In last week’s blog I covered optimal nutrient timing for fat loss. This week we are going to tackle muscle growth. While nutrient timing is important for fat loss and plays an important role in adaptation, the importance of nutrient timing in muscle growth is even greater. If you are trying to gain muscle and you are not timing your nutrients you’re not getting everything you can out of your hard work!
It’s more than a shake!
There is more to nutrient timing than a protein shake during your workout! For those looking to gain muscle, proper timing of food throughout the day is critical. As your fitness/physique improves, the little details start to matter more and more! Protein based meals consumed every 3-5 hours will optimally stimulate the formation of new muscle tissue and/or repair damaged muscle tissue. Research has shown that the formation of new muscle tissue is highest at this interval. It is believed that it takes about 3-5 hours for protein levels within the muscle to return to baseline. Not letting these levels return back to baseline will diminish the protein synthesis stimulation that your next protein meal will have on growth and repair. While the intervals are critical, so is the amount of protein. These meals should contain approximately 30-50 grams of high quality protein to reach the threshold needed to stimulate growth and repair.
Timing around your workout!
Working your carbohydrate/protein mixture into this pattern is optimal. Simple carbohydrates and whey protein isolate or amino acids can stimulate muscle growth and repair at approximately 2 hour intervals. It appears that the concentration and ease of digestion associated with protein and carbohydrate mixtures is able to stimulate protein at shorter intervals than the 3-5 hours between balanced, whole food meals. Therefore, performing your workout with a carbohydrate and protein mixture 2 hours after a meal is optimal. Also, make sure your shake has enough water. A shake that is too dense with nutrients will not absorb properly. You want approximately 4.5 ounces for every 10 grams of nutrient. Ask you practitioner about your specific recovery beverage!
Early AM workouts!
If you are working out in the EARLY morning (within an hour of waking up) drink your carbohydrate/protein mixture as soon as you wake up, and then eat your next meal 2 hours after your workout.
Other supplements that are beneficial for muscle growth:
- Allows you to perform more work by buffering byproducts of muscle contraction that cause fatigue.
- Provides the muscles with more energy to perform work.
- May stimulate growth and repair via activating multiple growth pathways.
Ask about other supplements! So many are marketed as the next scientific breakthrough, but all they do is break the bank!
If gaining muscle is your goal, make sure you are properly timing your nutrients throughout the day and around your workouts. Remember, without proper nutrition, adaptation from exercise is significantly compromised and some of your HARD work can be for nothing!