Written by Nate Winkler
A couple months ago I wrote PR Smashing Nutrition, an article that discussed a number of ways athletes/lifters can prepare their nervous system, adjust their carbohydrate consumption/timing, and improve their overall performance through nutrition.
This article sparked a huge amount of discussion and I was very excited to get the opportunity to help athletes better express their strength simply through nutrition. It amazes people when I tell them that they missed a lift at the dinner table or on their way into the gym as they shoved a peanut butter sandwich down their throat.
The other issue with nutrition is, as you improve (your performance and body composition), your program needs to become more individualized. Please, don’t confuse ‘individualized’ with ‘complicated’, there are very few people that need 6oz. of chicken/sweet potato rather than 7oz. YOUR goals, YOUR schedule, and YOUR body is unique, therefore your nutrition plan should be as well.
The Rise of Strong360
Our goal at Juggernaut simple: provide second to none education, materials, and coaching so our athletes get second to none results. The only issue with this ‘individualized’ need is that it takes time, and we can’t clone ourselves. We started realizing that our readers, you, have great knowledge and experience to share as well — so the obvious question arose: How can we create a community that allows everyone to ask, post, and contribute in a supportive/troll free environment?
Last week, we released the answer to this question with STRONG360; a private community that allows members to create a profile, post training videos and get feedback, connect with likeminded enthusiasts and TEAMJTS coaches, watch Juggernaut seminars, download free training programs, and discuss specific topics in more than 10 different forums.
To call STRONG360 a success would be an understatement, not because of the number of members that have already joined, but because we created a community where people can help themselves and each other achieve their goals. Below is an excerpt from a Nutrition Forum topic, started by a STRONG360 member concerning my article on PR Smashing Nutrition.
A Day Inside The Strong360 Nutrition Forum
In the article Winkler stated how too much caffeine was not a good thing. He suggested tea. Now I have heard green tea fixes everything! But even green tea has caffeine. Can you explain please.
Caffeine consumption is very popular topic, and rightfully so. Caffeine increases muscle contraction efficiency and coordination (more muscles are contracting in unison). I never said that caffeine was ‘not a good thing’, caffeine is a useful addition to anyone’s diet, but Americans in particular are abusing this powerful stimulant. Like any stimulus, the body’s sensitivity gets reduced by prolonged exposure — what you see is people having to drink an entire pot of coffee just to experience a response.
Caffeine abuse causes adrenal fatigue, adrenal fatigue negatively impacts metabolism and a number of other bodily functions. My point in suggesting a reduction in caffeine consumption is simple: you don’t need to be ‘wired’ to walk in the office everyday, or take the kids to school, just get in bed earlier and save your adrenal hormones for when you need them — emergencies, protection, and performing at your physical peak.
That’s the reasoning behind ‘PR Smashing Nutrition’, manage your schedule, hormones, and diet so that your body responds accordingly when you need it to.
I understood the caffeine abuse. Guilty as charged!!!! 🙂 But the one line the article ‘if you need a pick me up try tea, an apple or an orange”. So I was curious about the tea. Is there a difference between tea and coffee? Maybe less caffeine in the tea or something?
There is very little caffeine in a cup of green tea, I think no more than 25mg compared to around 150 or so in a cup of coffee. I’ve drank a lot of tea in the past when trying to cut back on my admiring highly abusive relationship with caffeine
You are correct. If you can’t cut caffeine out of your diet completely (other than those rare, ‘necessary’ times) then brewed tea is a great alternative. I usually have brewed tea after lunch to avoid feeling sluggish during the afternoon hours.
Brewing your own tea is important Premade/packaged teas use low quality components of the tea leaf, giving you very small servings of the healthy tea properties and often times adding sugar to compensate.
Apples provide sustained energy and I highly recommend their use, if it’s cohesive with your nutrient timing scheme…
@ Nate I’ve had good success lately pre workout eating around 40g of carbs with some protein and a bit of fat. Lately. Like cream of rice or oatmeal with protein powder and some almond butter.
What are your thoughts on a meal like that? I got the recommendation from reading John Meadows articles
I adhere, rather strictly, to a no carb pre-workout strategy. But when people like yourself are eating a certain way and getting results — why change anything?! I think there are a few explanations why you could eat this way and experience a positive training response, mainly due to your training week.
Many people only consider the ‘day’ when making nutritional decisions when the human body is impacted for more than 24 hours hormonally. When you take your entire training week into consideration, you’re most likely never at a point where your body is not going to metabolize/utilize carbohydrates in a positive way (high intensity training impacts hormones and muscle cell absorption for up to 72 hours).
Through time, your training has obviously improved your insulin sensitivity and metabolism, therefore you could handle 40g of carbohydrates like cream of rice/oatmeal. Most people will not enjoy this luxury simply because they have not ‘trained’ their pancreas to release a smaller amount of insulin to get the same job done (nutrient absorption). Therefore, you release less insulin into blood stream, it gets removed very quickly, and your body does not go into a digestive state.
Those of you that only get to train at high intensity 1-2 times per week, or are trying to burn fat should not consume carbs 90 minutes prior to training. If you are training at high intensity more often and your body composition is at a place you’re comfortable with, you can begin experimenting with preworkout carbohydrate servings to see how your body responds.
To add to this… Caffeine inhibits receptors that register fatigue. Tricking your body into thinking that it’s not as tired as it is. This can also lead to overtraining.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge Nate, I find it very interesting and you are 100% correct about how carbs effect me. As I have advanced, gotten leaner, more muscular, etc. How they work with my body has drastically changed. I pretty much eat a high amount of carbs with almost every meal now. If I was to do so a few years ago the effect would be drastically different
“I adhere, rather strictly, to a no carb pre-workout strategy.”
Why is that, if I may ask?
This is a HUGE discussion and if you’ve read the comments above you understand that there are no ‘rules’ when it comes to nutrition.
Above you see an athlete like Kalle Beck who, because of long term consistency, has trained his body to handle a carb serving prior to training in a more positive way. But he is the exception, not the norm.
Carbs are broken down and stored in the body as glycogen. When you have preexisting muscle glycogen your body uses the glycolytic pathway more readily and efficiently (you become stronger/faster). Implying to take advantage of this you need to consume carbs prior to training, long enough for your body to digest/metabolize the carbs you’ve eaten.
If you eat carbs 10 minutes before your training session starts, most likely, you won’t be able take advantage of those carbohydrates but your hormonal/digestive response will negatively impact your performance — so why eat carbs directly before your training?
This is why “I adhere, rather strictly, to a no carb pre-workout strategy.”
For a more in depth discussion on how this all works together, read my article on Game Day Nutrition.
That makes perfect sense. Thanks for that response. Can you point me towards something that explains how performance is negatively impacted by carb intake pre-workout?
The articles are many, it’s not a matter of one definitive study, but rather an argument based simply on the function/impact of insulin in general. Insulin is the most anabolic hormone in the body and more or less dominates the other hormones in body and therefore its processes.
Insulin is released in response to carbohydrate consumption, this in turn causes the body to enter a ‘digestive state’ as the organs/cells of the body absorb the nutrients from the blood stream. Blood is removed from the extremities to aid in digestion, the CNS/PNS is impacted and the body as whole is forced into a state not conducive to peak physical performance.
You can read my brief discussion on this topic in PR Smashing Nutrition.
You can also read a more exhaustive discussion of insulin/Carbohydrate metabolism in Chapters 3-4 of Exercise Metabolism by Mark Hargreaves…it’s been my most referenced/used resource.