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Workout Nutrition Timing: Fact vs. Fiction

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Pre, intra, and post workout nutrition has always been something that I take very seriously when I train.  When I was younger I would simply have a delicious PB&J sandwich, hit the gym, then down a protein shake right after.  However, if you are a serious strength athlete you want every advantage there is to improve performance and recovery.  Also when I was a beginner, I would only train for the most an hour to an hour and a half, so the total volume of work I would do was much lower then what I do now.  When training the big 3 for powerlifting and just about any strong(wo)man event, it takes a huge toll on your body.  The more advanced and the stronger you get, the more important recovery from nutrition will be.  As a beginner through high school, and college (even though I thought I was super advanced) I never took a deload, and I didn’t even know what one was.  However I trained strictly on a bodybuilding program that I literally got out of muscle magazines, so the higher rep training never beat me up enough to really need time off. 

Fast forward to when I began competing in powerlifting.  Now my training would last up to 2 hours, and I wasn’t taking very long to rest either.  I still swear by doing a program based on compound lifts as a powerlifter, accessory work like a bodybuilder, and finishers like a strongman.  Training this way added tons of volume to my overall workload, so my body needed much more attention to recovery.  I was reading everything I could online, and came across a nutrition program called “The anabolic diet”.  To give a short synopsis you basically cut all carbs, while having scheduled “re-feed” days once a week, or even once every other week to carb back up.  I won’t get into too much detail here because that can be a separate article, but it was a disaster for me.  My bodyweight didn’t increase, as I wanted to stay in the 242 weight class for powerlifting, but neither did my lifts.  I decided after the meet I was going back to eating carbs, and especially having then around the time I train.  My weight did go up a little but my strength finally increased from my previous meet.  I decided low carb was definitely not the way to go for me, especially since I was relatively lean already.  Keep in mind I’m writing this strictly for gaining strength, so if you are interested in fat loss then a lower carb approach may be better for you. 

For the competitor that has to make a weight class or just someone that looking to lift heavy while dropping some body fat, keeping the carbs lower while not training is best.  For example a lifter that trains in the late afternoon may have 4 meals prior to training.  The 3 meals before should consist of quality protein, vegetables, and good fats.  Breakfast might be 4 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, handful of spinach, chopped peppers, and coffee with protein powder added.  Meal 2 can be 10 oz of Chicken breast, and asparagus cooked in coconut oil.  Meal 3 can be something similar, I generally like ground bison, with broccoli.  About one hour prior to training is when I like to have my next meal.  Again for someone interested in fat loss you still should be having carbs right before you train, and during.  I generally like to have a shake right before I train so it can be quickly digested.  Also the carbs will cause a big insulin spike from not having any throughout the day.  Insulin is a powerful anabolic hormone essential to building muscle. 

Keep in mind what I’m outlining is for serious strength athletes.  I know for myself some of my training sessions last as long as 3 hours while prepping for strongman.  Just putting all of the weights away at the end is considered cardio when doing a medley. 

Females 150lbs and under: 80 g carbs, 30g protein, 5g bcaas, 3g creatine (Start drinking 15 minutes prior to training and finish by the end)

Females 151 and over:  100-120g carbs, 40g protein, 5g bcaas, 3g creatine

Men 200 and under        150-200g carbs, 60-80g protein, 10g bcaas, 5g creatine

Men 201 and over           250-300g carbs, 100-120, 10g bcaas, 5g creatine

I will admit that I am a huge supplement whore, which is how I’m able to make recommendations based on my own experiences.  I know a common drink for lifters is a cheap sugary drink mixed with some whey protein BUT we want to optimize everything we can.  The quality of the calories you put in your body matter greatly for your performance and your recovery.  I know personally when I use a cheap sugary drink I don’t feel as good, I get bloated, and just don’t feel as strong.  These are signs your body is not digesting things properly, and using the nutrients properly.  Here at LBEB we use True Nutrition so what I recommend is a high quality carbohydrate drink called Karboload.  Mix Karboload with the highest quality protein on the market PeptoPro and you have the best intra workout drink for performance, and recovery.  (Use code LBEB5 to get a discount on these)

If intra nutrition isn’t something you have focused on in the past I guarantee you will see a huge difference.  If you aren’t recovering as well as you should this could be the one thing holding you back.  If anyone has any other tips for intra workout nutrition drop a comment below or on the LBEB facebook page.

One thought on “Workout Nutrition Timing: Fact vs. Fiction

  1. I am leaning towards your way of thinking, especially with carbs. I noticed that morning sessions after I had been out drinking, and ate late, led to me smashing weights the next day… so what the hell is going on? (I don’t drink to excess, talking 3-5 beers over the course of the night.) Looking back, I’m actually eating carbs and protein 8-10 hours before I lift, sleeping, then despite being dehydrated I felt strong as hell the next morning and would crush it after a small shake and coffee. This has led to consistent gains in dead lifts, which I do Saturday mornings, while my squat and bench, which are done during the week, when my diet is “better,” have been limping. Still seeing gains, but my dead lift is disproportionately more manly than my other lifts. Funny how much better the machine works when you put the right fuel in it.

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