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Saturday, 12 April 2008

Workout nutrition

Most of the information for this has come from the books “Power Eating” by Kleiner & “Nutrient Timing” by Ivy & Portman & I recommend everyone who has an interest buy both these books.
Studies have shown that there is a correct way to design your nutrition during training for size & strength as well as post exercise.
I thought we split this into two sections. First I’ll do a bit about nutrition during exercise.
OK, let’s first look at some things that happen when you train with weights (this occurs to varying degrees whether you train purely for strength, size or some combination):

ATP levels decrease
Muscle glycogen is partially depleted
Cortisol levels increase
Insulin levels decrease
Blood flow to muscle is increased
Protein degradation is increased
Muscle damage is increased
Immune system is suppressed
Acute inflammation response is stimulated
Fluid loss is increased

You have 4 main goals that you want to accomplish:
Sparing protein & glycogen
Limit immune suppression
Minimise muscle damage
Pre-preparing the body - so you recover (become anabolic) more quickly after your workout

Let’s look at them one by one

First sparing glycogen & protein:
By sparing glycogen you can workout harder before you deplete stores of glycogen. In one study a glucose based beverage gave an average of about 40% improvement over water while a carb/protein drink gave a massive 57% improvement over water 1

BCCA’s have been shown to be used as a fuel source, thus supplementing will spare muscle mass & one study shows that even adding protein to a carb drink given before training can increase protein synthesis after exercise 2

Cortisol appears to be the main issue when it comes to immune suppression. It would seem that higher levels of cortisol lower the concentration & activity of many immune system components. So, by keeping cortisol low while you train, you lessen the suppression of your immune system. In one study they compared a number of immune system functions & cortisol levels with & without a carbohydrate drink during training 3. Cortisol can increase by as much as five times during exercise, so you do risk immune suppression if you don’t take advantage of this fact

The next point is to reduce muscle damage. Now we all know some muscle damage tends to encourage muscle hypertrophy, but remember all damage must be repaired before any muscle increase can occur. Carbs again lower the biochemical markers of damage & one study showed this was by almost 50% 4
Supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin E & BCAA’s may also minimise muscle damage. One study found that although vitamin C & E didn’t enhance performance, they did decrease the levels of CPK an important indicator of muscle damage 5
So, in effect you’ll be pre-preparing the body for a quicker recovery by doing the above. Now, let’s get onto specifics, how much do you need. The numbers below can only be a guideline as we’re all different. Try it out, but you may find a little more or less of something makes all the difference to your training.
I’d stick with a simple carb have 20-26 grams (my choice is red grapefruit juice, it’s a high glucose fruit with all the extra bonuses you get by consuming fruit).
5-6 grams of protein (soya, pea, or hemp isolate is a good choice here)
1 gram of BCAA’s
30-120mg vit C
20-60 IU of vit E
If you sweat a lot or are doing duration cardio, then I’d also add some electrolytes, but don’t worry normally unless you want to:
100-250 mg sodium
60-100 mg potassium
60-120 mg magnesium
If you find it hard to add the vitamins, you can just have a C & E vitamin pill before training (split the pill & have the rest with you post workout drink – post workout nutrition to follow in a later post)
Sip this drink throughout your workout slowly.

1 Ivy, J.L.,P.T., Sprague, R.C.., et al., “Effect of carbohydrate-protein supplementation on endurance performance during exercise of varying intensity,” International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise metabolism, 13: 388-401, 2003
2 MacLean, D.A., Graham, T.E., and Saltin, B., “Branched-chain amino acids augment ammonia metabolism while attenuating protein breakdown during exercise,” American Journal of Physiology, 267: E1010-1022, 1994
3 Nieman, D.C., “Nutrition, exercise and immune system function,” IN: Clinicals in Sports medicine, Nutrtional Aspects of exercise. Eds. Wheeler, K.B and Lombardo, J.A. Vol. 18, 1999, p 537-538
4 Bishop, N.C.,A.K., Rand, L., et al., “Effects of carbohydrate and fluid intake on blood leukocytes to prolonged cycling,” International Journal of Sports Medicine,17: 26-27, 1999
5 Peters, E.M., Goetzsche, J.M., Grobbelaar, B., et al., “Vitamin C supplementation reduced the incidence of post-race symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection in ultra marathon runners,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57: 170-174, 1993 Rokitzki, L., Logemann, E., Huber, G., et al., “alpha-Tocopherol supplementation in racing cyclists during extreme endurance training,” International Journal of Sports Nutrition, 4: 253-264, 1994

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