Written by Nate Winkler
Disclaimer: Any claim and recommendation that I make in this article is buttressed and developed out of the research that is cited in Explosive Nutrition Part I.
In Part I we discussed that when it comes to performing well aerobically, explosively and mentally, carbohydrates provide the fuel our bodies prefer, not fats. When there is pre-existing muscle glycogen, which is derived from carbohydrate digestion and metabolism, the body uses the anaerobic (explosive) pathway more effectively, regardless if you are participating in endurance or explosive activity. When fatigue sets in, it is mainly due to glycogen depletion, not a shortage of fats. Yes, when it comes to a fuel source for movement, carbs are king.
With this research in hand one might make this assumption: by continuously consuming carbohydrates they will be primed for phenomenal, long lasting performances. However, this is just not the case, continually ingesting carbohydrates results in water retention, high amounts of blood sugar, fat cell synthesis, and finally, weight gain. The muscles are properly supplied with explosive nutrition, however, the athlete can not move explosively because the muscles can not generate the necessary force to overcome the adipose (fat) tissue that is weighing the body down. Without the proper macronutrient timing and servings, one will either become fatigued or impaired by, useless mass.
Instead of thinking about your training weeks as “days”, began to view them as a series of 24 hour segments catalyzed and dictated by exercise. The hormonal and metabolic conditions that are created by sleep and exercise will control your nutrition. Many nutrition programs fail athletes and those who want to improve body composition because they simply label entire days (Monday, Tuesday, and so on) as “High Carb” or “Low Carb”. The programs fail in two major areas, 1. The time gap created between meals and the hormonal changes caused by sleep, our circadian rhythms, and exercise must be taken into consideration and leveraged.
2. Exercise type and intensity need to dictate meal time, size, and macronutrient intake; simply labeling Wednesday as a “High Carb” day does not take into consideration internal hormonal climates at various times of day, which are always changing, especially in the morning and post workout hours. 100% of the time, traditional carb cycling programs will put “High Days” on intense training days, but I will show you that eating high carb every meal for an entire day is unnecessary for 90% of the population. Keeping insulin high all day will reek havoc on your hormones due to insulin’s antagonistic activity towards testosterone and growth hormone. I want to improve body composition and performance by choosing macronutrient types that work synergistically with your body’s hormones at that time. As you move forward, I strongly urge you to begin viewing your training week and nutrition in 24 hour segments that leverage the hormonal interactions or exercise induced muscle cell sensitivity. Below I will give a case study of how this worked with one of our fighters at Juggernaut Training Systems.
One of our fighters, Fabiana Borges, is a world Champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 8 weeks prior to the PanAmerican Championships she came to me wanting to lose 15 lbs. (8 pounds lean mass, 7 pounds from cutting weight prior to competition) and increase her training volume and intensity. With normal people this is a great recipe for success and weight loss, however when you’re dealing with an athlete who is a lean 140 lb. fighter and training as often as she did already, applying the proper nutrition so that weight loss occurs, and overtraining doesn’t, is very difficult. That’s when this 24 hour method of relying on hormones and training to dictate nutrition was developed. The results were phenomenal, at the end of her Pan American preparation she had hit her goal of losing 8 lbs., however her performance was at an all time high. At 132 lbs. she benched 145×1, squatted 225×3, trap bar dead lifted 285×3, and did 7 chin ups with 25 lbs. added to her body weight. Her Jiu Jitsu training intensity had improved as well during this time. I continued to work with her through her ‘cut’ and she made weight, 125 lbs. What were the results, she said she felt great; in her first fight, she tapped her opponent in the first round, and she ended up losing in the finals of the black belt division. Championships are up to the athlete, and they receive all the glory, I am only supposed to help them prepare to perform great, and this was accomplished.
I have been using this method with great success on a number of my clients by tweaking the macronutrient serving size based on the specific goal and schedule of the individual. Below is a sample training week that will allow you to see how this method works as one 24 hour period flows into the next. The macronutrient types and recommendations are discussed and chosen based on how they interact with the hormones and muscle cell sensitivity present in the body. These scenarios should address nutritional strategies for everyone, professional athlete to the weekend warrior.
BJJ= Training, TEACH= Work, JTS= Juggernaut Training
Based upon the hormonal situation you wake up with, your body is better prepared to burn fat. I never want my clients to have a large carbohydrate serving first thing in the morning, growth hormone and testosterone levels are at their highest and I want to leverage this. A study was conducted and presented at the 91st meeting of the Endocrine Society in 2009, revealing the relationship between carbohydrate (sugar) ingestion, insulin release and the inhibition of testosterone secretion as a result. Insulin’s effect on the body must be avoided early in the day. In this example, training will ensue at 9:00 am, two hours after waking; this is not enough time for the body to process a high carb breakfast and get all the sugar out of the blood. Keep in mind that the goal here is to increase lean mass and improve performance, this is not a body building program. Because training has occurred in the morning time, and a low carb breakfast was chosen, post workout carbohydrates are perfect for this situation and the following meal. Post workout carbs need to be dense and easily digested. If you want to loose weight, have a serving or black beans or green veggies, to gain mass have a protein shake with 1-2 cups of oats and banana and blend them together.
GLUT-4 transporters will act as a director post workout, moving carbohydrates into the muscle cells. As Lunch approaches, GLUT-4 is acting and your body is still considered to be post workout, carbs should be eaten at this meal. Your mass loss/gain goals will determine the carbohydrate complexity and serving size at these meals. For me, I want to gain mass, so I eat a large sweet potato before my protein serving (lean meat). For those that want to lose mass, I have them eat a larger protein serving and more fibrous carbohydrate sources, such as black beans or broccoli and peppers. The rest of the day, until dinner, I try to leverage the high metabolic rate created by morning exercise to increase lean muscle mass and burn fat. This is accomplished by keeping calories and protein high and drinking green tea or coffee. Every two hours in the afternoon I would recommend a whey protein shake, 2 Tbsp. of Organic Peanut butter and 3-5 grams of fish oils or some type of meat + avocado. As dinner approaches, the next training session begins to dictate macronutrient servings. Recall from Explosive Nutrition Part I that the body performs better with preexisting muscle glycogen, and knowing that Day 2 training occurs at 8:00am means we need to eat carbohydrates at dinner, thus ending the previous 24 hour period and beginning the next that is centered around exercise. Black beans are my favorite choice for this situation because of the high fiber content and need to be eaten first, followed by lean meat and vegetable choice. This will give your muscles glycogen that they need to perform, but is high in fiber so that our overall goals aren’t sacrificed. Don’t worry that you need a certain food to meet your goals, or that beans won’t do the job, just eat larger servings. You will be full, trust me. If you eat your dinner early and need another meal, drink a casein protein shake with peanut butter or take 5 grams of fish oil.
The situation presented here has the training session occurring first thing in the morning, and there is not time to prepare and eat a meal. When this situation occurs I like to have my clients prepare a caffeine source, coffee, green tea or a protein mocha (water, coffee, protein powder, peanut butter). This drink provides protein and caffeine without the introduction of carbohydrates and is perfect for morning training because it takes about 1 minute to make.
As the workout begins, per our discussion in Part I, eating carbohydrates is crucial to performance and intensity. For early morning workouts, I recommend eating some fruit as you train, especially if you haven’t eaten any solid food pre workout. After early morning training sessions, I recommend a high protein, small carbohydrate meal. If you are trying to gain mass, try to wait till 10:30 or 11:00 to introduce carbs. GLUT-4 will allow carbs to be eaten and directed to muscle cells at lunch. The caffeine you drank prior to workout will work together with the increased metabolic rate to create an environment that is conducive to fat burn. Eat a high carb lunch to refill your glycogen stores, then follow the afternoon eating strategy (high protein, high calorie foods, and green tea if desired) as discussed above in “Day 1” to improve body composition. Don’t mistake this as a weight loss diet, I have gained 5 lbs. of lean mass using this method over the last 6 weeks. If you are trying to gain weight, simply increase your macronutrient serving size at the appropriate time. Remember, being big is great, being sloppy is useless. Below, 6′ 4″, 320 lb. NFL offensive linemen, Alex Parsons is a great example of this. In the right photo Chad clocked Alex’s 20 yd. shuttle at 4.53 sec., this would have made him 6th among all offensive linemen at this year’s NFL combine. No matter what your body type is, becoming more lean is a goal to work toward, but big doesn’t mean sloppy.
As “Day 3” approaches we see that we have two training sessions, therefore, almost every meal the next day will be a post/pre workout meal. The sessions are spread out enough where glycogen stores can be refilled, so “Day 2” dinner needs to be a moderate carbohydrate meal, black beans, or a yam, or berries, with peppers, and spinach salad along with a large protein serving is recommended. Again, if you want to gain mass, have a casein protein shake with organic peanut butter and 3-5 grams of fish oil pills before bed.
This day will begin with the same strategy as “Day 1” with a low carb breakfast, however each meal following the post workout meal needs to high carb (1-2 cups of yams, rice, or oats per meal). If you worry that this may be too many carbs and you won’t utilize all the muscle glycogen in two training sessions, might I suggest working harder.
[quote]This plan was created for those who are serious about training and committed to their goals, if you miss 50% of your training sessions and like to watch TV when you work out this plan isn’t for you. [/quote]
The last meal prior to training session #2 should be fruit and a caffeine source; I recommend an apple and green tea, too large of a carb serving prior to training will put your body in a parasympathetic mode (rest and digest) and this will slow nerve firing to the limbs. Finish “Day 3” meals high carb, the best carb choices in these situations are Yams or sweet potatoes. Ending this 24 hour period high carb is fine, after two training sessions your metabolic rate will be so high that carbohydrates are necessary. In these situations, regardless of what the following “day” has for training, fat burn and glycogen usage will take place.
This day is the most comparable to a ‘normal’ workday where training is occurring at the end of the day after work. Start the morning with a low carb, high protein breakfast, leveraging the hormones that are in place. As the training session approaches, carb intake should increase gradually, peaking at the 2:00pm meal. Pre workout meal should be fruit and caffeine source. The post workout meal, which will be dinner in this scenario can be high carb, again, a yam or sweet potato and peppers are my recommendations.
This example illustrates either a fat burn or an off day that prepares the body for an intense training session the following 24 hour period. If cardio is possible, the morning should start with an iced mocha and low carb breakfast following cardio. Mid morning shake should be high protein and fat, with 3-5 grams fish oil. This same approach should be applied to each meal throughout the day until dinner when preparation for the following morning’s (‘Day 1’s’ training) session takes place with a large vegetable, black bean serving. The high amounts of fish oil will balance hormones and reduce inflammation throughout the body, this is crucial on recovery days. As ‘Day 5’ ends you are prepared to begin ‘Day 1’ training again, leaner with muscle glycogen stores in place for the next training session.
As you see, with this approach, nutrition is able to be more circular than linear, and each 24 hour period flows into the next without abandoning one macronutrient type for too long. My favorite carb sources for this plan are black beans, yams, sweet potatoes, fruit and raw oats. I’ve tried other methods to improve body composition and performance with myself and others, but they all leave out food types that are crucial to being hormonally healthy and energetic. What’s the point with all the training, effort, and nutrition if you feel terrible during the process? If you are on a mass gain nutritional strategy let me urge you to gain size by eating healthy food. Having two cheeseburgers, a milk shake, and 5 Little Debbie cakes will give you the glycogen your muscles need, but does a Formula 1 car use the lowest grade fuel? Putting food into your body that has been processed and is full of chemicals and additives won’t produce good results in the long run. Plan out your week and apply these concepts to your body composition goals, and you will see the results, 24 hours at a time.