The Fat Loss King - An Interview With Lyle McDonald (Part III)
For the final interview I‘ve decided to throw some commonly-asked questions at Lyle--questions which are forever appearing on the message board. I figured this would make for an interesting, informative piece, and perhaps put to rest some of the debates that frequent the various forums… or add more fuel to the fire. I'm sure you'll find that this read will equip you with new insights on some controversial topics.
For some time now, doctors, trainers and coaches have had an ongoing problem with people who complain of weight-gain even though they’ve been exercising vigorously. The standard diagnosis in fitness circles says that a diet lacking in calories is the culprit. In most cases, many are told that it's because their body’s metabolism is cruising along at a snail’s pace. The body, in fact, has been storing the food as fat instead of distributing it as needed. Is there any truth to this?
Over the years, there's been a long held debate over the fact that people swear that they can gain weight (or not lose weight) on low calories. There's typically been two interpretations of the data: either there are people out there who's metabolism are just so far outside of the norm that they violate basic laws of thermodynamics OR that people are just really ****ty at estimating how much food that they eat and how much exercise they do.
I think that the majority of the exercising population fails to pay attention to certain areas such as portion control which, in turn, takes them several steps backward instead of forward.
A number of recent studies support the latter conclusion. The fundamental problem with most of these reports is that they are self-reported. That is, you ask
people how much they are exercising and they say "A ton, at high intensities" and then you ask how much they are eating and they say "Oh, almost nothing." Then you actually track them covertly and you find that most people are vastly over-estimating how much exercise they are doing, and vastly under-estimating how many calories, they are burning. These mis-estimations can vary by 50% either way (that is people may over-estimate their activity by 50% and under-estimate their caloric expenditure by 50%). In addition, I want to make it clear: I'm not saying that these people are doing it deliberately, or lying. Most people are simply very bad at this sort of thing.
Now, that said, don't misunderstand me: there are most certainly adaptive decreases in metabolism with dieting that do occur. This, of course, reduces maintenance calorie needs. Now, part of the reduction simply has to do with the weight loss itself. Both resting metabolic rate and the calorie burn during activity (moving around and exercise) are related to bodyweight; so less weight means fewer calories burned (if you don't believe me, put a 10 lb weight in a backpack and carry it around all day, tell me how much more tired you are from the extra workload). Carrying around 100 lbs of fat burns a lot of calories.
No thanks; I have enough trouble carrying around my stomach as it is.
: But there is also an adaptive component that is a drop in metabolic rate beyond what can be explained by the drop in bodyweight. This gets back to the leptin system I talked about earlier: the body down regulates total metabolism during dieting to compensate and dropping leptin appears to be the main signal involved.
Now, during extreme dieting, either extended periods to very low body fat percentages, or simply very low calorie dieting, this adaptation tends to be the greatest. In one of the classic studies (the Minnesota Semi-starvation study), lean men were put on 50% of maintenance calories for 24 weeks. They pretty much lost all of their body fat and had a reduction in total energy expenditure of 36%, of which 16% was part of the adaptive response. However, their maintenance calorie requirement never went below their caloric intake. Now, that's a very extreme reduction, 5-10% is closer to average. That is, the adaptation to low calorie dieting, even extremely low calorie dieting is NEVER large enough to suddenly bring that person back into positive energy balance. You see a 5-10% reduction in resting metabolic rate at the maximum.
So say you have someone with a total energy expenditure of 2000 calories/day. Now you put them on 800 cal/day. Let's assume the same level of adaptation as seen in the Minnesota study (which is the largest value I've ever seen): 36%. So, after a while, their energy expenditure is down 36%. That's 720 calories, giving them a new maintenance level of 1280. Fine, yes, that will certainly slow weight loss, but they are still in a caloric deficit. They don't magically start getting fat again *unless* they start overeating.
: And, sad as it is, most will start over-eating again.
Basically, I've seen no evidence in the studies (done over 3 decades where food and activity are rigorously controlled, and that's the key) that daily maintenance calories can ever somehow drop below caloric intake during low calorie dieting. Yes, it will adapt and I've seen it literally stop fat loss in its tracks. And certainly, if you jack up calories rapidly under those conditions (a depressed metabolic rate), you're going to get rapid fat gain. However gaining fat on super low calories has more to do with people being terrible at estimating their caloric intake and expenditure.
Ultimately, it comes down to the following discrepancy: in controlled lab studies where caloric intake and expenditure are rigorously controlled and measure (and I'm talking they spray these folk's plates with water and make them drink the mush so they know *exactly* how many calories they are eating), the observation of someone gaining weight on super low calories has NEVER been observed. That's over decades of study and lord knows how many subjects. Then we have these self-reports of folks gaining weight while dieting, coupled with more studies showing that people usually underestimate food intake and over-estimate activity.
I hate to be a party pooper but people are deluding themselves.
Well I'm sure you've been asked this question many times, but since it's always being debated I have to ask you. There's a nasty myth in circulation right now claiming that only 30 grams can be taken in. How much protein can the body assimilate at one time?
Well, I think part of the problem has to do with what you mean by 'assimilate'. That is, you sometimes see the '30 grams per meal' (or whatever it is) to mean how much the body can digest, utilize, or what have you. But nobody seems to really want to nail down what they are talking about.
Ok, let me rephrase the question: "how much protein can the body handle in one sitting?"
I consider all of this "The body can only use X grams per Y" as a lot of nonsense. First and foremost, it makes no evolutionary sense (how I've been looking at a lot of physiological processes lately). That is, our ancestors did not eat protein in small amounts throughout the day. Yet, anthropological studies show that they had more muscle and bone mass than most of us. Rather, they were more likely to eat a ton of protein after a kill, and whatever amount they got from vegetables and such the rest of the time. Massive protein intakes at once were more likely the norm during 99% of our evolution than not. This means that our guts evolved to handle it. In addition, when you start looking at digestion and such, you see exactly that: even with massive protein loads (I vaguely recall they've looked at like 1.5 g/kg of beef all at once), digestion still stays very high (on average 90-95% for animal proteins meaning you're losing at most 10 grams of protein/100 grams ingested). The body can digest/absorb pretty much anything you throw at it. You won’t be pooping protein if you eat 35 grams at a sitting, is what I'm saying.
Now, a slightly separate issue might be one of how much protein (amino acids really) the liver can handle at once. If the recent studies on whey vs. casein have pointed anything out, it's that flooding the liver with amino acids at a high rate leads to increased amino acid oxidation (burning) in the liver. I suppose it's conceivable that high protein intakes at any given meal could be having this effect. I suspect it depends on the source of the protein (whole food which digests slowly vs. protein powders which digest faster). That is, consuming, say, 50 grams of whey protein at once might lead to more waste (mainly as amino acids oxidized and then converted to urea) than 50 grams of casein or beef. But that's more an issue of speed of digestion than amount per se.
So how much protein can the body use for growth?
In terms of supporting optimal growth, an interesting discrepancy actually occurs here between the studies on our ancestral diet and the protein needs of athletes, but nobody has an explanation yet. Good studies by Peter Lemon, Mark Tarnopolsky, etc. support a maximum protein requirement for natural lifters of about 1.8 g/kg (a little less than the 1 g/lb that bodybuilders have used for years). But studies of our ancestral diet suggest protein intakes as high as 2.5-3 g/kg. Nobody is quite sure if this protein intake was simply a side effect of the diet our ancestors followed, or if it had some actual benefit.
Finally, I think the whole 30 g/meal (or whatever) thing can't possibly apply to everyone. I mean, at the low end, figure a 210 lb lifter is eating 210 grams of protein per day. If he's limited to 30 grams/meal, that means seven meals minimum per day. Obviously, if there is some limit to protein absorption/assimilation/digestion/utilization (and I don't honestly think that there is) it's going to be related to body mass: a larger individual needs more protein and would be able to utilize protein in larger amounts than a smaller person. Ultimately, my hunch is that the whole '30 grams per meal' (or whatever) thing came from one of two places:
Early supplement companies trying to convince lifters why their protein product (containing 30 grams) was better than others. I remember one company pulling a scheme like this, when their product contained like 37 grams of protein, they wrote that 37 grams was the maximum that could be absorbed. When they bumped it to 42 grams of protein per serving, 42 became the magic number. Ah, advertising.
Bodybuilders rationalizing what they had already decided to do. That is, you frequently see bodybuilders and other athletes finding a strategy that works (i.e. eat protein at intervals throughout the day) and then making up physiological rationalizations afterwards. It wouldn't really surprise me if that weren't the case here. Of course, if anybody has a single piece of peer-reviewed research supporting this 30 grams myth (everybody seems to claim to have seen it but nobody seems to ever have it; it's like those friend of a friend stories), they can feel free to send it to me care of email@example.com
How much muscle can a person gain? Bryan Haycock states that theoretically a trainee could put on 20 pounds in 4 weeks and 60-100 pounds in a year’s time by an individual using anabolic steroids. Most people realize that theory and real-life results don't always go hand-in-hand. Variables such as protein synthesis, proliferation and differentiation of satellite cells, environment, hormonal levels etc. all play big roles. Given a perfect playing field, do you think that this is achievable and how much can the average natural lifter gain in a year?
What he actually said on the HST forum (www.hypertrophy-specific.com
) was: "Theoretically, with heavy drug use, a human could probably put on 20 pounds in 4 weeks. That same person could probably put on 60-100 pounds in 12 months. I have never personally seen anyone do this though."
Unfortunately, all of the theoretical calculations tend to be exactly that, theoretical. Moreover, they never seem to pan out because they ignore the body's ability to adapt to just about anything. So short-term studies looking at bumps in protein synthesis after training (which can be used to calculate theoretical maxes over a year or what have you) ignore the fact that the body will also be increasing rates of protein breakdown as you get larger.
On top of that, you have hormones, nutrition, optimizing training, etc.
But ignoring all of that, I think that 20-25 lbs in the first year by a natural lifter would be average. Again, that assumes they get even most of it right in terms of training and diet (on top of rampant training mistakes, most people simply don't eat enough to put on mass at an appreciable rate). After that, it's harder to predict. Another 10 lbs in the second year, maybe 5-10 lbs more total after that; so you're looking at maybe 40 lbs total for a natural lifter. Women would probably make maybe half of that naturally. I think that's going to close to the limit for your average natural trainee.
How flawed is the Glycemic Index?
: Ah, another quickly answered question. Sure. As usual, I'm going to be wordy as hell and look at GI from both the pro and con parts of the debate. IF readers are wondering, this is how I at least try to look at stuff. That is, rather than trying to say "X good, Y bad", I look at it from a cost/benefit or pro/con point of view. It's part of why I'll never be a billion dollar best selling diet book author; I won't give people absolute answers when that's what they want. But that's another rant for another day.
How about explaining to readers who aren’t familiar with it, what the glycemic index is all about.
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how a given food affects blood glucose. It was originally developed for diabetics, for whom blood glucose regulation is literally a matter a life and death. To measure GI, subjects are given either 50 or 100 grams of a reference carbohydrate (they used to use glucose, now they use white bread) and blood glucose concentrations are measured. Technically, they are measuring the area under the curve of blood glucose versus time. This is given an arbitrary value of 100. Then they give 50 or 100 grams (I think they are using 50 grams of digestible carbohydrate now since it's a more realistic portion) of the test carbohydrate, measure area under the curve, and compare the two. So if a food only has 60% of the effect on blood glucose as white bread, it's given a GI of 60. A food with 110% of the effect on blood glucose has a GI of 110. And I really want to make the point that GI is a relative scale. The numbers don't mean anything, they are simple arbitrary values. You could call white bread 1 and give foods a value of 0.6 and 1.1 for all it would matter. The 100, 60, and 110 don't mean anything, they are just relative rankings.
Now, before the GI, the assumption was always that simple carbohydrates (think sugars and fruit) would digest more quickly and be worse for diabetics than the complex carbohydrates (starches and such). The early studies on GI showed this to be false. It turned out that the sugars fructose (which is handled mainly by the liver) and sucrose (which is half glucose and half fructose) had much lower GI's than more complex carbs. Potatoes had a very high GI, so did carrots (more on this in a second). Table sugar had a lower GI than many complex carbs, which threw a real wrench into the whole issue. We can generalize that less refined foods have lower GI's than more refined foods but it's not even that consistent. It's turning out that the type, form, structure of the carbohydrate are all having an impact.Everybody thought that this would really revolutionize diabetic meal planning and, of course, athletes picked up on it because glucose/insulin control is important for them. But there were some immediate problems.
: What were some of the problems?
The first is how GI is measured, by giving folks 50 grams (again, digestible carbohydrates, fiber doesn't count) of that food alone. Some foods can't be tested. I mean, how much lettuce would it take to get 50 grams of digestible carbs. A metric ton is how much. Of course, those types of foods really aren't the problem.
But what about carrots? Folks got their panties in a twist because carrots were shown to have a high GI. But you'd have to eat enough carrots to get 50 grams of carbohydrates. That's like 9 or 10 carrots in a sitting. Worrying about the carrot shards in your salad while dieting is missing the point.
Now, this led to one easy solution, the concept of the glycemic load, which is simply the amount of carbohydrate (in grams) times the GI. So say you want to compare two foods, one with a GI of 50 and the other with a GI of 100. In terms of glycemic load, you could eat twice as much of the first food as of the second.
That is, 10 grams of the first food (GI = 50) gives a glycemic load of 500. 5 grams of the second (GI = 100) gives a glycemic load of 500 as well. The next problem is that people don't just eat carbs at a meal (well, many do but they shouldn't). It turned out that adding protein, fat and fiber to a meal almost universally lowered GI (most likely by slowing digestion which decreases how quickly glucose hits the bloodstream). There were also problems with individual response, and the fact that most foods hadn't been tested (at this point, this last criticism isn't that big of a deal).
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but does the insulin index come into play somewhere along here?
: Hold your horses. Recently, more research has identified another problem: although glucose is a problem for diabetics, insulin management is equally crucial (the fundamental problem in diabetics is related to insulin). It was always assumed that changes in insulin and blood glucose would be identical but it turns out not to be the case. One group of researchers has recently identified an 'Insulin Index’, which is a measure of the actual insulin response to various carb foods. And while GI and insulin index are related, they aren't always consistent. For example, adding protein to a meal does lower the GI, but some studies show it increases the insulin response at the same time. Oh what to do? Eventually you reach the conclusion that you just shouldn't eat anything at all.
Anyway, the argument over GI usually goes along these lines.
GI is good, because it lets us predict the blood glucose (and maybe insulin) response to foods.
Yeah, but it's only valid if you eat that food by itself, as long as you eat protein, fat and fiber at each meal, GI doesn't really matter.
Maybe not, but research in diabetics does show that mixed meals with low GI foods still give better blood glucose control than meals with high GI foods.
Well, ok, but GI is a bitch to use, most foods haven't been tested, and it's just not practical in the real world. And if you’re worrying about insulin, GI may not predict the insulin index.
Well, you're an idiot.
Oh yeah, your mama
Hah! #6 is sure to ignite some debate amongst the white coats.
Around and around it goes and it's always fun to watch scientists bitch at one another over stuff like this. It never quite gets to stages 5 and 6 but it's not far off.
My opinion, GI is one of many nutritional factors that can be useful, but don't get too hung up or psycho about it. As I mentioned above, as long as you get sufficient protein, fat and fiber with each meal, the GI of a food becomes much lower and the GI concept ceases to have much relevance. For diabetics, yes, GI is probably far more important.
Regular exercise, maintaining a low/normal body fat percentage, all of the other behaviors that bodybuilders and athletes engage in makes GI much less important because the body is so much better at handling blood glucose and insulin.
Of course, there are other good reasons to pick unrefined, high fiber carbs besides the low GI. They tend to promote more fullness, have more micronutrients, etc. But, overall, I don't think that the GI concept per se is that big of a deal, especially not if you're eating protein, fat and fiber at each meal (as I think folks should be). That's on top of regular training to maintain glucose disposal and insulin sensitivity, keeping body fat under control, etc.
So, what would you say to sum things up?
I guess, I don’t know that the GI concept is inherently flawed, it simply has some real limitations in terms of application, and I think it only has a huge relevance to certain groups (diabetics).
: Let's switch gears here and look at muscle hypertrophy, and at how glycogen super compensation may be a focus area for supplement companies in the future. We all know that a happy muscle (full of glycogen) is one that will produce more work thus leading to a more 'intense' (I'm using the term "intense" loosely) workout.
Ok, lemme go into one of my page long 'quick' tangents and talk about this. First, I agree about avoiding debates over intensity, too many competing definitions. Instead, I want to talk about the role of glycogen levels on weight training performance.
Semi-surprisingly, but maybe not, the studies on the topic don't generally show a decrease in performance with weight training during glycogen depletion
(or improvements with super compensation). Of course, there are some problems, the main one being that most of the studies are only testing performance over a set or two. Unless glycogen is really really depleted, a single set or two isn't going to tax stores.
As well, fatigue during a single set isn't limited by glycogen stores (generally). Rather, it's caused (depending on rep range/set time) on lactic acid buildup and neural factors. So, in theory at least, glycogen stores shouldn't matter. OF course, in reality, we know that's bunk. Unless you're doing very low volume training, your ability to perform well across multiple sets is going to be affected by glycogen stores.
Which leads to another tangent, related to glycogen compensation, training volume and growth. The energy stores of a muscle are involved in how well growth can proceed. For example, during a set, levels of ATP drop (technically the ATP/ADP ratio goes up). In response to this, little buggers called eukaryotic initiation, factors (EIF's) stop working. Now EIF's help to turn on ribosome activity (ribosomes take messenger RNA and make proteins out of amino acids). Once ATP levels are repleted, EIF's activate ribosomes again and protein synthesis can take place.
The point being that cellular energy depletion tends to 'tell' the cell what's relatively more or less important. Under most circumstances, short-term energy repletion is more important than anything else (in this case protein synthesis). Basically, if you’ve depleted muscle glycogen extensively, you can't really grow until you replete it. Depending on diet, that can take 1-3 days (depending on depletion as well). The body doesn't do two things at once well under most circumstances (this was a point that Duchaine/Zumpano made nearly 20 years ago in their Ultimate Diet and they were absolutely right). That is, if you deplete glycogen and stimulate growth, your body will tend to refill glycogen first, and worry about growth second.
Now, most people training high volume (assuming average genetics) are training each body part infrequently. By the time, they've refilled glycogen; the stimulus for growth is gone (mRNA and increased ribosome activity is pretty short-term, 36 hours or so). I suspect this is part of why these types of folks invariably grow better on higher frequently, lower volume training (think Hardgainer philosophy or my buddy Bryan Haycock's Hypertrophy Specific Training). Not only are they not significantly depleting glycogen because of the lower volume (meaning no real need for repletion), but also they are able to train more frequently and keep growth (via mRNA and ribosome activity elevation) going better. Now, most people training high volume (assuming average genetics) are training each body part infrequently. By the time, they've refilled glycogen; the stimulus for growth is gone (mRNA and increased ribosome activity is pretty short-term, 36 hours or so). I suspect this is part of why these types of folks invariably grow better on higher frequently, lower volume training (think Hardgainer philosophy or my buddy Bryan Haycock's Hypertrophy Specific Training). Not only are they not significantly depleting glycogen because of the lower volume (meaning no real need for repletion), but they are able to train more frequently and keep growth (via mRNA and ribosome activity elevation) going better.
Interesting stuff. Now, what about those who use anabolic substanceslike testosterone? Many people who've dabbled with or are frequent users of this drug have found they can get away with a higher volume of sets. Does this have anything to do with their glycogen stores?
Interestingly enough, a thing about glycogen repletion is that testosterone increases the body's ability to replete glycogen (and store more of it). So take a steroid user or someone with high normal testosterone (i.e. not me); they are the folks who can do high volume training and grow well. They can pack so much glycogen into their muscles that they don't really deplete it that much in the first place; and in response to training they can refill glycogen so quickly that they can still get growth even training very infrequently. This is sort of a tangential benefit of testosterone (ab) use among athletes; in addition to direct effects on protein synthesis, by affecting glycogen storage, you get overall increased growth. That would be on top of any cellular hydration based mechanisms.
But the point of where this started: glycogen super compensation does appear to make people marginally stronger, most likely via purely mechanical/leverage means (water storage in the muscle). But it's not really an effect of having more glycogen per se; because glycogen levels aren't (typically) what limits performance. However, glycogen stores are still important from the standpoint of growth for other reasons.
With all these new methods and the revolving factor of 'refeeds', 'carb ups' and/or 'binge days' being the center of attention, people are going to be looking at trying to minimize the spill-over of glucose and maximize glycogen stores. Supplements such as Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vanadyl Sulfate, Chromium Picolinate, Glutamine and drugs such as snythetic Glycogenin (not yet approved for human consumption--at least to my knowledge) Metformin and Phenformin are being explored increasingly. Do you think that any of the above-mentioned have had any noteworthy effect on glycogen storage?
Lipoic acid definitely works but it takes high doses (gram plus per day) which gets pricey. Honestly, most people never really got much out of chromium or vanadyl (maybe at high doses). I think using glutamine for glycogen repletion is an inefficient way to do it; I know what Poliquin (who has popularized the approach) is trying to do, I just think it's very expensive for what it does. I wasn't aware that they were working on a synthetic glycogenin drug, interesting. I've used Metformin (or was it Phenformin) years ago and it definitely improved the quality of my old Bodyopus carb-ups (even as crappy as they were): more glycogen storage and less spillover. So I think they have some utility here.
So yeah, I think they have some benefit but it depends on what you're trying to do. Someone with normally good muscular insulin sensitivity (these people tend to stay lean while putting on muscle, get great pumps during training, etc) probably won't get much out of him or her. But they might be worth trying for other people.
What do you think is the most effective method for shuttling glucose into the muscles and bringing about greater glycogen storage?
Well, the classic method of increasing glycogen stores is with prior depletion. Back in the 50's, the endurance folks did 3 days of low carbs with glycogen depletion followed by 3 days of high-carbs and reduced training. They were able to push glycogen stores far above normal levels that way. As with the weight training studies, while it didn't increase the speed at which they could go (equivalent to strength in weight training), it let them maintain that speed for longer periods (equivalent to doing multiple sets in weight training).
Later research showed that you didn't have to go to that extreme: regular training plus a high carb diet leads to higher than normal glycogen storage anyhow (athletes run higher levels of muscle glycogen than non-athletes for this reason).
A recent study (I saw it, like a week ago) showed that you can actually get super compensation of muscle glycogen (quads) in 24 hours which runs contrary to old belief which says it takes 2-4 days or so. They had guys cycle for something like 250 seconds at 100% of VO2 max followed by 30 seconds at 130% of VO2 max. Then they gave them 10 g/kg carbs over the next 24 hours. They achieved near maximal glycogen levels. So, if your explicit goal were to max out glycogen stores, for some reason, you would first want to deplete (meaning high volume, high reps: sets in the 45-60 second range which maximizes glycogen use) and then eat carbs like they were going out of style. This was what the Bodyopus diet was doing.
If someone were to incorporate training as a way of increasing their stores they would basically train using higher than normal volume and eat carbs post- workout like a pig.
: Yes. Muscular contraction increases glucose uptake into the muscle cell (via increased levels of the transporter, GLUT-4). As well, glycogen depletion leads to increases in levels of the enzymes which store glycogen (glycogen phosporylase and glycogen synthase).
If you were trying for super compensation (as opposed to just maintaining normal or high-normal levels), you'd want to go for nearly full depletion (which takes quite a bit of volume) followed by one or more days of very high carbs (10 g/kg lean body mass in the first 24 hours, 5 g/kg in the second 24 hours).
Using lipoic, acid or one of the other insulin mimetics might very well either:
a. increase the levels of glycogen you achieved
b. speed up the process (so you could carb-load faster).
Speaking of carbs and glycogen replenishment--what would you say is the best post-workout method for enhancing muscle recovery and promoting protein synthesis?
It really depends on which part of recovery you're focusing on. Unfortunately, most authorities only focus on one part of the big picture.
In simplistic terms, you need to be worried about two recovery factors in terms of optimizing growth (this assumes that your workout stimulated it which is a separate issue: local and systemic recovery. The first is local glycogen recovery, along with the provision of amino acids. Part of this ties into refilling muscular glycogen stores as quickly as possible (as per the question above), so that protein synthesis can take place. You get the most rapid rate of glycogen storage right after the workout so this is the best time to do it. Additionally, study after study after study show that raising insulin (via carbs) along with amino acid levels (via protein intake) improves post workout protein synthesis.
A recent study actually showed that pre-workout carbs/protein (and we're not talking large amount: it was like 30 grams carbs, 6 grams essential amino acids) improved post-workout protein synthesis better than post-workout carbs. The reasons is likely one of timing: even if you slug a shake immediately after your workout: it's still 30 minutes before it gets to your muscle. Take a drink right before training, and it's there as soon as the workout ends. Of course, I'd suggest people do both.
But muscular recovery is only part of the picture; you're only dealing with local factors. There is also a systemic factor to consider, in terms of the body's overall metabolism (anabolic or catabolic to be simplistic). This is being controlled mainly by liver metabolism. Now, liver metabolism doesn't get talked about very much, it's not a very 'sexy' topic. But it is important to overall growth. Keeping the liver in a fed state (by maintaining levels of liver glycogen) keeps the body in a more anabolic state. You maintain insulin levels better, which means better IGF-1 levels (although blood borne IGF-1 really isn't that important to muscular growth, contrary to what most people believe), you get better thyroid conversion, the higher insulin also helps unbind testosterone from SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) and keeps cortisol down. etc. etc.
: Most publications, studies, and fitness experts talk about Fructose being a carbohydrate that should not be a bodybuilder’s first choice when it comes to a post-workout shake. Why is that?
Lyle M: Well, intensive training depletes liver glycogen quickly because of the hormonal response. That means that, depending on diet, length of your workout, etc. you are entering a systemically catabolic state as you come out of the workout because of the shift in liver metabolism. Correcting that and returning to an anabolic, state is part of overall recovery and growth.
Now, while glucose is the main fuel for muscle glycogen (quite in fact, fructose can't be taken into the muscle cell, there's no transporter), it doesn't do a very good job of replacing liver glycogen. 80% or more of ingested glucose goes straight through the liver, to get to the muscle. Fructose, on the other hand is primarily liver fuel
. Now, I know that a lot of people have made an issue of how *excess* fructose converts to triglycerides and this is an issue with massive amounts (which you see in the general public because of too much sucrose and high fructose corn syrup intake). But you don't see problems until you get to like 50-60 grams per day, which is actually quite a bit (an average piece of fruit may have 7 grams of fructose). It's simply a non-issue for most people.
Wannabebig: In your opinion, what would be an approximate ratio for pre/middle/post workout nutrition?
Take a small shake of say 20-30 grams carbs (glucose/maltodextrin) with some protein (maybe 12-15 grams since we don't have access to essential AAs by themselves) in as little water as you can mix it (this is to avoid getting sick) right before your workout starts.
If your workout were particularly long (more than 1-1.5 hours), it would be a good idea to sip on a Gatorade solution. 15-30 grams of carbohydrate per hour is plenty. This will maintain blood glucose better, and an abstract a year or two ago showed that it improved overall anabolism.
Then slam your post workout shake immediately after training. The old recommendations for post-workout carb intake was 1-1.5 grams of carbs/kg lean body mass with about 1/3rd as much protein. So, for an average lifter (say 65 kg=150 lbs of LBM or so), you get 65-100 grams of carbs with 20-30 grams of protein. Since you already took in 20-30 grams pre-workout, I'd subtract this from the post-workout shake. If you took in carbs during the workout, you'd subtract that too. So you'd be looking at 45-80 grams of carbs post workout, with 20-30 grams of an easily digested protein. You'd want most of the carbs to be glucose or glucose polymers, but with some fructose (maybe 10-20 grams) in there as well.
Then you'd eat a normal meal about 2 hours later to keep things moving.
So it would look like this overall for a lifter with 65 kg (150 lb) of LBM:
Pre-workout: 20-30 grams glucose/12-15 grams whey protein
During workout: 15-30 grams carbohydrate/hour (if needed)
Post-workout: 45-80 grams carbs from glucose/maltodextrin and some fructose (10-20 grams) with 20-30 grams of protein
2 hours later: normal meal
Wannabebig: I'm sure our readers have acquired a great deal of info they can apply to training. Nevertheless, to a large extent knowledge does not necessarily empower someone if they aren’t mentally motivated. In all your experiences did you ever, or can you pass along any inspirational quotes which may have motivated you?
Lyle M: I'm going to have to pass on this question; I'm not really a motivated/motivational type of person. Any quotes I'd put here would just be mean and nasty because I'm really cynical and pessimistic most of the time.
Wannabebig: Are you available to do online coaching, programs, nutritional plans and pre-comp prep? If so, how can people reach you?
Lyle M: The best way is to simply email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'm usually looking for new guinea pigs for various ideas.
Wannabebig: Thank you Lyle.
Well there you have it folks. I'm sure Lyle will return in the future to share more information about nutrition, supplementation and training. If you’re interested in purchasing one or both of Lyle’s books you can do so at Power store, Netrition, Amazon.com, or they can also be ordered directly from our Lyle's Ebooks section on Wannabebig.
His new book 'Special Report #1: Bromocriptine' is currently also only available in our Lyle's Ebooks section on Wannabebig.
Written by Maki Riddington