At some point in time, we have all heard the saying, “Eat right, get right!” Well, I am here to tell you that is only half-right, and in some cases – wrong. Athletes today are flawed in narrowing their focus to what they eat, but the “fruits” of their labor will depend on when nutrients are consumed. Welcome to Nutrient Timing.
So what the hell is Nutrient Timing? It is a revolutionary new system of exercise nutrition that is allowing the athletes of tomorrow to build more strength and lean muscle mass than ever before. The best part, its methods are 100% safe and natural.
The easiest way I can explain the principles of Nutrient Timing is to look at how automobile fuel systems have evolved over the years. In your grandpa’s Ford Bronco, the primary fuel-service delivery device is a carburetor, (note to self: if giving a presentation to a college football team, use visual aids, they have no idea what a “carburetor” is). These devices deliver a crude mixture of oxygen and gasoline to the pistons which the vehicle then converts into power that drives it from A to B. However, if too much oxygen and/or gasoline was added to the carburetor the engine is sure to stall. Carburetors eventually became obsolete as fuel injectors were introduced as the fuel delivery system of choice. Fuel injectors are much more efficient and effective (terms physical preparation coaches love to hear) in the conversion of oxygen and gas into optimal energy because the mixture is delivered at the exact time the piston requires. Results being, today’s vehicles get far better performance out of the same tank of gas.
Until only recently, physical preparation coaches have used the “carburetor” approach to promote gains in muscle and strength when they should be using the “fuel injector” approach to transform their athletes from Chevy Cavaliers into Ferraris. Unnecessary muscle soreness and plateaus will become nothing but a bad memory. When you apply these three phases of Nutrient Timing, you can sculpt the body your sport requires, with more muscle, less fat, and you don’t have to change your training regimen!
Nutrient Timing Phases:
This is the 30-90 minute period before your training session begins. The goals of this phase are:
- Increase nutrient delivery to muscles and spare muscle glycogen and protein.
- Limit immune system suppression.
- Minimize muscle damage.
- Set the nutritional stage for a faster recovery following your training session.
So how do you capitalize on all these goals before your workout begins? The answer is simpler than you think – EAT! More specifically, eat fast-acting carbohydrates, (apples, oranges, bananas, etc.) to meet the first goal. Consume a small scoop of whey protein (5-6) grams along with Leucine to meet goals 2 and 3. Finally, the fourth goal (Vitamin C) will have already been met when you ate the orange. You are now ready to crush weights.
The anabolic phase is the most critical phase of the Nutrient Timing System. Training sessions are nothing more than stress, a helluva lot of stress. So much so, training is more stressful to the human body than a broken arm. Why? Because a broken arm is local and training is global. Hopefully I have drilled that point into your brain.
The hormone associated with stress is called cortisol, and it shifts our body into a catabolic (muscle breakdown) state following the completion of a training session. However, our bodies can be primed to switch into an anabolic (muscle building) mode if the right nutrients are provided within 45 minutes of completing your training session. Below are the goals of the anabolic phase:
- Shift body from catabolic state to an anabolic state.
- Speed elimination of metabolic wastes by increasing muscle blood flow.
- Replenish muscle glycogen stores.
- Initiate tissue repair and set the stage for muscle growth.
In order to meet all these goals is to (you guessed it) EAT! The ideal post-workout meal consists of: an animal meat, lots of fast-acting carbohydrates (pastas, beans, fruits, Gatorade etc.) with a dash of glutamine and leucine and you will have met all the above goals. Yes it is that easy.
The third and final phase of the Nutrient Timing system is where the majority of your gains in lean muscle mass and strength are forged. Now this is also the longest of the phases as it lasts 18-20 hours between training sessions. More gains are lost than made in this phase with today’s athlete, lets discuss how you fix that. There are two segments with this phase, they are:
- Rapid Segment-First four hours following your training session.
Lengthen anabolic state
- Sustained Segment-Next 16-18 hours following the Rapid Segment.
Maintain protein synthesis (an increase in protein concentration within the muscle)
I’m not even going to ask how you accomplish this goal because you already know, so what do you eat and more importantly, when? Once the Rapid Segment approaches, simply down a protein shake (15-20g) or the route I prefer, eat a serving of animal protein (preferably wild shot or line caught). Onto the Sustained Segment, any sales rep at GNC will tell you to increase your supplementation of glutamine and leucine, but as I have said, eating is the way to go. Stick to grass fed pork, chicken, beef and tell the sales rep to shove it!
Sports nutrition is generally skewed toward two ends of the spectrum. In the red corner are the “nutritional experts” who employ a stone age approach to sports nutrition. The advice they will give consists of the food pyramid (spare me), green veggies and controlling your fats. According to them, you should meet every nutritional need by following a healthy diet. In the blue corner is that damn sales rep from GNC who is the hype-guy, we all know this guy. This dude will claim things like, “triple your lean body mass in a week” by consuming their non-FDA regulated herbs and bullshit. Unfortunately, they are apart of the “more is better” crowd. If an ingredient has benefit, then more of it will give you a greater benefit.
How do you as an athlete filter this crap? As my colleague Buddy Morris once said to me, “If you ever find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” I interpret that as: everything popular is wrong! Surround yourself with those who have a vested interest in your success, stay up on the latest research, and proceed to kick ass.