What should I eat? This has got to be one of the top 3 or 4 questions I get asked by clients, customers and friends (well, you’re all my friends, but….). 9 times out of 10, these people know what they should or shouldn’t be eating. It’s more a question of timing, or more specifically what to eat at what times of the day. I remember growing up hearing calories in, calories out. I wish it were that simple but the fact of the matter is, it isn’t.
Of course we vary our caloric intake according to our goals. In a perfect world, if you expend more calories than you take in, then you should lose weight. That being assumed true, if you intake more calories than you burn you gain weight. Right? Well, not so fast. As the old adage says, timing is in fact everything.
Breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Well not for us weight trainers. Breakfast is important, in that you do break your fast from sleeping. This is an ideal time to consume protein, most ideally in a liquid form as it’s pre digested and easily assimilated into the blood stream. This consumption, despite our goal, should occur within a half hour of waking up. There are some circumstances when that’s not necessarily true, but then we’re getting into a whole new ball of wax with contest prep. There is a special concoction I have clients intake before morning cardio in a pre contest mode, but again I don’t want to digress. If you don’t perform morning cardio, then you need to then consider what to eat. For those concerned with losing weight, I would eat a food protein source (egg whites, lean meat) and healthy fats (almonds for example). I would not intake carbohydrates for my first meal unless the goal was gaining weight (muscle). In that circumstance, breakfast should represent about ¼ of your daily carbohydrate intake (well at least that’s the way I have our people break down their macronutrients). Healthy carbohydrate sources for breakfast would include oatmeal, cream of wheat/rice, Ezekiel break, sweet potato, and a host of other gain sources. Assess your tolerance to carbs and pick a source that suits you best.
The real most important meal(s) of the day are what you intake after weight training. Again, liquid is best as it’s most quickly assimilated but carbs are equally critical in the window of time following your workout. I personally like to use a whey isolate, Nutrex Volugro (a high molecule carb with creatine added) and L-glutamine. There are also some stand alone products that cover this, Aftershock by Myogenix is a popular one. Many use fruit, but post workout I believe you need something a little faster and heartier than fructose. Back in the day when I didn’t slang nutritional supplements for a living, I used to use Gatorade and creatine monohydrate and that seemed to work just fine. Within 90 minutes following your post workout shake, eat a sensible meal. This meal should represent as much as half of your daily carbohydrate intake. Again, what this meal is comprised of is entirely goal dependant, but for anyone that trains with weights, you need liquid protein on your way out of the gym and a meal with 90 minutes following that shake.
Finally, what to eat (or drink) before going to bed. Casein shakes are very popular these days, but have a few drawbacks from where I sit. For one, is all that casein really going to breakdown while you’re sleeping? I’ve seen a few studies that would argue no it doesn’t. Caseins main selling point, extremely slow breakdown, is also it’s biggest drawback as it’s exactly that, too slow. So at the very least, lets use a blended protein that contains both slow and fast acting proteins as opposed to a stand alone casein. For those whey protein users on a budget who don’t want to buy a secondary protein, you can always add milk (but remember even non fat milk contains sugar, not the best thing for you before bed). Another option is to add Omega 3 fish oils. This will slow the absorption of the protein, and anyone who knows me knows what a big fan I am of Omega 3 fish oil. Another essential addition to your pre-bed shake is L-glutamine. L-glutamine is the recovery amino acid. It is also the most abundant amino acid in human muscle tissue. Oh and for that last food meal preceding your shake, keep the carbs to a minimum. There’s no way your burning carbs in your sleep. A lean meat source and a green leafy are always going to be the best option(s) for this meal.
I hope this helps you in achieving your health goals. If anyone has any questions, you can contact me/us via email using the contact page on the website. Let the Fit Factory help you become the best, most healthy you!