Analysis on this topic is largely based on research which is observational in nature rather than cause-and-effect. Nevertheless, there does seem to be an observational relationship between metabolic rate, circadian rhythm and meal intake times. When you eat affects your appetite hormone levels (e.g., insulin) which may cause disturbances in your circadian rhythm and lead to metabolic syndrome (i.e., obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc.). Eating your biggest meal before 3pm tends to cause greater bodyweight loss than eating later.
A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity provides support that eating more food earlier in the day is more effective for losing bodyweight. This study compared two groups of participants: those that ate most of their food before 3pm and those who ate most of their food after 3pm. In both groups, caloric intake, macronutrient composition, activity level, sleep quantity, and appetite hormone levels were similar. The group that ate their biggest meal before 3pm lost more bodyweight at a faster rate than those who ate their biggest meal after 3pm. Other studies support this finding when it was discovered that those people who tend to skip breakfast are more likely to become overweight or obese than those who regularly eat breakfast. The reason for this may be because those people who skip breakfast tend to eat more food later in the day when their metabolic rate is usually reduced, thus perpetuating bodyweight increase.
BOTTOM LINE: Eating most of your food before mid-afternoon when your metabolic rate is elevated may be an effective and healthy habit for you to lose bodyweight. Certainly, avoid eating large late-night meals when your activity level is low--this is a recipe for weight gain!
Very low-calorie and very low-carb diets consist of eating about 10 calories per pound bodyweight and 10 to 15% carb intake daily, respectively. Usually professional physique competitors eat this way in order to achieve single-digit bodyfat percentages or to lose bodyweight/bodyfat. The trick to eating this way is to do it for only a relatively brief period (i.e., no more than four months) so as to not allow the body to go into starvation mode in which bodyfat storage occurs. To avoid plateauing when eating very low calories and/or low carbs, you should cycle your caloric or carb intake up and down to keep your body guessing and to prevent stagnation. In other words, decrease caloric/carb intake for a relatively short duration before increasing caloric/carb intake to fool the body so that is doesn't go into starvation mode. If the person dieting is very disciplined, dietary re-feeding every 3 to 4 days (or one to two weeks) in which caloric/carb intake increases by a factor of 1.5 (or 3.5) may be beneficial in obtaining an optimum physique. The risks of eating this way for a relatively long duration is the following:
- decreased metabolic rate
- decreased bone mass
- decreased muscle tissue
- nutrient deficiencies
Very high-carb diets consist of eating about 3.5 to 5g of carbs per pound of bodyweight or more than 70% carb intake daily. Usually endurance competitors or ectomorphic athletes eat this way in order to increase performance in long-duration events (e.g., marathon). Just as for very low-carb diets, very high-carb diets should occur for a relatively brief period (i.e., no more than four months) so as to not allow the body to convert carbs to fat when an excess supply is available. The risks of eating this way for a relatively long duration is the following:
- chronic elevated insulin levels
- increased bodyfat storage
- decreased insulin sensitivity
There is a growing trend that you should eat according to your physique. This dieting plan is really about nutrient timing with regard to your bodytype, known as somatotype in the parlance of the fitness industry. For instance, an ectomorphic person with a lean build (read: naturally thin with skinny limbs) should eat mostly simple, refined carbs during and after exercise. A mesomorphic person having a muscular build (read: naturally muscular and athletic) may eat simple, refined carbs during and after exercise. A endomorphic person with a big-boned build (read: naturally broad and thick) should eat simple, refined carbs only during exercise.
There may be some benefit to eating by bodytype since hormone levels, metabolic rate, sympathetic nervous system, and carbohydrate tolerance are factors in determining the optimization of one's physique. The latter factor (carb tolerance) is what's emphasized in the bodytype diet. The timing of carb ingestion (esp. simple carbs) can affect the appearance of your physique. Since ectomorphs have a high tolerance for carbs, they should eat more simple carbs during and immediately after their workouts in order to gain muscle mass and strength. Mesomorphs have a moderate tolerance for carbs and therefore should eat some simple carbs during and after their workouts in order to continue building muscle mass while maintaining a low bodyfat. Endomorphs have a low tolerance for carbs and therefore should eat simple carbs only during their workouts in order to lose bodyfat.
Fitness competitors and athletes alike usually employ a practice of manipulating fluid, carbohydrate and sodium intake within a certain period of time prior to their event. The pros know how to lean out and maintain muscle mass by learning how their body reacts to manipulating water, carb intake, etc. Experience is the best teacher in this case but the practice of manipulating fluid balance within the body in order to look more muscular and defined can work for anyone. The objective is to reduce your extracellular fluid volume without the use of diuretics so that there's less water stored between your skeletal muscles and skin. The result: your muscles will look more prominent and your body will appear leaner.
Here's the protocol that lasts for eight days that will help you to look more muscular and lean:
Double your current water intake for two days (i.e., if you're drinking 2 L daily, double this to 4 L daily).
- EIGHT DAYS OUT FROM YOUR GOAL DATE
- SIX DAYS OUT FROM YOUR GOAL DATE
- Double your current water intake again for four days (i.e., if you're drinking 4 L daily, double this to 8 L daily).
- Decrease your carb intake to about 50 to 100g daily for four days.
- Increase your sodium intake by salting your meals for four days.
- TWO DAYS OUT FROM YOUR GOAL DATE
- Drop your current water intake fourfold for one day (i.e., if you're drinking 8 L daily, drop this down to 2 L).
- Quadruple your current carb intake to about 200 to 400g.
- Decrease your current sodium intake by avoiding adding salt to your meals and avoid processed foods.
- ONE DAY OUT FROM YOUR GOAL DATE
- Drop your current water intake again by half for one day (i.e., if you're drinking 2 L daily, drop this down to 1 L).
- Maintain your current carb intake of about 200 to 400g.
- Maintain your current sodium intake.
- YOUR GOAL DATE HAS ARRIVED
On this day you will look lean and muscular! Keep in mind that although you will look more defined and muscular, this look will NOT last indefinitely. In fact, this aesthetically appealing look may only last a few hours at best because your body will be in a dehydrated state and the urge to gorge on any carb food (e.g., pizza, cake, etc.) and drink (e.g., soda) in sight will predominate. Enjoy the look while it lasts! Be sure to take a picture to capture the moment!
The foods you eat prior to exercising can impact your workout. If you eat the wrong foods, the quality of your training will suffer because you'll feel lethargic. With that being said, here are some foods you should definitely not
eat before your workout:
- Sugary foods (e.g., donuts, candy bar, soda, etc.)--these high-glycemic foods will inevitably cause an "energy crash" during your workout. Better to eat these kinds of foods after your workout if at all.
- Fast food--these foods tend to be high in fat which can take up to four hours for your body to digest, making you feel nauseous because the fatty food will sit in your stomach while you workout
- No food at all--this will certainly make you feel lethargic and weak since glycogen (the energy fuel for your muscles) will be in short supply
- Energy drink--this is not a wise choice since the amount of sugar within the drink will cause an "energy crash" during your workout. Better to drink this after your workout if at all.
So what should you eat before your workouts? Go for the low-glycemic foods
which won't cause an energy dip during your workout and are relatively easy to digest. Try a piece of fruit (e.g., apple, orange, banana, grapefruit, etc.), a whey protein shake, black beans, brown rice, quinoa, raisins, oatmeal, sweet potato, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat tortilla or whole-wheat pasta. You should eat these kinds of foods within an hour of your workout. Keep in mind that the most readily available macronutrient within your body will be used for energy during your workout. This means that the macronutrient content of your most recent meal before your workout will affect what substrates are used during exercise. For example, if you ate mostly carbs before your workout, than more carbs will be burned as fuel for energy during your workout. This is important because if you're someone who wants to lose bodyfat it would be better to avoid consuming a pre-workout drink containing simple carbs. The reason for this is because the simple carbs would be preferentially used by your body for energy rather than your stored bodyfat. BOTTOM LINE: If you're trying to lose bodyfat, the worst thing for you to do is to drink an energy drink before your workout. The sugar in the drink will be used for energy rather than any stored fat from your body. Instead, drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. If you're trying to gain muscle mass, then it is okay to consume an energy drink before your workout for the quick energy source but be sure to eat a low-glycemic food beforehand to avoid "crashing" during your workout.
More and more published studies indicate that the best supplement plan to facilitate more lean body mass gain (i.e., muscle mass) and bodyfat loss is to combine protein with carbohydrates as soon as possible (i.e., within one hour) after your workout. The timing of supplementation is important. For post-workouts, consuming protein and carbs soon after training allows nutritionally- depleted muscles to quickly absorb needed amino acids and glucose for tissue building and energy replenishment to occur. The net result is muscle hypertrophy (i.e., growth) and increased strength. One particular study conducted by Dr. Wayne Westcott found that those who consumed a post-exercise protein/carb shake had 40 percent greater lean weight gain and 80 percent greater fat weight loss than those who did not consume a shake. For a superb protein/carb supplement, try mixing powdered chocolate milk, dehydrated milk powder and water. The powdered milk supplies needed protein and the chocolate has carbs (sugar).
You should eat slow-burning carbs (e.g., banana, oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat bread) before exercising and fast-burning carbs (e.g., chocolate milk, granola, rice cakes, white bread) immediately after exercising.
|File Size: ||7 kb|
|File Type: || pdf|
Just as an example, I will provide the current meal plan that I've been eating for awhile that has supported the maintenance of my hard-earned muscle mass. It comprises about 55% carbs, 20% protein and 25% fat and is about 4200 kcals--ideal for my bodyweight and metabolism.MEAL 1:
--Whole milk (1/2 cup)
--Whey protein powder (1 scp)
--Glutamine (1/2 tsp)
--Creatine Monohydrate (5g)
--2 frozen banana chunks
--Frozen blueberries (2 oz)MEAL 2:
- Greek yogurt (6 oz) mixed with:
--Wheat germ (1 tbsp)
--Scudders smooth peanut butter (1 tbsp)MEAL 3:
- Old-fashioned oatmeal (1 cup) mixed with:
--Whole milk (6 oz)
--Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT's) (1 scp)
--Raisins (2 oz)
- Centrum multivitamin (1 capsule)
- Fish Oil (1 softgel)
- Tropicana orange juice (1 cup)
- Pink grapefruit (1/2)
- Coffee (6 oz)
- Chicken (4 oz)
- Broccoli (4 oz)
- Black beans (4 oz)
- Quinoa (4 oz)
- Water (1 cup)
--Water (1 cup)
--Creatine Monohydrate (5g)
--MCT's (1/2 scp)
--Maltodextrin (1 scp)
--Glutamine (5g)DURING WORKOUT:
--Iced Lemon Tea (42 oz) POST-WORKOUT:
--Water (2 cups)
--Creatine Monohydrate (5g)
--Maltodextrin (1 scp)
--Water (1 cup)
--Whey protein (1 scp)
--Casein protein (1 scp)
--2 Banana chunks
--Whole milk (1 oz)
--Swiss cheese (2 oz)
--Black beans (4 oz)MEAL 7:
- Lowfat cottage cheese (4 oz)
- Prunes (4 pcs)
- Green tea (6 oz)
- Whole milk (1 oz)
- Honey (1 tbsp)
--Whole milk (1 cup)
--Casein protein powder (1 scp)
--MCT's (1 scp)
--2 frozen banana chunks
Nutrient timing refers to eating certain foods at optimal occasions when your body is most able to utilize its nutrients. You need to know what
to eat and when
to eat it to complement your hard work in the gym. The foods you eat affect your hormone levels (e.g., insulin, leptin, ghrelin) which determine nutrient absorption. Muscle and bone growth as well as fat loss are largely dependent on your insulin levels. Insulin is arguably the most significant hormone responsible for driving glucose (carbs), amino acids (protein) and fat into your body cells. This hormone is released from the pancreas into your blood when carbs are eaten. Supplementation during and after your workout may be warranted in order to provide sufficient carbs (from sugar) to fuel your workout and sufficient protein (from branched-chain amino acids) to maintain muscle mass. The best way to help control your blood sugar level while exercising is to consume a protein plus carb drink before, during and after your workout. In addition, a good carb/protein supplemental shake pre-and post-workout may increase lean body mass, increase muscle strength and decrease fat weight.
Here's the strategy for eating wisely around your workout:
- Pre-workout: Eat low-glycemic, complex carbs (e.g., oats, legumes, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, fruit, brown rice, beans, sweet potatoes) to keep insulin levels steady for longer-term energy
- Post-workout: Eat high-glycemic, simple carbs (e.g., white bagel, white pasta, white bread, white rice, white potatoes) to stimulate higher insulin levels for quick, replenishing energy. Higher GI foods allow for increased glucose uptake into your muscle and fat cells when your insulin sensitivity level is increased.
- Consume higher carbs (45-65% of your calories) to fuel your training as well as enough protein (15-25% of your calories) to preserve muscle mass (up to 2g / lb bodyweight) and fat (20-35% of your calories) to maintain hormone levels (e.g., testosterone)
- Good carb foods: pasta, rice, potatoes, oats, fruit
- Good protein foods: turkey, chicken, tuna, whey protein, milk
- Consume lower carbs (since you're resting) but higher protein and fat
- Good carb foods: see above
- Good protein foods: see above