Nutrient timing was a huge thing back in the 90’s when I first started my quest for gains. Carb and creatine powders ran dozens of pages of magazine advertisements explaining that if you missed your post-workout carbohydrate shake, your workout may as well have never happened. I believed it. Despite being broke and not having the means to afford this overpriced sugar-water, I bought it, chugged the 75g of extra carbs (despite being well above 20% bodyfat) and prayed to the Gods of Gainz that it would be my time. With my hard training and serious diet, of course I made gains, but did this carb-frenzy contribute at all? The answer is…. probably. But to what degree? And was it worth the investment?
There is data supporting both sides. However, data has also been obtained surrounding post-workout carbohydrates for optimal recovery purposes and it has shown that delaying carb intake by just two hours can reduce glycogen replenishment by 50%! It is important to replenish glycogen because glucose is needed to produce ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). ATP, the biological currency of energy, is responsible for many actions in the body including muscular contractions. The faster you can get this replenished, the faster you can start the recovery process.
On the other end of the spectrum, many argue that as long as your targeted macros are hit, meaning if you are set to eat 200g protein, 200g carbohydrates and 100g fat during the day, you will make gains regardless of when you consume your meals. There are some studies which have supported this claim, however, there is a severe lack of research surrounding nutrient timing so it becomes difficult to decide which is best. A study carried out by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2013 discovered that taking protein alone post-workout is just as effective as protein paired with carbohydrates when it comes to repairing or building muscle through the stimulation of protein synthesis. However, the inclusion of carbohydrates might have additional benefits for recovery between training sessions. So in this scenario, gains were similar but recovery would arguably be better with added carbohydrates.
For those who have followed my writing and videos over the years, I am glad we got this science crap out of the way early on in this article. Now let’s step into the real world and use real-life application, common sense and experience to find out what works best work you!
For you early morning workout freaks, I HATE empty stomach training. I want to see some protein and carbohydrates in your body. Glucose is the body’s preferred fuel source, but I also want this to be a “slower” digesting carbohydrate to avoid pancreatic dump (blood sugar crash). For protein, I want that bad boy to hit you quickly and efficiently, and we all know that whey protein has the highest biological value of all protein sources out there. Hence, we will want to set a baseline. I think everyone can benefit from about 25 grams of protein and 25 grams of carbohydrate pre-workout. Some examples of carbohydrates that are great at this time include:
- MTS Machine Carb 10
An example of your pre-workout meal may be:
- 1 scoop MTS Machine Carb 10
- 1 scoop MTS Machine Whey
- 25g carbs from Oatmeal
- 1 scoop MTS Machine Whey
So if I was training at 6am, I would eat one of these bad boys at 5am and consume my pre-workout supplements (like MTS Ruckus stacked with MTS Vasky) at approximately 5:30am. If you need or prefer to have more carbs or protein due to your unique macronutrient needs and/or to support the nature of your training, simply add more. 25g/25g protein/carb is a good starting point that can then be adjusted to suit your own needs.
For others, no matter what time you train, you may either have a standard pre-workout meal or have a shake. If you do opt for a pre-workout meal, I would make this meal heavier in carbohydrates in comparison to your other meals consumed during the day. Thus, if a standard meal for you includes 50g carbs, make this one 75g or so, based on your energy requirements during training. If you train at 3pm and you had your last meal at 12pm, your pre-workout meal might look like this:
- 1 scoop MTS Machine Carb 10
- 1 scoop MTS Machine Whey
- MTS Ruckus stacked with MTS Vasky
- Commence Workout
For those who know anything about my past, intra-workout is kind of my jam and what I am best known for. I will try and keep this to the point and simple.
Consuming carbs during your training is optional. Some feel great when using them, others don’t. I do not recommend dextrose as a source of intra-workout carbohydrates as it spikes your energy and then may cause you to crash. Therefore, if you want to use carbs intra-workout, I strongly recommend using MTS Machine Carb 10 which provides sustainable energy without spiking your insulin levels.
As for protein, we don’t want nor need this. We want branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are proteins broken down into free form amino acids. 10-14g of BCAAs has been shown to significantly assist lean mass gain and fat loss. In fact, I commissioned a study over a 12-week period whereby experienced trainers consumed a controlled diet and supplemented with BCAAs. The results? 9lbs of lean mass gain and 4.5lbs of fat lost!
Your intra-workout nutrition may look like this:
This is where it gets tricky. I don’t like the long-term, deleterious effects that spiking insulin regularly has. It also makes me feel like crap for about 45 minutes. Some love it, and I cannot argue that spiking insulin can have some benefits. When using MTS Machine Carb 10, you’ll enjoy an extremely FAST digesting carbohydrate without the insulin spike, hence why I elect it as my carb source of choice around training. But I understand, the body of data on dextrose and insulin spikes post-workout is noteworthy, so let’s explore a few options depending on your personal preference.
How many carbohydrates you require to replenish lost glycogen stores depends on the body part you’ve trained along with your training intensity. I recommend a greater amount of carbs after more taxing workout days such legs, back and even chest. For arm or shoulder day, and other smaller bodyparts, I recommend less carbs. And of course, we want some fast absorbing whey protein to stimulate protein synthesis and start the muscle building process. Here is what I recommend:
Large Bodypart Day
Smaller Bodypart Day
For those who want to use dextrose and wish to create an insulin spike, simply substitute in a scoop of Creation Supplements DextroPURE to your post-workout shake. This can be used after training both smaller and larger muscle groups.
Consume your post-workout shake immediately after weight training, or if performing post-workout cardio, once you have completed your cardio.
I then recommend consuming a meal 45 minutes to one hour after consuming this shake.
For increased uptake of the nutrients contained within your post workout shake, take MTS Machine Uptake.
Remainder of the Day
Depending on the diet you are following and your current goals, recommended nutrient intake will vary for each individual. If you are required to eat a low proportion of carbohydrates, simply elect only protein, fats and fibre for your remaining meal opportunities. If you have a higher carbohydrate requirement, elect slower digesting sources such as Wholemeal Bread and Oatmeal. Options like this have a greater amount of fibre and will keep you satiated longer.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning out the rest of your daily meals:
Rule 1: Carbs Before Bed
Carbs fuel your muscles, aid recovery and also help to potentiate sleep hormones like serotonin. This is why in addition to consuming carbs around training, I want carbs in that final meal of the day. This will help the quality of your sleep and has other great benefits. The days of not eating carbs before bed are over!
Rule 2: Fats Are GOOD!
Your brain loves fats. They also work to regulate insulin levels and are integral to hormone production. By keeping healthy fats in your diet, it will keep hormone levels adequate, energy levels stable and provide numerous other health benefits. Below are examples of some of the most healthy, beneficial fat sources I recommend you include in your diet:
- Nuts and seeds
- Fish Oil
- Peanut Butter
- MCT’s and Coconut Oil
Rule 3: Veggies Are Good!
You may eat unlimited green veggies. A quick list of my favourite include:
- Green Beans
- Brussels Sprouts
Final Take Home Points
- Eat carbs and protein pre and post-workout, regardless of your dietary requirements at other times of the day.
- Consume BCAAs intra-workout
- Eat plenty of fruits and veggies during the day
- Don’t avoid healthy fats
- Eat carbs before bed
Will this make or break your physique? Absolutely not! Will this help you optimise training and maximise your time spent in the gym? HECK YES! Start paying attention to your pre, intra and post-workout nutrition today and start making the best gains of your life!
Written by Marc Lobliner