Carbs and Fat
If you were reading this article 10 years ago, it would tell you to eat carbs but avoid fat in your pre- and post-workout meals. The idea is that carbs before training will provide an easily accessible source of energy, while carbs afterwards will not only help replenish that energy, but also help generate insulin, a hormone that pushes nutrients into storage—in this case, escorting protein to your muscle cells. Fat, on the other hand, would be slower to digest, and blunt the responses of key hormones.
This was all based on the assumption that your body is a remedial student who needs you to keep things as simple as possible. Your body thinks it’s cute that you’re so concerned. Here’s what we now know:
- Those of us with desk jobs, who sit for long hours before and/or after training, don’t need pre-workout carbs for energy. We have more than enough in reserve.
- Unless you’re doing more than one exhausting workout a day, you have plenty of time to rebuild your energy supply. Your regularly scheduled meals should work just fine.
- That said, there does seem to be a benefit to combining protein with carbs in a post-workout meal or supplement. It should result in slightly higher protein synthesis, according to Dietary Protein and Resistance Exercise.
- As for fat, there doesn’t seem to be a cause for concern either way.
When you’re eating and training with the goal of looking better than you do now, total calories matter more than the specific composition of those calories, or the specific way you eat them. You can be lean and muscular with a low-carb or low-fat diet, and with different combinations of meals and snacks.
Putting It All Together
1. Guys who train for strength and size will get the best results with .73 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. That’s about 130 grams for a 180-pound lifter, and about 146 grams for a 200-pounder. This daily total will probably be the most significant factor in your quest to add muscle.
2. Protein synthesis is higher when you spread that protein among three or more meals, rather than having most of it in a single meal. Shoot for at least 20 grams of high-quality protein in each meal to active protein synthesis.
3.Strength workouts elevate protein synthesis for up to 48 hours in new lifters, or those returning after a layoff, and about 24 hours in those with more experience.
4. Since protein synthesis slows down during sleep, it’s a good idea to eat something soon after waking up.
5. The “window of opportunity” surrounding a workout is about four to six hours. If you have a protein-rich meal a couple of hours before a workout and another soon after, you’ll take full advantage.
6.Including carbs in your post-workout meal could improve your results.