Its About You
Remember your journey is your journey. You can’t necessarily eat the way your friend eats. You shouldn’t necessarily train the way your neighbour trains. One thing I have learned from training so many people is that we are all individuals and every body will react differently to food and exercise. Too many people copy and follow without really evaluating whether this is the right choice for them. Genetics and gene expression will have a big effect on your development so pay attention to your unique reaction and growth.
At a certain point you may want to look at your nutrient timing. Only get to this once you have grasped the concepts above. Think about food as fuel. “How much fuel do I need to consume to flourish today?” Days of high physical activity will take a little more caloric input. Days of low physical activity require less. Think about Nutrient timing as your gears; “what gear do I need to be in to make this drive”. Hi intensity work (HIIT, Sprints, Crossfit, Interval Training, Circuits etc) favour glycogen as a fuel source. Carbohydrate consumption will therefore help with both performance and recovery (recovering glycogen stores). It is therefore better to consume the majority of your daily glycogen allowance in the meal before and meal after training. Both of theses meals should also contain protein. Protein is a relatively poor energy source but is required for the maintenance and recovery of muscles. Muscle are constantly being broken down so we want to make sure that protein is ready to be metabolised when needed. Ultimately we want to increase “Lean Mass” and reduce “Fat Mass” and the consumption of protein is essential for this. The maintenance of muscle as we age is one of they key indicators of health and longevity, so keep it in check!
So we have consumed glycogen for our high gear work in our “pre and post workout” meals. We don’t consume much fat in these meals as fat slows down the rate at which protein metabolises and protein synthesises. But we still need to consume our good fats so these need to come in our other meals. This may be late evening, morning or lunch depending on when your training window is. Here the need for glycogen is less so we can get more calories from fat. We adjust our ratios relative to the work that we do and when that work happens.
Low intensity work requires less glycogen and fat is a great fuel source for this kind of work. You do not need to “carb load” for a 30 minute run at low intensity. Consuming fat, especially MCT’s (Medium-chain triglycerides) from sources such as coconut oil actually help stimulated fat metabolism. If we can become efficient at burning fat for fuel and combine that with being able to tolerate high intensity work regularly and at a good level, then we are on a good path to becoming lean machines. Your body is smart, it’s a hybrid, it can use multiple fuel sources depending on what’s needed at that time. Give it what it needs to run and let it burn.