Its All About The Timing

MWhen planning your nutritional program, there are three critical questions you need to ask:

1. How much should I eat?

2. When should I eat all this food?

3. What should I eat at those times?

Answer these three questions effectively, and your days as a body double for Pee-Wee Herman are over. In Chapter 13, we covered how much you should be eating, providing you with activity-based calculations and making specific recommendations for adjusting these in an outcome-based manner, the outcome being your rate of physical change. However, we determined only how much you need to eat. In this chapter, we'll discuss nutrient timing including when you should eat all this food and what you should eat at these specific times.

When talking shop with conventional nutritionists, discussions about eating for body composition management, muscle building, and athletic performance usually center on how much to eat. However, despite the importance of eating more energy than you expend in gaining weight, this conventional thermodynamic approach to weight change tells just a portion of the story. After all, very few people would benefit from focusing exclusively on weight gain or weight loss. Rather, the focus should be on the composition of the gain or loss.

A focus on only weight gain or loss exclusively can lead to an overall disappointment in your nutrition plan. Although this might be a bit of an oversimplification of a very complex topic, in some ways the thermodynamic approach of measuring calories in versus calories out may simply maintain the body shape status quo (if there is such a thing). For example, if you're blessed with the right genetics, the calorie in versus calorie out thermodynamic approach to weight gain (or loss) will probably be all you need to look good sans clothes at any body size (bigger or smaller). In essence, you'll gain muscle at a faster rate than fat when trying to "bulk up," or you'll lose fat at a faster rate than muscle when trying to "lean out."

But what if you're not among the genetic elite? Well, simply eating more than you expend or eating less than you expend can just lead to equal gains or losses in fat and muscle, making you just a bigger or smaller version of your former self. So if you fall into this latter category and are also unhappy with that shape, you'll probably be unhappy if you try to change your energy balance alone.

And that's just body composition change. The traditional thermodynamic approach really doesn't address health in any significant way, either. The thermodynamic approach states that "a calorie is a calorie," and if you simply eat less than you expend (whatever you're eating), you'll lose weight. And if you eat more than you expend (whatever you're eating), you'll gain weight. Unfortunately, this approach doesn't differentiate between cottage cheese and Cheez Whiz, fat-free milk and Milk Duds, apples and apple pie.

To address some of the limitations of the thermodynamic or "calorie balance" approach presented above, scientists have begun to study the effects of different foods on body composition. Now we're not talking about the grapefruit diet here! Instead, we're talking about eating similar amounts of carbohydrate, just switching from a high-sugar diet to a diet low in sugar yet full of fruits and vegetables as well as low-glycemic-index grains. Other manipulations include replacing some saturated fat with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil or polyunsaturated fats such as fish oil. Through this research, scientists have found that once energy balance is accounted for, and you're eating more than you're expending when trying to gain weight, or eating less than you're expending when trying to lose weight, the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats you choose can either help or hinder your composition changes. In essence, some carbohydrates are better than others because they better control the entry of sugar into your blood, moderating your insulin levels and leading to less fat gain. Some proteins are better than others because different proteins have different rates of entry into the bloodstream, and these properties, if utilized at the right times of the day, can improve your quest for new brawn. And some fats are better than others because certain fats can actually speed up your metabolism, increase testosterone production, and increase the amount of fat you burn. Therefore, by choosing your food wisely and eating the right foods at the right times, even if you're eating the same number of calories each day, you can effectively alter the composition of your weight gain and weight loss, and you'll reap the health benefits of a better diet composition.

As you can see, the science of what to eat has added to the how much to eat picture and advanced our understanding of body composition manipulation and achieving optimal health. In recognizing the laws of thermodynamics and eating accordingly, we can set the stage for weight loss or weight gain. And by choosing our foods wisely, we wield the power to take control of what types of gains and losses we'll see. In some respects, the science of what to eat has given us the power to transcend some of our genetic "inclinations" (i.e., overall body shape and genetic health risks).

We've discussed the how much to eat and what to eat perspectives. Yet there's one newly emerging area of research that can further assist in taking control of your body composition, including your weight gain and weight loss efforts. The science of when to eat is called "nutrient timing" and is becoming an important part of effective nutritional planning.

So what's so special about when you eat? Well, there are two main principles driving the importance of nutrient timing.

1. Once you determine how much to eat, you'll need to split those meals up so that you're eating frequently, and you're eating for the activities you've just completed as well as the activities you're about to undertake. In doing this, you can dramatically improve your body composition without even changing your dietary composition or daily energy balance.

2. If you build upon the first principle by actually increasing your overall energy intake and choosing the right foods at the right times of the day, your success will be unparalleled.

Research by Dan Benardot, Ph.D., R.D., at Georgia State University, has suggested that frequent eating as well as eating for the specific activities you'll be participating in or already have participated in offers the following benefits:

11 Improved glucose tolerance

11 Decreased insulin response to meals

11 Decreased blood Cortisol concentrations

11 Decreased serum lipids

11 Decreased adipose tissue (the fancy word for fat)

11 Maintenance of metabolic rate

In other words, the first principle of nutrient timing offers a number of health and body composition benefits. So, once you know how much to eat, you can begin designing your nutritional program by arranging frequent feedings with the largest meals coming during the most active parts of your day such as before/during/and after your workout and/or during your workday if you've got an active job.

This type of focus on eating when active provides another benefit: It prevents binge eating behaviors. Binge eating usually comes after maintaining a low blood sugar for an extended period of time. Your brain gets so fed up with your lack of eating (or eating too much sugar) and forces you to binge. And when do most binges occur? At night, right? So by keeping the body well fed and the brain happy during the active parts of your day, you'll be much less likely to binge on crappy food choices at night.

With respect to the second principle of nutrient timing, it's important to realize that certain foods are good during certain times of the day, yet not so good during others. Sure, if your diet's pretty poor, and like many North Americans, you're eating too much sugar, too little fiber, and too much saturated fat relative to the other fats in your diet, a simple shift in what you eat will go a long way toward helping you manage your body composition and your health. But if you're really interested in packing on the muscle mass, it's important to understand that although sugar shouldn't make up the bulk of your dietary intake, there is a time and a place for it.

For example, simple carbohydrates like sugar are great during the postworkout recovery period but not so great outside this critical recovery period (see Chapter 13). Likewise, high-fiber foods are great during most meals of the day but are suboptimal during the immediate postexercise period. When speaking of protein, fast-digesting protein such as whey is great during the immediate postworkout period, but whey is not so great during the rest of the day. It's important to understand that, often, a natural food's value is based on when you eat it, not just its composition alone. Sure, there are lots of artificial foods that are completely bad for you (if a food's ingredients list contains the words hydrogenated or

partially hydrogenated, or contains a bunch of big words you can't pronounce, it's likely the food contains a lot of artificial ingredients and should stay on the grocery store shelves), but a natural food's value can be based on when you eat it. Although this idea may be new to you, in the next few sections, we'll discuss why some foods are better than others at specific times of the day. By the end of this chapter, you should have a pretty firm grasp of which foods fit in where.

To understand why nutrient timing is so important to the athlete, it's important to understand these points:

1. Much of the current science is pointing to the fact that if you train regularly, during specific times of the day, the body is primed for fat gain or fat loss just as it's primed for muscle gain or muscle loss during other times of the day. Add in the wrong foods at the wrong times, and you're sabotaging your efforts in the gym. Add the right foods, and your efforts are given a giant boost.

2. Although some foods are not optimal during certain times of the day (i.e., sugar), some of these same foods can actually be very beneficial during other times of the day (such as the post-workout period).

In order to easily teach you the basics of which foods should be incorporated and when without writing an entire dissertation, we're going to break your training day down into four phases and teach you what you should be eating during each phase. The four phases are as follows:

Phase I: The Energy Phase

Phase II: The Anabolic Phase

Phase III: The Growth Phase

Phase IV: The Recovery Phase

Phase I is called the Energy Phase because this phase occurs during the workout when energy demands are highest. You see, the metabolic rate during intense weight training can be six to eight times higher than the metabolic rate at rest (there are those METs again). The breakdown products from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats provide the energy needed to sustain this increase in metabolic rate. These carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can come from either ingested food (food eaten immediately prior to exercise or during exercise) or from body stores of carbohydrate (muscle and liver glycogen), protein (muscle mass or the free amino acid pool), or fat (adipose tissue or intramuscular triglycerides). If you end up burning body stores, no surprise, you get smaller. Since that's the opposite of what we're trying to do, it's important to ingest the appropriate nutrients during training. If done properly, you'll definitely get bigger as long as your nutrition is adequate during the remainder of the day.

Based on new scientific research, targeted nutritional intake during Phase I can actually promote a series of positive benefits independent of the energy provision alone. Good nutrition during the Energy Phase can provide these benefits:

11 Increase bloodflow to the working muscles

11 Increase nutrient delivery to the working muscles

11 Reduce muscle glycogen depletion

11 Reduce the amount of muscle protein breakdown

11 Decrease blood concentrations of the catabolic hormone Cortisol (and this is good because Cortisol can break down muscles)

11 Improve immune function

11 Shift the anabolic (muscle building)/catabolic (muscle breakdown) balance during exercise toward muscle building rather than breakdown (since breakdown/catabolism is usually predominant during most training sessions).

During the Energy Phase, we recommend drinking a liquid protein/carbohydrate supplement just prior to your workout (about 10 to 15 minutes before). In addition, you should be sipping another one during the workout. Since these supplements are in liquid form, if sipped throughout the workout, dehydration, a potent performance killer in both strength and endurance athletes, can be prevented as well. But just any old liquid protein/carbohydrate drinks won't do. Since the body needs those nutrients quickly, you've gotta pick rapidly digesting proteins and carbohydrates. Even a standard meal replacement powder drink can take up to an hour or more to be fully digested. Therefore, a drink containing simple sugar (sugar is quickly digested) and fast-digesting protein like whey protein is optimal.

The next nutrient timing phase we'd like to address is the Anabolic Phase. The Anabolic Phase occurs immediately after the workout and lasts about an hour or two. This phase is titled "anabolic" because it's during this time that the muscle cells are primed for muscle building (anabolism means "building," and in the case of muscle physiology, references to anabolic states or anabolism mean muscle building). Interestingly, though, although the cells are primed for muscle building after the workout (during the Anabolic Phase), in the absence of a good nutritional strategy, this phase can remain very catabolic (catabolism means "breakdown, and in the case of muscle physiology, references to catabolic states or catabolism mean muscle breakdown). So this phase becomes anabolic only when you make the right nutritional choices.

As mentioned, without adequate nutrition, the period immediately after strength and endurance training is marked by a net muscle catabolism; in other words, muscles continue to break down after exercise. Now, if you're asking yourself how this can be, you're asking the right question. After all, training (especially weight training) makes you bigger, not smaller. And even if you're an endurance athlete, your muscles don't exactly break down either. So how can exercise be so catabolic?

Well, for starters, while the few hours after exercise induce a net catabolic state (although protein synthesis does increase after exercise, so does breakdown), it's later in the recovery cycle that the body begins to shift toward anabolism. So we typically break down for some time after the workout and then start to build back up later (whether that "buildup" is in muscle size or in muscle quality). However, with this said, the use of liquid protein/ carbohydrate supplements after training can actually help you improve your recovery and lead to a net increase in muscle size or quality during and immediately after exercise. So, with the right nutritional intake during the Anabolic Phase, you don't have to wait until the next day to start growing. You'll start growing right away.

To get the most out of the Anabolic Phase, you need to drink another liquid protein/carbohydrate supplement immediately after your workout (in addition to the one you'll be drinking prior to working out, and the one you'll be sipping during your workout). By doing so, you'll essentially be duplicating the benefits described earlier during Phase I, doubling or even tripling the effectiveness of your drink and further enhancing the anabolic effects of nutrition on muscle building and muscle glycogen recovery.

At this point, it's important to recognize that Phases I and II are marked by a dramatically increased anabolic potential. During and immediately

after the workout, dietary amino acids and dietary carbohydrates (especially the rapidly digested kind) are most efficient in terms of their effects on muscle growth. For a grossly oversimplified description, picture it this way. If you eat 100 amino acids and 200 glucose units before, during, and after your workout, all 100 amino acids and 200 glucose units reach the muscle for energy provision, rebuilding, and recovery. However, if you eat those same 100 amino acids and 200 glucose units during the remainder of the day, only 50 amino acids and 100 glucose units will be used for muscle building, while the other 50 amino acids and 100 glucose units will be used for other purposes (including fat gain). So as you can see, after the workout, the body is much more efficient with those proteins and carbs you're feeding yourself. Of course, all the while you're keeping in mind the first premise of nutrient timing discussed earlier; you're eating for the activities you've just done as well as the activities you're about to do.

As a result of this increased exercise and postexer-cise efficiency, it should be clear that after your workout, you can load up on specific carbohydrates and proteins that might normally be counterproductive. After all, sugar is a no-no outside the workout and postworkout periods but is one of the best types of food to ingest during the workout and post-workout periods. Again, it's not about food being necessarily good or bad. A food is only as good or bad as the time you eat it. Using the proper application of nutrient timing, the right kinds of foods should be eaten when they'll best improve the body. And the most important time to consider doing so is during this exercise and postexercise "anabolic window" occurring during Phases I and II.

But since the "anabolic window" is "open" only for a short period of time, it's important to quickly feed the drinks listed above and then begin to prepare for the next phase, Phase III. Phase III, the Growth Phase, begins about 2 to 3 hours after your workout and is characterized by a return to normal metabolism.

After protein and carbohydrate have been provided during the Energy and Anabolic Phases and the net protein balance of the body shifted toward the positive, muscle glycogen restored, catabolism blunted, and anabolism increased, it's time to consider how to keep the growth process moving forward. After all, the muscle damage from your workout has been done, and your metabolism is going to be racing until the next day. Of course, as you should now realize, if the metabolism is up, it's time to eat more.

However, even though the body is under construction, it's moving quickly back toward normal functioning as that anabolic window closes. With this slow return to "normalcy," it's important to ditch the sugary, high-glycemic carbohydrates and rapidly digested proteins recommended above (and in Chapter 13). While these foods were the anabolic superstars of the Energy and Anabolic Phases, you'll have to thank them and send them on their merry way during Phase III: the Growth Phase and Phase IV: the Recovery Phase. These drinks provide a big, muscle-building insulin surge (insulin is a very anabolic hormone), so they're beneficial during and after exercise. But elevate the insulin all day, and your reward will be a chubby midsection.

Starting about 3 hours after your workout, there is a distinct challenge. While the body's efficiency at restoring muscle glycogen and taking up amino acids for growth was heightened just after the workout, it's now back to normal, and the anabolic window is closed. This would be fine if the muscle had completely recovered during this time. However, your muscles may still be partially depleted (especially the ones you just trained) and will certainly be damaged for another couple of days. So at this point, it's critical to eat enough total food to compensate for the increased metabolism accompanying the Growth Phase, enough carbohydrate to resynthesize muscle

glycogen, and enough protein to repair the muscle damage you caused during training. As you might expect, during the Growth Phase, it's important to continue to feed some carbohydrate and protein. But at this time, the key is to begin to reduce the total amount of carbohydrates ingested per meal while increasing the amount of protein ingested per meal. While ingesting 2 grams of carbohydrate to every 1 gram of protein was optimal for the Energy and Anabolic Phases, you should strive for a 1:1 ratio now. You could even throw in a little dietary fat with these meals as long as the meals remain predominantly P + C (protein plus carbohydrate).

Also, during the Growth Phase, you're going to start chewing real food rather than slurping down drinks. Real food is more slowly digested and absorbed, and while this isn't optimal for the workout and postworkout periods, this is optimal for the Growth Phase. Quick-digesting nutrition at this time would increase insulin concentrations and cause unmanageable fluctuations in blood sugar and amino acids, leading to energy swings and even excess fat gain. So it's important to choose slower-digesting proteins (meats, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.) and low-glycemic carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, beans, oats, wild rice, ancient grains such as quinoa, etc.) during the Growth Phase.

Since the Growth Phase lasts about 3 to 4 hours, you should be able to fit about two protein/carbohydrate meals (with a 1:1 ratio of slower digesting protein and low-glycemic-index carbohydrate) here.

So let's tally up our meal recommendations so far. For those of you keeping score, the Energy, Anabolic, and Growth Phases cover about 7 or 8 hours of your training day. During these 7 to 8 hours, you'll be ingesting about five total meals: two liquid supplements during the Energy Phase, and one liquid supplement during the Anabolic Phase (each supplement containing approximately a 2:1 ratio of protein to carbohydrate), and two during the Growth Phase (each meal containing approximately a 1:1 ratio of protein to carbohydrate). The first three meals contain protein and carbohydrate with no fat while the last two meals may contain small amounts of dietary fat, making all five meals P + C meals.

As noted in the previous chapter, we separate meals into what we call P + C, or protein plus carbohydrate, meals and P + F, or protein plus fat, meals. A P + C meal contains predominantly protein and carbohydrate with little fat. A P + F meal contains predominantly protein and fat with little carbohydrate.

While the idea of eating this way may seem odd to some readers, removing much of the fat from P + C meals and much of the carbohydrate from P + F meals is a great way to add muscle mass without adding excess body fat (as long as the P + C and P + F meals are eaten at the right times).

Once the Energy, Anabolic, and Growth Phases are covered, assuming you sleep about 8 hours per day, that leaves 8 to 9 hours and three meals to complete your dietary intake. It's these 8 to 9 hours and three meals that we consider Phase IV, or the Recovery Phase.

Since the Recovery Phase is marked by normal physiology, and you should have replenished much of your muscle glycogen during the previous three phases, the Recovery Phase should be full of protein and the healthy fats that weren't ingested during the previous three phases. As indicated earlier, P + C meals are warranted during certain times of the day. However, P + F meals, or protein plus fat meals, are also necessary during other parts of the day, namely during the Recovery Phase. To optimize your recovery phase meals, these feedings should contain quality proteins as well as an equal blend of saturated fats, monoun-saturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. But don't avoid carbohydrates altogether. Just choose vegetables and a small amount of fruit during these meals.



Phase 1: The Energy Phase

10 minutes before training

Liquid P + C

2:1 (carbohydrate to protein, no fat)

Sip during training

Liquid P + C

2:1 (carbohydrate to protein, no fat)

Phase II: The Anabolic Phase

Immediately aftertraining

Liquid P + C

2:1 (carbohydrate to protein, no fat)

Phase III: The Growth Phase

1 hour aftertraining

P + C

1:1 (carbohydrate to protein, little fat)

3 hours aftertraining

P + C

1:1 (carbohydrate to protein, little fat)

Phase IV: The Recovery Phase

Three or four meals during the remainder of the day

All P + F

From 1:1 to 2:1 (protein to fat, little carb)

In checking out the table above, some basic organizational questions may arise, like what if someone trains in the evening? Well, the principles of nutrient timing are similar no matter what. Below, we've provided a handy table detailing how you might apply this system if you work out during the morning, afternoon, or evening. Remember, though, these can be tweaked subtly to accommodate your schedule.






5:45 AM Liquid P + C

6:00-6:30 AM P + F

6:00-6:30 AM P + C

6:00-7:30 AM Liquid P + C

9:00-9:30 AM P + F

9:00-9:30 AM P +F

7:30 AM Liquid P + C

11:45 AM Liquid P + C

12:00-12:30 PMP +F

9:30-10:00 AM P + C

12:00-1:30 PM Liquid P + C

3:00-3:30 PMP+ F

12:30-1:00 PM P + C

1:30 PM Liquid P + C

5:45 PM Liquid P + C

4:00-4:30 PMP +F

3:30-4:00 PM P + C

6:00-7:30 PM Liquid P + C

6:30-7:00 PM P + F

6:00-6:30 PM P + C

7:30 PM Liquid P + C

9:30-10:00 PM P +F 9:00-9:30 PM P + F 9:30-10:00 PM P + C

9:30-10:00 PM P +F 9:00-9:30 PM P + F 9:30-10:00 PM P + C

Again, this nutrient timing idea might be a bit strange sounding at first. But one interesting way of looking at your food consumption during a "nutrient timing day" is such that you're eating like Atkins Diet proponents might recommend during three of your meals (the Recovery Phase), like Zone Diet proponents might recommend during two of your meals (the Growth Phase), and like the American Dietetics Association might recommend during three more of your meals (the Energy and Anabolic Phases). Of course, this system wasn't designed solely to reconcile the three big

dietary movements but rather to use what we currently know about exercise metabolism to meet your daily energy needs in order to optimize growth, adaptation, performance, and body composition.

Obviously, our nutrient timing discussion has focused on eating around your workouts. So the guidelines above are for application on training days. But what about off days? Well, during your off days, you should be eating the same way as during training days, only you'll be eliminating the three liquid drinks ingested during the Anabolic and Growth Phases. In doing so, you'll easily be able to eliminate a few hundred calories (remember, your total energy expenditure is smaller on non-training days) without even missing them.

At this point, you should be able to come up with basic answers to the big three questions:

1. How much should I eat?

2. When should I eat all this food?

3. What should I eat at those times?

By eating frequently, eating for upcoming activities or activities already performed, and introducing certain foods when they are most needed by the body, your days of being hypertrophy-challenged are numbered.

Now, before moving on to Chapter 15, a chapter discussing workout nutrition, we want to address an objection that has undoubtedly surfaced. We know that many of you are reading this and thinking that these last two chapters have been pretty detail oriented and in all this detail lay some serious challenges to your current lifestyle. After all, many of you are eating only three meals per day right now (plus a protein bar or shake or two if you're lucky). And here we come, suggesting five full-food meals and three shakes on training days. That seems like an awful lot of meals to get down every day, doesn't it?

But as discussed earlier, it's our job to be honest and up front about what it's going to take to reach your brawny goals. If you're someone who thinks this meal plan is unrealistic for your unique scenario, we're not going to tell you to just tough it out. However, we are going to tell you that it can be done. We are going to tell you that this plan is possible for you even if you're the "average guy" who spends 8 to 10 hours a day running around at the office. If you're thinking that only people who have nothing to do but eat and exercise all day long can follow this . . . Wait a second, do you hear that? That's right, our BS detectors just went off.

Listen, it's time for some tough love. For starters, we know the objections that are bound to come up because we've been guilty of thinking them. When we were scrawny ourselves, we uttered the same excuses. But nowadays, you won't hear them from us despite the fact that we're two of the busiest guys around. You see, nearly everyone is busy. Some are "too busy" to do those home renovation projects they've been meaning to get to, some are "too busy" to contact an old friend, some are "too busy" to work on the proposal that might just guarantee their financial security, and some are "too busy" to finally start taking control of their health and body composition. Yet somehow others in their very same position find a way to get it done.

So what's the difference between these two types? Those who succeed find solutions to their time-management challenges while those who don't succeed find excuses. So next time you begin to waste time finding "too busy" excuses, realize that your time would be better spent finding ways to fit positive habits, such as the principles of nutrient timing, into your schedule. In Chapter 15, we'll present some strategies for helping you do so.

My Life My Diet

My Life My Diet

I lost over 60 pounds and 4+ inches off my waist without pills, strenuous exercise, or any of the things that the diet experts tell you to do...and I did it in less than 4 months! If you have the desire, and can read through my e-book , then this is for you! I could have easily made it a lot more difficult, with stacks of information that people will never read, but why?

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment