above, this means you are actually using 97 of those 100 calories.

Thermic Effect of Feeding:

% Lost as Heat
Protein 30%
Carbs 15%
Fats 3%

 

True Energy Intake:

True Energy Intake from 100 Cals
Protein 70cals
Carbs 85cals
Fats 97cals

 

As you can see from this, NOT ALL CALORIES ARE CREATED EQUAL. And you can’t simply just count calories if you want to compare the effects of different diets.

If you want to maximise fat loss, one of the things you should be focusing on to help you create your negative energy balance is to MAXIMISE the THERMIC EFFECT OF FEEDING.

The problem is, you don’t eat just one of the macronutrients in a day, but a combination of all three.

The question then becomes, what is the best ratio of macronutrients to maximise this thermic effect?

Below we’ll compare 3 popular diet / macro ratio’s to see which is best for maximising the TEF.

For simplicity sake, we have chosen 1500 calories. The different % breakdown of 3 different popular macronutrient breakdowns are detailed below.

Three Diets with the SAME calories

Energy Intake Protein Carbs Fats
Even Macro 40% 30% 30%
1500 600 450 450
 
Keto 20% 10% 70%
1500 300 150 1050
 
High Carb : Low Fat 15% 60% 25%
1500 225 900 375

 

Now let’s compare what the TRUE energy intake for each of these 3 diet ratio’s are once they have been adjusted for the TEF.

TEF ADJUSTED DIETS (the more energy lost the BETTER)

Even Macro
1239 420 383 437 LOSS
Calorie Difference 261 17.4%
Keto
1356 210 128 1019 LOSS
Calorie Difference 144 9.6%
High Carb : Low Fat
1286 158 765 364 LOSS
Calorie Difference 214 14.3%

 

The TRUE Calorie Intake:

Even Macro’s: True Calories = 1239cals

Keto: True Calories = 1356cals

High Carb : Low Fat = 1286cals

From the above, you can see the TRUE energy intake from an Even Macronutrient Split is actually 1239 calories from the total of 1500 ingested. This is a LOSS of 17.4% as heat.

For the Traditional Keto diet, you only lose about half as much as heat at 9.6%. Your true energy intake out of your 1500 here is 1356.

For the High Carb : Low Fat diet, 14.3% is lost as heat, leaving you with 1286 calories out of your original 1500.

The KETO diet is actually the HIGHEST true energy intake out of all 3!

So what gives? How can keto in some instances help you to lose MORE fat than the high carb version (I’m not going to go in to detail on any keto debate here, but yes there is a lot of research showing this). The truth lies in the fact there are OTHER factors involved with fat loss than just the Thermic Effect of Feeding helping create a negative energy balance. Most of which I have written in detail about in the past.

What Does It All Mean?

When looking to create a negative energy balance, there are different ways you can improve on this EVEN WHEN THE CALORIE INTAKE IS THE SAME.

In the above example an EVEN MACRO SPLIT is actually the MOST EFFECTIVE in maximising the TEF and creating the OPTIMAL TRUE ENERGY INTAKE.

The best diet ratio that does this is an even macronutrient split consisting of

  • Maximising TEF
  • Maximising Fibre Intake
  • Optimising Hormonal Environment

If you want to maximise a negative energy balance AND create an optimal environment for fat loss, you need to maximise the TEF AND optimise the hormonal environment for this to operate in.

Obviously your total macronutrient intake and maintenance calorie intake for the day is an individualised calculation. But these are the principles you can use to optimise fat loss at any given calorie calculation.

For help in calculating the most effective fat loss macronutrient calculations for your own diet, contact The Courage Corner on info@thecouragecorner.com.au

The Long Lost Book of Nutrition Secrets – Regulation of Muscle Protein Synthesis

If you want the best results from your training, you obviously want to know what factors regulate the growth (or loss) of your hard earned gains.

The gain or loss of muscle is influenced by a number of factors. Ultimately they work to control what scientists call “Muscle Protein Synthesis”.

What causes Muscle Protein Synthesis to Increase?

What causes it to decrease?

Here is a summary of the most important information on Muscle Protein Synthesis summarised in to one table below:

Take Home Message?

Get sufficient Protein intake from quality protein sources spaced throughout the day.

Lift weights.

Adequate recovery.

Adequate energy intake

For all the science over the years and new methods, techniques, etc. It always comes back to some pretty basic principles. Eat, train, rest.

Science (*cough-internet-cough*) can seemingly overcomplicate things. But the principles will NEVER change.

2 Meals, 3 Meals, 5 Meals…Does It Even Matter?

Back in the “Bro Science” days of bodybuilding, it was normal practice to eat 5-6 meals a day and not go 2-3 hours without eating a meal. Then, in the last few years, all that changed, as new research came along apparently disproving this practice and everyone was quick to jump on the “it doesn’t matter when and how many meals, it all comes down to just the daily intake”.

So, what is the truth? Does it matter the number of meals you eat each day? Or is it just about how much you have, regardless of whether it 1,2 or 6 meals??

Original “Bro Science” Reasoning:

Anyone who has lifted, that was born before the year 1990, remembers that everyone aimed to eat every 3 hours in order to keep the metabolism firing and to stay “anabolic”. God help you if you missed a meal as you would literally see the muscle wasting away from your frame. Or so it felt…

Anything less than 5 meals a day and you were a bodybuilding noob with the metabolism of your 80 year old grandmother.

The New Research:

Once scientist finally got around to actually doing some research on this, it was quickly found that this wasn’t really the case. Truth is, it didn’t really matter if you had 2 meals, or 3 meals or 6, the actual effect on your metabolism was actually pretty similar across the board.

The regular community and those that lift without crippling OCD breathed a big sigh of relief as you didn’t now have to spend 17 hours in the kitchen each week meticulously prepping  and partitioning equally 30 meals to last you Mon-Fri.

It also gave rise to IF, IIFYM, or any other acronym people can add more letters to to reinvent the wheel and profit from.

BUTTTTTT…..

Is it all as open and shut as that?

Let’s take a look at what we know and put it in to some context.

There are two things we need to look at when trying to optimise body composition:

  1. What strips body fat
  2. What maximises muscle retention (increases muscle protein synthesis)

Obviously you want to create an environment conducive to getting leaner. i.e. relative energy deficit, maximising metabolism. But you also want to make sure you are not losing any of your hard earned gym gains.

So, just because your meal distribution may not necessarily affect your Metabolism. IT DOES play a role in maximising Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS). You know, the building / keeping your muscle part…

I’ve written extensively about Muscle Protein Synthesis and the factors that influence it (well, maybe like 2 facebook posts and an instagram story, but I digress). So, I won’t go on about it here. Needless to say that it requires a fast digesting protein source containing about 3g of Leucine amongst a few other things.

This influx of amino acids in to your system after a meal makes MPS peak about “45-90 minutes following a meal, and returns to baseline values by 180minutes”. (Wilson, et al, 2008-9). Translation: the most effective part of eating a meal with regards to building muscle peaks about 45-90minutes after you eat and then tapers off back to normal after about 3 hours.

The researchers found the “addition of a bolus of carbohydrates, leucine, or both, at 150minutes was able to both reinstate the ATP status of the cell as well as prolong protein synthesis.”

Paddon-Jones and colleagues also found the addition of a “low calorie (220 calories) amino acid and carbohydrate supplement between meals drastically improved protein balance through a 24hour period.

So What Does It MEAN????

  • To maximise MPS you need to optimise protein distribution NOT just hit your daily macro target
  • You can do this by eating a high quality protein source every 3 hours or so
  • OR “alternate whole meals containing 25-35g of whole protein sources with snacks containing either BCAA’s, or a combination of carbohydrates and BCAA’s”
  • in other words 3 meals and 2 snacks

Potato. Potato. (that doesn’t really have the same effect when written). It all says the same thing. Eat some quality protein every 3 hours.

If you want to maximise MPS the Amount, Quality AND Distribution of your protein intake are ALL important factors.

Especially if you are trying to get leaner and on any sort of restriction.

YESSSSS. OLD SCHOOL BRO SCIENCE FOR THE WIN!!!!! Stick that one in your Kombucha damn new age insta hippies.

Are You Drinking Enough Each Day? Probably Not…

We all know how important staying hydrated is. Despite this, I would hazard a guess to say not nearly enough of you drink enough water each day.

Staying hydrated is not just good for overall health reasons, but for athletic performance as well.

How much water you need to drink is obviously going to differ depending on a number of factors. Sex, weight, weather, etc.

You’ve probably heard the general 8 glasses of water per day rule. But, this may be undershooting it for you.

A more accurate calculation is to times your body weight by 0.0.35. This is easy enough to do, grab the calculator on your phone, type your bodyweight x 0.035 and done.

So, if you weight 70kg, this would be about 2.5 litres you need to drink EACH day.

How Much Should You Drink During Your Workouts?

A body water reduction in excess of 2-3% is considered to adversely affect performance. So, if you weigh 70-80kg, this is only a drop of 1.5kg.

How do you know how much to drink during your workout? Here’s 3 easy steps.

  1. Weigh yourself before you start your workout
  2. Weight yourself at the end of the workout
  3. If you weigh less at the end of the workout, you have to drink that equivalent in water weight.

So, if by the end of the workout, you weigh 500g less than when you started, you have 500ml of water you have to make up for, as 1 litre of water is equal to 1kg.  Obviously you should be drinking and staying hydrated during your workout. This is just calculating if you’ve had enough during the workout and if you need to make up for anything at the end.

 

Protein Quality: Even more important as you get older

Two beautiful things happen to our bodies as we get older

  1. It’s harder to lose the fat

AND

  1. You lose muscle

Yep. Pretty much the exact opposite of what we are going for.

But all’s not lost!

With careful attention to what you eat – along with your exercise – you can help get the best of both worlds.

One of the most important macronutrients in maintaining your hard earned muscle and even stimulating MORE muscle growth is Protein.

Unfortunately though, it’s not as simple as just getting the right amount of protein each day. You also need to keep in mind the QUALITY as well.

When it comes to protein, quality is measured in two ways

  1. How much protein is present per 100g i.e. % of protein content
  2. How quickly the amino acids are absorbed in to your system and stimulate Muscle Protein Synthesis (it’s Leucine content)

Amino acids are the little building blocks that make up all of the proteins that our bodies use. And of the 20 or so amino acids that go to building all of these proteins, there are 8 of these amino acids that our bodies can only get from ingestion. These are called ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS. Essential meaning our bodies can not make them and we must get them from the foods we eat.

As it turns out, the very act of eating protein, actually stimulates your body to MAKE protein. That’s right, eating protein really does actually help you gain muscle. And, more importantly, at least hold on to it keep it while you are losing fat.

The main amino acids that are responsible to stimulating this Muscle Protein Synthesis are the ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS. More specifically, one called Leucine. Now, it’s not important you remember these names, just the effect that eating good quality protein has.

The best sources that get you ALL of your essential amino’s in one hit are termed COMPLETE proteins. Protein sources that lack one or more of the essentials are termed INCOMPLETE proteins.

To keep things a little simplified, the general rule of thumb is:

1) Animal proteins = complete proteins

2) Plant proteins = incomplete proteins

This kind of makes sense when you think about it. It you want flesh of your own, you literally have to eat the flesh of another animal to give you everything you need.

It turns out, some sources of animal protein are even better at doing this than others.

Whey protein, for example – you know that type of protein in all protein powder – is an excellent source of protein. Not only is it a COMPLETE protein, but it is also rich in ESSENTIAL AMINO acids. The main one being LEUCINE.

So, it has a high protein content. It is a complete protein. It is absorbed quickly in to the body and is a rich source of Leucine, meaning it will stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

There was even studies that compared feeding ESSENTIAL amino acids in a bolus dose vs NON ESSENTIAL amino acids only. The essential amino acid group stimulated muscle protein synthesis, the non essential group did not. So, make sure the quality of your protein sources tick the boxes above.

Other sources of animal proteins that fulfil this criteria are:

  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Different types of fish…

You know, the usual suspects.

As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want the fat content of your meat too high, as this actually lowers the protein quality slightly. The higher fat content means it is absorbed a little slower. This can sometimes be desirable, but again, we’re keeping it simple for now.

So, just as a recap, good sources of protein are:

  • Dairy (some better than others)
  • Eggs
  • Lean Meat
  • Whey protein

If you want the best quality protein, it is a good idea to get it from a variety of sources, as each of these also contain other benefits that are crucial for optimum health.  For example, you will get iron, zinc and creatine from beef. So, don’t think you can go and have protein shakes all day.

In your quest for fat loss, don’t forget you need to keep as much muscle as you can during the whole process. This comes from eating the right AMOUNT of protein each day, but, more importantly, the right QUALITY of protein.

Call it Yo Yo Dieting. Metabolic Damage. Set Point Theory. Call it what you want, you’re still going to get fatter.

I remember back in the 80’s, fad diets were all the rage.

In short, people would go on these crazy short term diets that would cut out groups of foods completely, dramatically drop down their overall food intake, and get awesome short terms results.

The problem was, as soon as these people came off their “diet” and returned to their normal eating habits and normal calorie intake, they would end up FATTER than before!

(Any of this sound familiar?? It should…)

The best way they used to combat this, was to go on another diet. Maybe even a different one this time. Maybe the grapefruit diet. Or the Garth Brooks Juice Diet (ok, maybe that one was from a movie, but you get the drift).

This gave rise to the term YO YO DIETING. Peoples weights would go up and down according to which fad diet they were on. But in the end, they would end up bigger than before. Even when they went back to the same calorie intake!

Again, if any of this is sounding familiar, that’s because it is. We have precisely gone no where over the past 30-40 years when it comes to mainstream consumption of dieting BS and our expectations of what a “diet” can achieve.

In the last couple of years, we gave it a different name. Metabolic Damage.

There’s even talk in the literature again on the Metabolic Set Point Theory. Almost as if these people have reinvented the wheel. When people were talking about this years and years ago.

Here’s the quick breakdown of the Metabolic Set Point Theory:

  • Your body has a natural “set point” or level that it likes to keep its weight at. This is determined by a number of factors including lifestyle, genetic, metabolic factors, etc.
  • Just like your body temperature, your body naturally regulates it’s weight fairly accurately over the long haul. You have in built mechanisms to match your energy intake and output to kind of maintain the status quo – or homeostasis – as scientists like to call it. So, just say your set point is at 2000calories. Your body likes to keep its input and output around that point, so it all evens out.
  • If you drop your energy intake too low for too long a period, your body will fight against it in order to try and keep things the same. To do this it will deliberately slow down your “metabolism” to accomodate this.

Congratulations, your new set point is now 1500calories

Guess what happens when you’ve finished your “diet” and return to your normal eating habits of the 2000 calories again? That’s right. You get fatter than before. Even if you just go back to what you were eating before you started your diet!

That’s Yo Yo Dieting in a nutshell. That’s Metabolic Damage in a nutshell. That’s learning nothing over the last 40 years of diet fads.

Again, it’s important to note your “Set Point” is influenced by many factors:

  • Genetics
  • Neurological Factors
  • Hormones
  • Calorie Intake
  • Body Composition
  • Gut Health – micro biome

And the list goes on…

You can’t just try and fix ONE thing and think you’ve fixed the whole problem. BUT, you can still influence the Set Point back to a positive way and not be stuck in the negative.

The Solution??

  • As tempting as it is to “get results quicker” you should never make big sudden drops to your energy intake.
  • Don’t ever “diet” for extended periods – comp dieters I’m mainly looking at you. NO, you can’t maintain comp conditioning all year round. NO, you shouldn’t compete back to back seasons for years consecutively. NO, not everyone was designed to step on the competitive stage and bean shredded AF.
  • Same for coming out the other end, it takes time for your body to adapt and recover. Give it time.

Regulation of your Set Point is a complex multifactorial issue, but ALL of which can be influenced by the big 4 pillars of fat loss:

  1. Diet
  2. Exercise
  3. Stress Management
  4. Sleep Quality

You don’t have to just drop calories to affect your set point. You don’t just have to then increase calories to affect your set point. Every girl seems to think they should be able to eat over 2000 calories per day. Every guy thinks they should be eating over 4000 calories per day. It’s just not as simple as that.

Forget the quick fixes. Forget the fad diets. Focus on meaningful long term change. And long term change only happens with the small things done consistently. You are the only yard stick you should ever measure anything against. No one else.

So each day, each little step, each little meal, each little training session. Over the long term, they will bring you the results you are after.

The Rapid Response program is built around these 4 pillars of fat loss. Looking at key indicators that are measurable and achievable. By maximising each of these factors and you can get fast results with positive changes, not just “quick fix” solution of just dropping down calories.

 

How to Choose the Best Quality Protein Sources

High quality protein. You all know you should be having it. But what exactly makes a protein high in quality?

When researchers talk about protein quality, they are essentially referring to the proteins ability to provide Essential Amino Acids to you. Amino acids are the building blocks that make up a protein. Your body uses about 20 different types of amino acids. Some of these amino acids can be manufactured by your body if needed, others can not. The only way you can get these other “essential” amino acids is through the foods you eat. There is no other way. It just so happens the Essential Amino Acids are the most important ones for your health and your body composition results.

The quality of a protein is therefore determined by its Essential Amino Acid content.

The best natural sources of protein that contain all of the Essential Amino Acids are termed “complete proteins” and – sorry vegans – complete proteins come from animal sources of protein. Think meat and dairy.

Quite simply, if you want muscle, you have to eat muscle!!

Funny how eating the flesh of another animal magically gives you everything you need to make flesh of your own. And I don’t care if it runs, flies or swims, nature made it really simple for you. Per 100g of raw weight meat, you are ALWAYS going to get about 20g of quality protein. So, if you’re goal is 40g of quality protein, that’s 200g meat. Easy done. I don’t care if it’s deep sea Perch or Bison roaming the Savannah’s of the America’s, it’s always going to be the same.

It’s simply not good enough to have a “daily total” protein target as muscle protein synthesis is actually determined on a “per meal” basis, not on a “I just hit my goal of protein for the day”. Have you heard about the Dose / Response effect of protein? This is essentially it. And it is definitely not the same as “complementing” your rice and beans together over the course of a day to try and get some balance (sorry again vegans).

Of the essential amino acids, Leucine (one of the Branched Chain Amino Acids) looks to be one of the most important and is required to optimise protein synthesis. At least about 2-3g has been found to maximally stimulate protein synthesis. You want to know why having a scoop of whey post workout is so important? It just so happens to give you the right amount of essential amino acids to optimise muscle protein synthesis.

At the end of the day, about 20-35g of high quality protein per meal is needed to optimise muscle protein synthesis, depending on the source used. As most of my clients know, I will rarely, if ever (EVER) go under this minimum amount for ANYBODY.

If you want a good quality protein source you MUST ensure it:

  • Contains Essential Amino Acids to optimise muscle protein synthesis – aiming for about 2-3g Leucine at least. Consume “complete” proteins as a priority
  • Consume 20-35g (as a minimum target) whole protein per meal to optimise Muscle Protein Synthesis
  • Need to consume it about every 3-4 hours – Muscle Protein Synthesis rates peak about 45-90min following a meal and return to baseline levels about 3 hours after the meal
  • Lean sources of protein are better than high fat choices as you maximise the digestion rate and protein density of the food. It’s been written a million times over, but think whey, eggs, milk, chicken, extra lean beef, etc.
  • Vegetarian sources of protein are inferior quality as they are usually lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids. No soy is not good enough!
  • It’s simply not good enough to just have 3g of Leucine and think you’ve done your job! If you want to maximise the duration of Muscle Protein Synthesis, you need a whole meal!

THIS IS NOT BRO SCIENCE!! THIS ACTUAL SCIENCE. FOUND IN NUMEROUS TEXT BOOKS AND EXTENSIVE RESEARCH ARTICLES THE WORLD OVER.

Don’t ever be one of those people who use arrogance as an excuse for their ignorance. (if you’ve read this far, you’re probably not one of those people anyway)

 

Nutrient Timing – The Future of Sports Nutrition

Nutrient Timing – The Future of Sports Nutrition

In this series of nutrition articles I will be covering such topics as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, supplements, etc.

Before I do, however, it is essential that you understand a few key concepts. The first one being that it’s not only what you eat, but WHEN YOU EAT IT that’s important.

High GI foods, low GI foods, fast acting proteins, slow acting proteins…one is not better than the other in a strict sense. But one definitely serves a better function dependent upon what phase you muscles are in at that specific time.

There are 3 important phases in nutrition, and your understanding of them is crucial if you’re seeking to gain lean hard muscle and / or strip some unwanted body fat.

The 3 phases of muscle growth:

  1. Energy Phase
  2. Anabolic Phase
  3. Recovery Phase

1) Energy Phase

This phase is the one that is active while you are working out. Just think about, during this phase you’re working hard, straining under a heavy load, digging deep to bust out those few extra reps or finish your sprints. What do you think your muscles are concerned with here? Recuperating?! No way! There focus at the moment is contracting, producing energy, force, etc in order to do your workout. The bottom line, during the energy phase of muscle growth, your priority is on providing the mechanical work for the workout. If you’re doing at least a half decent workout at a high enough intensity, this means that your muscles are dipping into your stored intra muscular glycogen stores and liver glycogen stores. That simply means that during high intensity workouts, your body supplies fuel predominantly in the form of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate that is stored in the muscles and liver. High intensity exercise also involves the breakdown and depletion of stored amino pools in the muscles (something we want to decrease if lean mass is our aim).

So what does this mean for you? In order to fuel your workouts and to prevent the catabolic (breakdown) nature of your workouts, your goal during this phase of muscle growth is to supply the right nutrients to blunt these effects.

What works? Sipping on a carb drink (such as gatorade) and be sure to mix in some Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) and Glutamine.

2) Anabolic Phase

So, you’ve just finished your gruelling workout. You pushed it hard, lifted heavy and have just depleted your muscles glycogen stores. Where to now? The Anabolic Phase is the most critical phase and this becomes the time for your most important meal of the whole day.

During this phase, think of your muscles as sponges. Sponges that are ready to soak up any bit of carbohydrate that you can get into your system fast enough.

You have a 30-45min window of opportunity to kickstart your muscle building effects into overdrive and stop your body from eating into itself. During this window, your muscles are highly sensitive to insulin and are calling out for fuel to replenish lost stores.

So what does this mean for you? Your amino pools and carb pools are depleted, your body’s priority is to replenish these. Yes, even if this means breaking down muscle in order to try and replenish lost carb stores.

What works? Immediately post workout get yourself a nice fast acting protein, for example whey protein in the form of a shake so that it is absorbed quickly. Within that 30-45min window, you’ll also need to get some high GI carbs. That’s right. Get some high GI carbs into your system to elevate insulin levels and take advantage of the fact that your muscles are highly insulin sensitive and your muscles are screaming for carbs.

If you miss out on this window, over the next few hours, your muscles actually become insulin resistant!! So make sure you get this meal in there.

3) Growth Phase

This is in between workouts. This is where your body is continuing to refuel and repair itself in readiness for the next workout.

What does this mean for you? During this phase you want a slow trickle of nutrients into your system to provide a nice steady and stable environment. A constant flow of nutrients keeps your body in a positive nitrogen balance crucial for muscle building. You need to keep supplying raw materials at a constant rate to optimise growth and recovery.

What works? Eat every 2-3 hours with a mixture of both slow acting proteins and carbohydrates. This is where low GI carbs are extremely important, but also slow absorbing proteins. A slow acting protein is one that takes a little longer to digest, a whey protein shake for example is absorbed quickly while a chicken breast takes a little longer to digest.

From the above, you can see that what you eat and at what time can be critical for your results from training. As we go over the macronutrients in the coming articles, keep in mind the critical aspect of timing in determining where they fit into the success of your personal nutrition plan.

If you have any questions regarding the content above or are interested in getting your diet plan looked at, The Courage Corner is also available for these services.