Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bulletin #2- -Training Nutrition-

-Pre and Post Workout Nutrition Strategies-

Table of Contents

Weight Lifting and Post Exercise Muscle Recovery
By John Berardi

Muscle Masochism
By Lonnie Lowery

The Importance of Post Workout Nutrition
By John Berardi

The Science of Nutrient Timing
By John Berardi

By John Berardi

Solving the Post Workout Puzzle
By John Berardi

Precision Nutrition for 2002 and Beyond
By John Berardi

The Post Workout Resurgence
By John Berardi

Weight Lifting and Post Exercise Muscle Recovery
By John M Berardi

Did you ever wonder what's really happening to your muscles during and after exercise? Sure, there's no doubt that something's going on down in those contractile fibers, something strong enough to make you walk like Frankenstein for a couple of days after your leg workout. But what exactly happens to make you unable to negotiate curbs and doorsteps? Well, since science can provide a little glimpse into the phenomenon of post-exercise muscle recovery, in this article I'll address muscle recovery from a scientific perspective. Therefore whether you're man, woman or child, you'll be able to explain your pain.

Conventional weight lifting consists of two distinct phases of movement. The concentric phase is the positive portion of the lift (i.e. the upward push on the bar during a bench press) while the eccentric phase is the negative portion of the lift (i.e. the downward lowering of the bar during a bench press). Each portion of the lift can contribute to the muscle damage seen during weight lifting as follows.

1) The eccentric portion of the lift is, by definition, a form of forced lengthening of the muscle. Forced lengthening with high weight loads causes microscopic tears in the small fibers that make up the muscle and the connective tissues. Since eccentric contractions tend to involve fewer muscle fibers than other contractions, each individual fiber that's recruited takes a large beating. Therefore during exercise, the muscle is physically damaged.

2) The concentric portion of the lift, while the force is dispersed over more fibers, tends to require much more metabolic activity. This metabolic activity leads to depletion of muscle energy stores such as ATP and muscle glycogen (carbohydrate). This depletion, while exercising, may lead to greater susceptibility to the damage seen above.

3) Both the physical damage caused as well as the metabolic depletion can lead to altered cellular calcium balance during and after the exercise. With this, the amount of calcium in the cell increases. This excess of calcium can activate enzymes that break down cellular proteins including contractile protein. In addition, calcium can build up in the mitochondrion of the cells, thereby decreasing cellular energy production.

4) As a result of all of this disruption, the body signals for help. After all, there is dysfunctional muscle debris that needs to be cleaned up. So after exercise, fluid begins to build up in the damaged cells in order to bring immune cells such as neutrophils and macrophages to the site of injury. While these cells end up clearing away damaged tissue, their activity leads to the build up of pesky free radicals (these are why we think antioxidants are so important). Free radicals may cause further muscle damage, prolonging recovery time.

5) While this cycle of destruction and healing persists, normal muscle function, such as the ability to take up and store carbohydrates is compromised. This leads to a prolonged recovery of muscle energy, further delaying full healing.

While it's nice to know what's going on at the microscopic level of skeletal muscle after exercise, it's important to realize that these microscopic changes lead to some profound functional changes.

1) During conventional weight lifting, muscle force production (strength) is diminished for at least 1 to 3 days after the damage has occurred. This loss of strength, which may take 7-14 days to recover, is most likely due to several factors including the disruption of muscle calcium balance and energy production, the poor recovery of muscle energy during this period, and the decrease in muscle protein content. In addition, this loss of strength can cause you to feel like a 90-lb weakling for several days after exercise. Stay away from the beach for 7-14 days.

2) Muscle swelling, as a result of fluid accumulation and immune cell delivery, occurs almost immediately after exercise. This swelling typically lasts 3-4 days but may take as many as 7 to subside. This swelling is associated with muscle stiffness, decreased range of motion, and an inability to comb your hair after arm day. This means bad hair days for 3-7 days.

3) Everyone's favorite, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), typically lasts from 2-4 days after exercise and is mostly gone within 5 days. This soreness may come as a result of both swelling and stiffness but some scientists now think that biochemical changes in the muscle may increase nerve sensitivity, leading to muscle pain. Sensitivity is one thing but crying is not allowed; in 5 days it will all be over.

4) As discussed above, while the muscle is healing, its ability to "refuel" with carbohydrate is decreased because of disruption of the muscle glucose transport mechanisms. This means that no matter how many carbohydrates you eat, you simply can't get your muscle energy back up to normal for at least 48 hours after exercise. So don't convince yourself that pigging out on pizza and beer will help you recover more quickly from your sore muscles.

So this is a pretty scary picture, huh? Well, although it looks nasty, ultimately (about a 7 -14 days later) the muscle damage stops, the immune system does it's job, muscle energy is replenished, and the muscle fibers are built back up bigger and stronger than before.

I hope you now realize that the only way to get improve your muscle size and muscle strength is to allow adequate recovery time between performing exercises with the same muscle groups. Without adequate recovery of calcium balance, muscle energy, and muscle protein content, your muscle force will be lower with each subsequent workout, thereby reducing the quality of the workout in terms of the weight lifted. This is certainly not the way to get stronger. In addition, unless you wait until full structural recovery occurs, you will simply be destroying the new muscle tissue being formed to replace the damaged tissue.

And this is no way to get bigger.

So how long should one wait between weight lifting bouts using the same body part? Well, based on the recovery data discussed above as well as the detraining data discussed in sidebar #1, it appears that when doing intense weight lifting workouts and letting nature take it's course, a period of 7 or more days may be a good starting point. However each individual may be different. In addition, as discussed in sidebar #2, certain recovery techniques may speed up healing.

A few individualized methods for knowing whether it's time to destroy the legs again are as follows.

Be sure that muscle soreness is completely gone.
2) Be sure that your range of motion has returned.
3) Be sure that your muscle strength is better than it was during the previous workout.
4) For those of you who like to quantify things, you can measure your relaxed muscle circumference before
your training session and wait until the swelling has gone down.
Although I don't think that understanding why you can't get out of bed in the morning after a rough workout makes it any easier to do so, at least you'll now be able to better plan your workouts. This way you will be able to fully recover and your pain will not be in vain.

Detraining (Sidebar #1)

It's no surprise to anyone that a consistent weight-training program produces gains in muscle strength and muscle size. Initially, the strength changes occur as a result of increased neural efficiency. Long term increases in strength are a result of increased muscle mass. These gains in muscle mass occur as a result of changes in muscle protein status. As mentioned, allowing the muscle to fully recover from muscle damage can maximize these adaptations. Although it's difficult to determine exactly how long a muscle needs to fully recover, it is not a good idea to simply wait two weeks before training again. Therefore a fine balance must be reached between waiting until the muscle has recovered and not waiting so long that the muscle becomes detrained.

Detraining is defined as a prolonged period of reduced exercise volume or muscle inactivity. Interestingly, although frequent and intense exercise is needed to yield gains in muscle strength and size, detraining studies have demonstrated that muscle strength and power can be maintained with intense workouts separated by as much as 10-14 days. Other data show that muscle strength actually increases with 8 days of low volume exercise recovery and may even increase during 2- 8 days of complete detraining. In the detraining group, strength was lost only after 8 days of detraining .

It is clear that muscle force production improves with adequate recovery and this may come as a result of full repair of muscle damage and full muscle energy replenishment. This information, coupled with the recovery data discussed earlier, provides more evidence for the idea that approximately 7 days but no more than 10 days should separate intense weight-training workouts for a specific body part.

Recovery Techniques (Sidebar #2)

The normal recovery from weight training induced muscle damage brings with it a host of symptoms including decreased range of motion, increased muscle soreness, muscle stiffness, muscle swelling, and decreased muscle force production. In order to accelerate muscle recovery several recovery techniques have been suggested. These techniques include the following.

1) Light Exercise During Recovery - Research has shown that performing a few sets of light exercise with the sore and damaged muscles may decrease muscle soreness and increase force recovery . Both studies used approximately 50 easily performed submaximal contractions in order to promote this effect.

2) Massage - Research has suggested that muscle soreness can be improved with regular massage therapy, however this modality does not appear to increase blood flow or force recovery.

3) Underwater Warm Jet Massage - One study showed that 20 minutes of underwater jet massage therapy 3x per week might help maintain performance capacity during intense training.

4) Muscle Compression - In one recent study, a few days of continual compression of damaged muscle tissue decreased markers of muscle damage and increased force recovery.

5) Cold Water Immersion - Although few studies have been done with cold water immersion, athletes have reported good results with immersion in cold water for 20 minutes during the recovery period.

Muscle Masochism!, Part 1
by Dr. Lonnie Lowery

Heavy weights. Forced reps. Negatives. They freakin’ hurt. There’s just no denying it. And yet we punish ourselves with these techniques like a bad boy at Mistress Cruella’s House of Pain. Is it because we dig the abuse? Well, maybe. But for most of us, it’s because we know these techniques induce serious growth.

If we all agree that techniques like eccentric contractions ("negatives") induce monster growth, we should, at least, give some thought as to when this growth (or, "anabolism") takes place. Let me ask you straight: do you know how long it takes to rebuild and fully recover from a brutal bout of weight lifting? Or, how long should YOU wait before hitting the iron again? These are fundamental questions, my fellow masochists, which demand attention. They dictate (or at least influence) what and when you eat, how you schedule your weekly training, and even which supplements you might need.

I’m going to clear-up some important issues in this 2-part article by using science, not just personal beliefs. I’ve spent the last three years of my life tucked-away in a lab, looking closely at all manner of biological damage from a bodybuilder’s perspective. (Yeah, I’m that geeky.) As I grew paler and my eyes enlarged from lack of sunlight and I began to look increasingly like a lemur, I’ve found some pretty cool things that are specific to bodybuilding recovery. In particular, markers of muscle damage and physical stress have revealed a pretty clear picture of how — and how long — our bodies recover from lifting. These include hormonal, immune, metabolic, and performance markers that we’ll look at in detail (and yes, John Berardi, with my usual nifty graphs!).

You may not realize the magnitude of the physiologic events that your training buddy sets in motion as he barks "two more reps!" at you. As you lower the bar (perhaps with him bearing down on it for added resistance), you’re not growing, my friends, you’re laying waste to your muscles. Some of the damage is immediate and some your body actually self-inflicts a while later. By 24 to 48 hours post-workout, your muscle tissue looks like Hiroshima (under a microscope) — and irony or ironies, you dropped the bomb on yourself!

You probably already understand much of the hormonal situation surrounding stress. Cortisol is the evil king and you’re his peasant. He’ll use unfair laws like hypermetabolism and muscle catabolizing enzymes to decree that smallness shall reign throughout your kingdom — unless you organize a nutritional coup to take down the bastard. How do you do it? Well, for starters you’ll need to get some carbs in you, both during AND after training. I’ll address these in turn, below.

During your bout with the iron, you’ll need to maintain the right hormonal state for anabolism — let’s say 50 g of carbs sipped from a sports drink or diluted juice 30 minutes into a workout (maybe with 5 g creatine mixed-in). Why wait 30 minutes? Because drinking them earlier in a training session will blunt the exercise-induced GH response. We don’t want that.

Drinking carbs during training won’t help you get leaner, but if size is your goal, it should help keep cortisol and interleukin-6 (IL-6, see below) concentrations down.1,7,8,9,13 Both are catabolic and both can be brought down with the right nutrition. Most lifters think only supplements like phosphatidyl serine (PS) can help reduce cortisol, but now you know that macronutrients alone can help. This is a lesseon well-learned from clinical settings where it’s well known that carbs are "protein sparing" for the body.

After lifting, you’ll need perhaps 50-100 g of high-glycemic-index carbs eaten (or drank) throughout the post-exercise "nutrient window." This phenomenon is well-documented and lasts for about two hours after you leave the gym. Muscle enzymes like glycogen synthase and glucose transporters (primarily the GLUT-4 type) are READY at this time. USE THEM!

This window of opportunity used to be called the "carb window" by many, but recent data show that co-consumption of protein is advantageous, too.11 Here’s your shot at the holy grail of hypertrophy; don’t miss it. If you do, the next few days will be harder on you physically. You’ll likely be more fatigued and recovery will be mediocre.

And before you think I’m obsessed with carbohydrates like most of my fellow exercise physiology and nutrition colleagues, let me re-state that consuming a similar amount of protein with the carbs is also critical to recovery. In the case of protein, however, we’re talking about the provision of muscle "building blocks" but not so much cortisol or IL-6 suppression, so let’s stay on track. Remember, we’re trying to avoid excessive punishment from our training.

My longstanding approach to post-workout recovery meals has included a meal replacement pack with frozen berries blended in. This gets me carbs, 50 g protein, and an antioxidant "berry bonus" with tons of flavor. Of course, when my Surge arrives from Tim or TC (hint hint), I may be altering my post-workout strategy a bit. I have to admit the specific nutrient profile in it intrigues me.

Okay, that’s enough for now on catabolic hormones and donning our nutritional "armor." It’s time to get back into the physiology of muscle growth. Next on our list of catabolic markers is immune function. This is where our self-induced "world of hurt" becomes literal. Usually athletes are surprised when I start talking about how white blood cells are responsible for literally chewing-up muscle. Everyone fixates on cortisol. However, there’s a clear elevation in circulating neutrophils and monocytes as soon as you start hoisting the iron. And it can’t be explained away as a simple function of cardiac output flushing them out of your lungs’ vasculature 10,12 (not that most of you were thinking that!).

Why does this matter? Because, my catabolic compatriots, these little soldiers are drawn to sites of muscular damage like bodybuilders are drawn to the smell of a cooking steak. It’s a process called chemotaxis. Eccentric exercise appears particularly good at calling them hither.10,12 Those exercise-damaged muscle fibers tear and the resulting fragments need to be engulfed just as if they were any other antigen (e.g. bacteria, viruses).

Take a close look at the muscle fibers in the microscope pic I’ve provided. That’s really what happens. They’re toast! Once the neutrophils and monocytes arrive, it’s a buffet of human tissue — but relax, it’s part of the repair process. We can’t construct a bigger building without clearing away rubble from the site first, can we? The problem is that these white blood cells, having infiltrated the muscle, tend to over-clean, engulfing ("phagocytizing") protein fragments and secreting oxidants and other catabolic compounds including interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and even bleach!2,5,12 Remember they’re soldiers, baby, and ready for war. Unfortunately this may be a case of "friendly fire" — when all we need is a janitor and not an immune system version of John Rambo.

As I mentioned, there are two primary types of white cells that are part of the damage-and-repair process in muscle. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell, or "leukocyte" that arrive on the scene first. Check out the figure that shows a prominent increase in white cells within two hours after eccentric, damaging exercise. About 60% of these bad boys are neutrophils. They’re showing up in the blood samples I collected in part because they’re on their way to the battlefield. They’re the alpha team and they’re about to secure the beach for some heavy hitters. Not until about five days after a brutal bout with the iron — at a time when your soreness has subsided — do the monocytes really appear. I’ve observed their delayed journey toward the muscles with repeated blood sampling over five-day recovery periods.5 (See figure.) Others have seen them leave the blood vessels at this same time and show up among the still recovering muscle fibers.2

After entering the tissues many transform into "macrophages." They’re the biggest eaters of human flesh in a healthy body and they can hang around for months. But are they there just to punish you? Well, their role is still being investigated ‘cause it makes little sense that our bodies would still be cleaning up mucle fragment mess so far into the recovery period. Can you imagine scheduling your training around such a time frame? Pecs every 10-30 days? Legs once per month? Not realistic. The only solid conclusion that I can make at this point is simply to respect their catabolic capacity and try to reduce any overzealous munching.

What exactly, then, can we do to ease the aggression of these white cells? I mean, didn’t Yoda teach that aggression and hatred will suck us toward the Dark Side or something? As in the case with cortisol and IL-6, there are a few things that can be done nutritionally. Shying away from omega-6 fatty acids (like linoleic acid in corn, sunflower, "vegetable", and even soybean oil) can help reduce the inflammation and perhaps interleukin response.3, 4, 5, 6 Go for omega-3s and monounsaturates whenever possible. I can’t overstate how important a switch toward more fish oil, flax and olive oil really is. (See Fat Roundtable by John Berardi).

And we’ll also need to get our share of antioxidants from fruits and veggies. Mom was right. Foods really are often better sources because the phytochemicals work together in as yet unknown ratios and combinations. Still, a 400 IU vitamin E, a 250 mg vitamin C, and some beta carotene or herbal antioxidants may help too. In essence, these nutrients could reduce the caliber of white cell’s ammo from "cannon ball" to "tennis ball"; remember, a primary weapon of white cells is secretion of oxidants.

(If you’re interested, I wrote a book chapter on the subject with John Berardi and Tim Ziegenfuss. It’s in the upcoming text, Sports Supplements from Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins (Antonio and Stout Eds.). Even though I will financially make "double goose eggs" from the sale of the book, it still deserves a plug. The authors are practically a "who’s who" of modern bodybuilding supplement authorities. Contact me for more einformation if you’re into it.)

Let’s wrap up this white cell thing. Admittedly, I’ve been less than straight with you up to this point. It’s time to disclose. Luckily, after a period of a few days, these white blood cell soldiers become medics, secreting growth factors that help rebuild the damaged area bigger than ever before.2,5 This could be a reason for the delayed onset of monocyte infiltration. Maybe they’re more medic than monster after all. It’s also interesting that the lingering presence of neutrophils and monocytes among muscle fibers may prepare them for your next punishing workout. Remember, growth factors don’t just come from a needle! I’ve spent extra time on this immune function thing to make a point. With all the obsession over androgen pharmacology, you may never have heard of exercise immunology and the ways you can manipulate it to GROW. Well now you have.

And so ends part one of our odyssey into muscle recovery. We’ve seen masochists, evil kings, and psychotic soldiers. Ahh, physiology is a messy, painful and beautiful thing. In summary (and being just a tad more literal), we’ve covered a five-day recovery phase (often called the "acute phase response"), focusing on catabolic hormones and immunology. And, just so we’re not simply left feeling the sting of the physiologic cat-o-nine tails, we’ve also discussed nutritional strategies to hasten recovery. It’s critical, for example, to eat as soon as you get home from the gym.

But there’s more to learn. There are other markers of catabolism that bodybuilders experience which show rather clearly that we are voluntary whipping boys. We’ve only scratched the surface, especially regarding things that you, the reader, can measure for yourself! Tune in to Part Two of Muscle Masochism to find out.

Muscle Masochism!, Part 2
by Dr. Lonnie Lowery

Part 1 of Dr. Lowery’s article addressed muscle damage from a microscopic perspective, looking at the physiological and immunological after effects of busting your butt in the gym. It also gave some nutritional remedies to cure the effects of all that ass busting.

Part 2 continues to look at muscle catabolism, in addition to giving you methods by which to conduct fiendish laboratory-like experiments on yourself! Most importantly, though, the article gives you information that you can apply to your training, and how often do you get that from a science article?

Ever been so ROCKED from squatting that it was hard to make it up the stairs — even with the handrail? How about so torched through your pecs and shoulders that you could barely put on your headphones? If so, this article is for masochists like you.

After a punishing workout, catabolic substances in your body like interleukin-6 (IL-6), cortisol and white cell-created oxidants (O) need to be brought down with specifically-timed nutrition. If you can make it through to the second phase of recovery, growth factors (GF) start to kick in and work alongside anabolic hormones to induce new growth. Let’s review with a graph, shall we?

But there are other markers of catabolism that bodybuilders experience that show rather clearly that we are, in effect, voluntary whipping boys. Some are laboratory-only measures and others you can measure yourself! Let’s begin with a curious lab phenomenon.

On one of those late nights sifting through data in the lab (and daydreaming again about those pics of Amy Fadhli that TC occasionally posts with his editorials), I noticed that the metabolic rate of injury and trauma patients was severely elevated. Injury? Trauma? I’d been seeing this in my bodybuilding subjects — were they hypermetabolic, too? If so, the current popular calorie recommendations would be sub-par for stimulating muscle growth.

I rounded up some subjects, got them running downhill on a treadmill (a weird but brutally effective way of inducing eccentric muscle damage), and hooked them up to a metabolic cart every morning for five days thereafter. Despite wicked muscle enzyme release (indicative of trauma) and soreness off the charts, I saw no significant hypermetabolism.(6) Maybe the exercise wasn’t severe enough to mimic clinical trauma, ‘cause others have indeed found this.(2) I believe that if the trauma is severe enough, hypermetabolism during recovery can sap calories needed for growth. If you punish yourself in an effort to gain weight, it’s all the more reason to get aggressive at the dinner table.

Here’s a time-honored trick: try taking your pulse first thing in the morning before your coffee or even sitting up in bed. Elevated heart rate is generally related to elevated metabolism.

High basal levels of stress hormones and physical injury may raise resting heart rate. It’s hardly a thoroughly validated and accurate assessment tool but few "field measures" are. It’s just one more piece of information.

Body temperature has also been used to assess metabolic rate at home, but tympanic (ear) thermometers are sucky indicators of elevated core temperature. And since you’re not about to jam a rectal probe up your backside like they do in the lab, let’s just assume that humans are "homeotherms" and usually adjust to hold that nice 37-degree C body temperature.

Yet another measurement on our list of at-home assessments of muscle damage is swelling. How the heck does one measure that? How ‘bout with a simple tape measure. It’s well established in the scientific literature that limb girth is a reasonably sensitive way to assess swelling and "edema" (fluid accumulation). Just wait a day or two after lifting; measure too soon and your "pump" will invalidate this measure. The principle is pretty basic: the more damage, the greater the arm or leg girth.

To do this properly, you’ll need to know the "anatomical landmarks" so you can measure a limb in exactly the same place pre- and post-exercise. For the arm, it’s the midpoint between the acromio-clavicular joint (trap-deltoid area) and the olecranon (tip) of the elbow. Find your "A-C joint" by palpating (feeling around) for the notch where your humerus (upper arm bone) meets your clavicle (bone connecting your neck with your shoulder). If you’re huge, this might be tough. It’s at the very top of your deltoid. Mark it with a pen. Then hold your arm at a 90o angle to find the bony tip of your elbow. Have a buddy connect the two anatomical landmarks with a tape measure and, looking from the side, mark the half-way point in centimeters. This is where he’ll wrap the tape measure horizontally (parallel with the floor) for the reading.

You must let the arm hang relaxed, unbent and un-flexed, at your side while he reads it. Measuring your (relaxed) thigh is similar, just use the mid point between your proximal patella (upper knee cap) and inguinal crease (where your thigh meets your body) and measure the mid-point from the front rather than side of the body. C’mon, you know you’ve done something similar to this to show everyone how huge you are. (You freaking "tape worm"!) This is just done for a different reason.

Okay, back to the lab. Although my specific protocol didn’t induce injury-like hypermetabolism, it did cause something strange: A steady shift in metabolic fuel mix towards carb use. This rise in respiratory exchange ratio (RER) came out of nowhere and I still welcome any explanations that T-mag readers might have.

I thought it might be cortisol elevation (it’s a glucocorticoid that increases glycogen use) but I wasn’t able to detect a significant rise in this hormone. Maybe it was due to those multiplying pesky white cells (monocytes). Take a closer look at the monocyte figure in Part I of this article. See how similar the line is to the one on the graph (above)? Both rise steadily and peak on Day 5 after exercise. Could it be that these almost identical time courses have a causal relationship? What in Joe Weider’s name could those monocytes be doing to waste-away your precious carb reserves?

Whatever the reason for the shift toward carb reliance, it seems doubly punishing. Monocytes are going nuts, potentially chewing up your muscles at a time when these very fibers are also being depleted to sustain metabolism. Think about it. An athlete with chronically damaged muscle fibers can’t take up blood glucose and pack it away as glycogen very well. (3,7) At the same time, you’re using-up your "warehouse" (muscle carb stores) AND getting assaulted by monocytes. Can anyone say FLAT? Just at a time when our muscles can’t replenish their carb stores, they’re rifling through what little they have!

Tell me that you’ve never felt fuller and more vascular after taking a week off from your usual punishing routine. These observations lead me to believe that there are specific times when carbs must be eaten and others when they should be reduced. The same goes for other nutrients; but that’s mostly another story….

Now let’s discuss performance variables. Who knows what happens to strength after hitting a few sets of heavy negatives… Bueller? ….Bueller? It plummets, doesn’t it? Look at the figure from a study I performed last year. It shows a significant strength drop of 10-14% after negative training:

To illustrate the performance decrement from your masochism in the gym, consider this: a drop of just 10% would be 30 pounds off your max 300 pound bench press! An acquaintance of mine, Marty Gibala (a prof up in Toronto now), has corroborated this data, showing more microtrauma and longer recovery periods from eccentric training.(5)

Why the hell would anyone step back into the gym when I’m showing you right freaking here that you probably won’t be ready to handle max poundage? You can measure this yourself if you keep a training log. Observe and record, baby — that’s what science is. Be a scientist and you’ll be able to correct and adjust to reach your genetic potential. Do you require a full seven days off before you’re pushing big weights again? So be it. Tell your overzealous training buddy to stick it! You won’t de-train within a week. Otherwise keep spinning your (overtrained, over-sore) wheels and barely gain a pound.

I personally train a muscle group every five to seven days. Any sooner means I’ll be handling sub-par poundage. Not an option. Besides, training a specific muscle group sooner than this just places additional stress on your body when it’s struggling to replenish muscle fullness (glycogen stores) and is still feeling the pinch of "monocytosis".

And yet the gyms are full of tough guys benching Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Ask your self this: are you a "hard gainer" or simply a masochist who can’t stay away from the House of Pain?

Okay, last up: muscle soreness. You pain-lovers are intimately connected to it. It’s the theme of this article. You welcome it as a sign of growth and progress. Me too. But can it be used as a physique assessment tool like the other things we’ve covered? Stick with me, baby, and we’ll be using these "tools" like Tim Taylor on ephedrine!

Check out the graph on perceived soreness after eccentric exercise. I’ve been using different scales with various kinds of punishing exercises but this is a good example.

We can quantify soreness two ways. One is to use "operational definitions." You know, assigning descriptors to explain increasing scores on a scale. For example, a scale based on data from Abraham (1977) is: 0 = no soreness, 1 = barely perceivable soreness, 2 = extreme soreness, 3 = soreness so intense as to interfere with daily activities. But there are also more arbitrary 1-10 scales that have their advantages. Most everyone can make judgments that their legs are "a nine on a 10 scale" or their chest is "90% as sore as the worst ever."

Why bother attaching numbers to soreness? Because we can then get averages, peaks and "valleys" across the course of a week or during a new training regime — or when we review the causes of recent weight gain. You may find that months when soreness is high (and you’re recovering adequately), you gain the most weight. This self-assessment works even better if you perform girth measures (above) along with it. More damage equals more subsequent growth, if you wait long enough between training sessions.

Admittedly there’s some debate over what "optimum" soreness is. My colleague Tim Z thinks I go too far in the weight room (weight-wise) and that pulling back on the reins should result in better recovery. I just can’t train that way, though. I tend to think it’s best to go ballistic, then rest adequately. It probably depends on one’s body type. My whole family consists of short, "fireplug" type people; one sister was a gymnast, one (the surgeon) is a bodybuilder, my bother (the "Yeti") and I gravitated toward the iron and power sports, too. Perhaps thinner dudes like "Z" couldn’t recover from such abuse… not that his multiple sets of 10-12 reps with 275 in the squat are a joke. From a glycogen depletion and energy-expenditure viewpoint, his lighter, more voluminous approach is even more taxing than my negatives in the 90-120% of max range. I wonder, people, how do you train?

Anyhow, by assigning numbers to my soreness each day and doing a little analysis, I can figure things out systematically. In the lab, for example, I know that by 24 hours into recovery, there’s already significant soreness that correlates with poor dietary carb use.(7) Outside the lab it can be used by those patient enough to include it in their training logs. It’s how you can assess when you’re ready to go train a body part again.

If you’re not into numbers, simply wait one to two days AFTER your soreness is gone. Although debated by some, it’s a reasonable tool for creating training regimes. Of course, adding numbers (making the information "quantitative") is best; it’s what takes the guesswork out of your lifting.

The take-home message is this: If you punish yourself under the iron, now you have a few ways to actually measure the magnitude and duration of your trauma. I’ve shared some things that I’ve done in the lab because they have "real world" applicability. Go beyond the scale and take control of your progress! The period of greatest "trauma" seems to be 24-72 hours (1-3 days) post-exercise, if you use negatives as part of your torture sessions.

See if measurements ("variables") like resting heart rate, limb girth (swelling), fatigue and strength tests are improved by eating ASAP after your training sessions. Of course, there are no guarantees that these methods will steer you toward new growth (nothing is 100% certain in science), but the data don’t lie. These measurement tools offer that little bit of extra information that could help you. Hey, my motto is "An informed decision is always better than an ignorant one." But then again, you could always go back to your "tough guy" Monday, Wednesday, Friday benching routine and wonder why you never get any bigger.

We’ve also reviewed certain lab techniques using repeated blood sampling and metabolic charts to shed some light on the mechanisms behind your painful recovery. If that sounds like something from a car wreck victim’s medical charts, you’re right. The very same "acute phase reactions" take place. I’ve seen it repeatedly. They’re less severe in magnitude, of course, but they are there. Bet you never thought you were THAT brutal on yourself. Do yourself a favor and give your struggling body a chance to heal with the carefully timed nutrition and recovery time frames we’ve discussed. Remember, the battle is raging long after you’ve left the gym.

The Importance of Post Workout Nutrition
By John M Berardi

Invest Your Time Wisely
You don't need to be a resource management specialist to know that time is the most valuable finite resource that you have. And as you well know, there's a very limited amount of it to go around. So if you're smart, you'll figure out ways to get the greatest return on the investment of your time.

While this may be well recognized and applied in many aspects of modern life, it confuses me as to why people seem to ignore this when it comes to their exercise training. From what I see on a daily basis, it's clear to me that most people in the gym are wasting their time investment. They're spending precious hours engaged in strength or endurance training programs that yield little or no results? Need proof? When was the last time someone in your gym made any noticeable physical progress? In fact, when was the last time that you made any significant physical progress? Exercise training has the potential to yield huge returns on any given time investment. Isn't it a shame that most people don't ever see this magnitude of return?

Despite this disappointing reality, I'm here to tell you that hope is not lost. In fact, there's a very easy way to capitalize on your investment. You see, in most cases the exercise is not the problem. The problem is that people fail to invest in the other important commodity that, in combination with exercise, yields the biggest returns. They're buying the cart without the horse, the lemonade stand without the lemonade. They're spending their time focused on only the exercise program while ignoring the importance of a sound nutritional program.

Now I could write a dozen articles focused on straightening out the nutritional problems of the world. But those articles are for another day. In this article today, I intend to focus on what is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of exercise nutrition - eating during the post-workout period. The knowledge of how to eat during this time will maximize your efforts in the gym and yield the biggest returns on your time investment.

Remodeling and The Post-Workout Period
Exercise, both strength and endurance training, is responsible for countless health and aesthetic benefits. However the exercise itself is a significant physiological stressor. Perceived symptoms of this "stress" are often mild and include muscle soreness, the need for extra sleep, and an increased appetite. These symptoms let us know that the exercise has depleted the muscle's fuel resources, caused some minor damage, and that the muscle is in need of replenishment and repair. While the words depletion and damage may sound like negative things, they're not if they only stick around for a short period of time. You see, these changes allow the muscle to adapt by getting better at the exercise demands placed on it. Therefore if you're doing endurance exercise, the muscle will become depleted and damaged in the short run, but in the long run it will super compensate, building itself up to be a better aerobic machine. And if strength training is your thing, you'll tear down you're weaker muscle fibers in favor of building up bigger, stronger ones. In all cases, exercise essentially tears down old, less adapted muscle in order to rebuild more functional muscle. This phenomenon is called remodeling.

While the remodeling process is much more complex than I can describe here, it's important for me to emphasize that this remodeling only takes place if the muscle is provided the right raw materials. If I plan on remodeling my home I can hire a guy to tear down a couple of walls, a guy to clean up the mess, and a guy to come in and rebuild better walls than the ones that came down. But if I don't give that guy any bricks, how's he going to get anything done? If I don't give him the bricks, all I'll have in the end is a much smaller, unfinished house.

The same holds true with exercise remodeling. In particular, during the exercise bout and immediately following it, exercise breaks down our muscle carbohydrate stores and our muscle protein structures. Then, the immune system comes in to clean up the mess. And finally, signals are generated to tell the body to rebuild. However, as I hope you can now see, without the proper protein and carbohydrate raw materials, this building can't take place. You'll be left with muscles that never reach their potential.

So with this analogy, I hope it's obvious that this post-exercise period is not a time to take lightly. Remember, you spent a significant amount of time in the gym breaking down the muscle for a good reason. You want it to be better adapted to future demands. So to realize full return on your time investment, you need to give the body the raw materials it needs, namely protein and carbohydrates.

Feeding Hungry Muscles
As I mentioned earlier, all trainees (male or female), regardless of their chosen mode of exercise, must take their post-exercise nutrition seriously in order to provide the muscle with the raw materials it needs. As all types of exercise use carbohydrates for energy, muscle carbohydrate depletion is inevitable. Therefore a post-workout meal high in carbohydrates is required to refill muscle carbohydrate/energy stores. However any ol' amount of carbohydrates will not do. You need to consume enough carbohydrates to promote a substantial insulin release. Insulin is the hormone responsible for shuttling carbohydrates and amino acids into the muscle. In doing this, carbohydrate resynthesis is accelerated and protein balance becomes positive, leading to rapid repair of the muscle tissue. Therefore, by consuming a large amount of carbohydrates, you will promote a large insulin release, increase glycogen storage, and increase protein repair. Research has shown that a carbohydrate intake of 0.8 to 1.2 grams per 1 kilogram of body weight maximizes glycogen synthesis and accelerates protein repair. However, unless you've had a very long, intense workout, 1.2g/kg may be a bit excessive as excess carbohydrate can be converted to bodyfat. Therefore I recommend 0.8g of carbohydrate per 1 kilogram of body weight for speeding up muscle carbohydrate replenishment while preventing excess fat gain (van Loon et al 2000a).

In addition, since muscle protein is degraded during exercise, the addition of a relatively large amount of protein to your post exercise meal is necessary to help rebuild the structural aspects of the muscle. After exercise, the body decreases its rate of protein synthesis and increases its rate of protein breakdown. However, the provision of protein and amino acid solutions has been shown to reverse this trend, increasing protein synthesis and decreasing protein breakdown. Researchers have used anywhere from 0.2g - 0.4g of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight to demonstrate the effectiveness of adding protein to a post-workout carbohydrate drink (van Loon et al 2000b, Roy et al 1998). As an increased consumption of the essential amino acids may lead to a more positive protein balance, 0.4g/kg may be better than 0.2g/kg.

While your post-workout feeding should be rich protein and carbohydrate, this meal should be fat free. The consumption of essential fats is one of the most overlooked areas of daily nutritional intake but during the post workout period, eating fat can actually decrease the effectiveness of your post-workout beverage. Since fat slows down transit through the stomach, eating fat during the post workout period may slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins. As your post workout feeding should be designed to promote the most rapid delivery of carbohydrates and protein to your depleted muscles, fats should be avoided during this time.

Finally, another important factor to consider is the timing of this meal. It is absolutely crucial that you consume your post-workout meal immediately after exercise. As indicated above, after exercise, the muscles are depleted and require an abundance of protein and carbohydrate. In addition, during this time, the muscles are biochemically "primed" for nutrient uptake. This phenomenon is commonly known as the "window of opportunity". Over the course of the recovery period, this window gradually closes and by failing to eat immediately after exercise, you diminish your chances of promoting full recovery. To illustrate how quickly this window closes, research has shown that consuming a post-exercise meal immediately after working out is superior to consuming one only 1 hour later. In addition, consuming one 1 hour later is superior to consuming one 3 hours later (Tipton et al 2001, Levenhagen et al 2001). If you wait too long, glycogen replenishment and protein repair will be compromised.

In conclusion, when you decided to start exercising you decided to give up a specific amount of time per week in the interest of getting better, physically. However, if you haven't spent the necessary time thinking about post-exercise nutrition, you're missing much of the benefit that comes with exercising. I assure you that once you start paying attention to this variable in the recovery equation, your time in the gym will be much better invested.

Whole Food vs. Nutritional Supplementation
Anchored firmly atop their calorie-counting soapbox, nutritionists have traditionally asserted that whole food always trumps supplemental nutrition. For them I have only one sentiment:

Always…it is a meaningless word. -Oscar Wilde

While I wholeheartedly believe that complete, unbleached, untreated, and unprocessed whole food should form the basis of any sound nutritional regimen, there are some instances in which supplements can actually be superior to whole food. In the case of post-exercise nutrition, I believe that liquid supplemental nutrition is far superior to whole food for the following reasons.

Liquid meals are palatable and digestible
Typically, after intense exercise, most people complain that eating a big meal is difficult. This is understandable as the exercise stress creates a situation where the hunger centers are all but shut down. However, as you now know, it's absolutely critical that you eat if you want to remodel the muscle, enlarge the muscle, or recover from the exercise. Fortunately liquid supplemental formulas are palatable, easy to consume, and can be quite nutrient dense, providing all the nutrition you need at this time. In addition, since these formulas are structurally simple (I'll save the biochemistry for another article), the gastrointestinal tract has no difficulty processing them. Your stomach will thank you for this.

Liquid meals have a fast absorption profile, whole food is just too slow
The latest research has demonstrated that liquid supplemental formulas containing fast digesting protein (whey hydrolysates and isolates) and carbohydrates (dextrose and maltodextrin) are absorbed more quickly than whole food meals. To put this into perspective, a liquid post-exercise formula may be fully absorbed within 30 to 60 minutes, providing much needed muscle nourishment by this time. However, a slower digesting solid food meal may take 2 to 3 hours to fully reach the muscle.

Liquid meals take advantage of the "window of opportunity", whole foods may miss it

The faster the protein and carbohydrates get to the muscle, the better your chances for muscle building and recovery. Current research has demonstrated that subjects receiving nutrients within one hour after exercise recover more quickly than subjects receiving nutrients three hours after exercise. Liquid nutrition is making more sense, isn't it?

Liquid meals are better for nutrient targeting
During the post exercise period, specific nutrients maximize your recovery. These include an abundance of water, high glycemic index carbohydrates, and certain amino acids (in specific ratios). It's also best to avoid fat during this time. So the only way to ensure that these nutrients are present in the right amounts is to formulate a specific liquid blend. Whole foods may miss the mark.

Post-Exercise Choices
So your workout is over and it's time to reach for your post workout meal. What do you reach for? Here are a few examples of good post-workout choices in order of effectiveness.

1) A specifically formulated recovery drink

1 serving Biotest Surge - (305 calories) - 25g Protein, 50g Carbohydrate, 0.5g Fat

2) A homemade recovery drink

1 serving whey protein + 2 servings Gatorade - (369 calories) - 25g protein, 66g Carbohydrate, 0.5g Fat

3) A whole food recovery meal

12 oz of skim milk + 1 serving Vector - (358 calories) - 18g protein, 65g Carbohydrate, 2.8g Fat

The Science of Nutrient Timing — Part 1
by John M Berardi

James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise believed that space was the "final frontier," an undiscovered territory full of strange new worlds, new life, and new civilizations. So they set out to "boldly go where no man has gone before."

Following the lead of Kirk and his crew, a new crop of nutrition and exercise scientists has begun an exploration of their own, set against the backdrop of human physiology. Here on earth, nutrition and exercise scientists have suggested that the "final frontier" of the muscle-building realm is "nutrient timing." And while the science of "nutrient timing" is nowhere near as exciting as beaming Mudd’s women aboard your vessel, put it to good use and your physique might just land you a few sultry females from this galaxy.

What Is Nutrient Timing?

With respect to manipulating body composition and athletic performance, traditional nutritionists have spent much of their time figuring out how much to eat and to a smaller extent, what to eat. Of course, both of these approaches have immense value. Although a myriad of factors affect energy balance (more than can be understood by a simple appraisal of how much you eat and how much you exercise; see Hungry, Hungry Hormones Part I for a more complete picture), the laws or thermodynamics are the most important determinants of weight gain and weight loss. Therefore, how much we eat is critical in altering our body composition (and, indirectly, our performance).

But conventional thermodynamic approaches tell just a portion of the story. After all, very few people would benefit from focusing exclusively on weight gain or weight loss. Rather, the focus should be on the composition of the gain or loss. If you’re losing equal amounts of fat and muscle when in "negative energy balance" or gaining equal amounts of fat and muscle when in "positive energy balance," you’re probably not taking advantage of the full spectrum of nutrition and exercise information available.

Although this might be a bit of an oversimplification of a very complex topic, in some ways the thermodynamic approach of measuring calories in vs. calories out may simply maintain the body shape status quo. If you’ve got the right genetics, the calorie in vs. calorie out approach will probably be all you need to look good nekid at any body size (bigger or smaller). But, if not, simply counting calories will probably just make you a bigger or smaller version of your former self (and if you’re unhappy with that shape, you wont necessarily like it at a bigger or smaller size).

To address some of these limitations of the thermodynamic or "calorie balance" approaches, scientists recognized the value of studying the effects of food selection on body composition changes (for more on this concept, see Lean Eatin’ 1 and Lean Eatin’ 2). While this line of investigation is in its relative infancy, it’s becoming clear that there’s something to this whole food-type thing. Despite what naysayers claim, once energy balance is accounted for, some carbohydrates are better than others. Likewise, some proteins are better than others and some fats better than others. Therefore, by choosing your food wisely, even if you’re eating the same number of calories each day, you can upregulate your metabolism, shift your hormonal profile, and alter the composition of your weight gain and weight loss (not to mention reap the health benefits of a better diet composition).

As you can see, the science of what to eat has added to the how much to eat picture and advanced our understanding of body composition manipulation. By recognizing the laws of thermodynamics and eating accordingly we can set the stage for weight loss or weight gain. And by choosing our foods wisely, we wield the power to take control of what types of gains and losses we’ll see. In some respects, the science of what to eat has given us the power to transcend some of our genetic "inclinations" (i.e. overall body shape).

While the how much to eat and what to eat approaches offer a ton of great nutrition information, one newly emerging area of research, "nutrient timing," has begun to demonstrate that manipulating the time dimension can further assist in taking control of our body composition and athletic performance. In this way, nutrient timing, or the science of when to eat, is becoming an important part of nutritional planning.

What’s So Special About When We Eat?

To the average person who’s not exercising, the principles of nutrient timing aren’t very important. Sure, glucose tolerance/insulin sensitivity is altered during the course of a day but these changes probably aren’t critical to determining one’s dietary needs. For these individuals, what and how much they eat is the most important thing. While nutrient timing isn’t critical to the average person, its importance must not be underestimated in the athlete (including team sport athletes, endurance athletes, and weight trainers).

In the book, "Nutrient Timing" (a book I also contributed to), Drs. John Ivy and Robert Portman make a great comment about the current state of sports nutrition practice. In this book they highlight the fact that as scientists began to learn about the nutritional needs of athletes/weightlifters (i.e. higher energy needs and the benefits of additional protein ingestion), a "bulk nutrition" concept was adopted in which athletes began to believe things like "if protein is good, then more protein must be better." (You don’t know anyone like that, do you?) In other words, when many athletes find out that something is "good," they try to get lots of it. And when many athletes find out that something is "bad," they try to avoid it at all costs.

Unfortunately this is nothing more than a combination of the how much to eat and what to eat approaches discussed above. Combine that with a very naive good vs. bad approach to food and you’ve got a recipe for sub-optimal nutritional intake. After all, very few foods are always good or always bad (well, I can think of a few…). This is certainly unfortunate for two reasons. First, much of the current science is pointing to the fact that if you train regularly, the body is primed for fat gain or fat loss just as it’s primed for muscle gain or muscle loss during specific times of the day. Add in the wrong foods at the wrong times and you’re sabotaging your efforts in the gym. Add the right foods and your efforts are given a giant boost. Secondly, although some foods are not optimal during certain times of the day (i.e. sugar), some of these same foods can actually be very beneficial during other times of the day (such as the post workout period).

Throwing aside the oversimplification inherent in the bulk nutrition concept, let’s now get down to the nuts and bolts of optimal nutrient timing. Since I was a consultant in the development of the book, I’m going to go ahead and take the liberty of borrowing from some of Drs. Ivy and Portman’s nomenclature. In the book, the authors refer to three critical times of the day in which nutrient timing takes on a greater importance. These times are known as the Energy Phase, The Anabolic Phase, and The Growth Phase. Since I like these distinctions, I’ll use them here. However, I’ll add another phase that I call, somewhat in jest, The Rest of

The Day Phase
Nutrient Timing — The Energy Phase

The Energy Phase is called this because this phase occurs during the workout when energy demands are highest. As you probably know, the energy used by skeletal muscle is ATP. This ATP is formed and resynthesized by macronutrients from the diet so carbs, proteins, and fats contribute indirectly to the energy of muscle contraction. Therefore, the high rates of energy demand during exercise are met by ingested nutrients and/or stored nutrients (the ratio depends on your feeding schedule). This breakdown of nutrients, while completely necessary, is, by definition, catabolic. As such, the workout period, as I’ve addressed in the past (see Precision Nutrition), is marked by a number of anabolic and catabolic effects.

Anabolic Effects Of Acute Exercise

Catabolic Effects Of Acute Exercise

Increased Skeletal Muscle Blood Flow

Glycogen Depletion

Increased Anabolic Hormone Release

(GH, Testosterone, IGF-1)

Decreased Net Protein Balance

Acute Phase Response Resolution

Increased Cortisol Concentrations

Decreased Insulin Concentrations

Acute Phase Response Breakdown

Increased Metabolic Rate

Dehydration (Endurance or Intermittent Exercise in Heat)

While these phenomena are nothing new and have been shown to occur during most types of exercise/training, what is new is the idea that targeted nutritional intake can actually shift the anabolic/catabolic balance during exercise, enhancing some of the anabolic effects while minimizing some of the catabolic effects (1; 4; 10; 11; 17).

To give you an example, a protein/carbohydrate supplement (like Biotest’s Surge) ingested immediately prior to exercise (or sipped during exercise) can actually increase skeletal muscle blood flow. Since this drink not only enhances blood flow but stocks that blood up with amino acids and glucose, the protein balance of the muscle will be shifted toward the positive and glycogen depletion will be significantly reduced. In addition, those amino acids and glucose units, independent of their effects on muscle protein and glycogen status, can also lead to a decrease in cortisol concentrations and improve the overall immune response (part of the acute phase response listed above and described in detail in the Precision Nutrition article).

Of course, if the aforementioned supplement is in a liquid form and is sipped during the exercise bout (as recommended), dehydration, a potent performance killer in both strength and endurance athletes, can be staved off as well. That’s not too shabby for a little ol’ protein/carbohydrate drink, eh?

The When, What and How Much of the Energy Phase

When examining the science of nutrient timing in detail, it becomes clear that one of the key "when to eat" times of the day is during the Energy Phase or during the workout. Of course, in focusing on when to eat, I’m in no way suggesting we should neglect considering what and how much to eat. In fact, they’re probably your next two questions so let’s get to them right away.

As indicated above, during the Energy Phase it’s important to ingest some protein and carbohydrate. In my experience the easiest way to do this is to drink an easily digested liquid carbohydrate and protein drink. This drink should probably consist of a well-diluted (a 6-10% solution — meaning 60-100g of powder for every 1L of water) combination of glucose, maltodextrin, and whey protein/hydrolyzed whey protein. Dilution is important, especially if you are an endurance athlete or if you’re training in a hot environment. If you don’t dilute your drink appropriately, you may not replenish your body’s water stores at an optimal rate (9; 12).

Now that we know when to eat and what to eat, let’s figure out how much. Unfortunately this isn’t as easy to answer. How much to eat really has a lot to do with how much energy you’re expending during the exercise bout, how much you’re eating the rest of the day, whether your primary interest is gaining muscle mass or losing fat mass, and a number of other factors. For a simple answer, however, I suggest starting out by sipping 0.8g of carbohydrate/kg and 0.4g of protein/kg diluted in somewhere around 1L of water (5; 17-20). For you 220lb guys, that means 80g of carbohydrate and 40g of protein during training. This, of course, is the nutrient make-up of Surge.

Nutrient Timing - The Anabolic Phase

The Anabolic Phase occurs immediately after the workout and lasts about an hour or two. This phase is titled "anabolic" because it’s during this time that the muscle cells are primed for muscle building. Interestingly, although the cells are primed for muscle building, in the absence of a good nutritional strategy, this phase can remain catabolic.

Without adequate nutrition, the period immediately after strength and endurance training is marked by a net muscle catabolism; that’s right, after exercise muscles continue to break down. Now, if you’re asking yourself how this can be, you’re asking the right question. After all, training (especially weight training) makes you bigger, not smaller. And even if you’re an endurance athlete, your muscles don’t exactly break down either. So how can exercise be so catabolic?

Well, for starters, as I’ve written before, while the few hours after exercise induce a net catabolic state (although protein synthesis does increase after exercise, so does breakdown), it’s later in the recovery cycle that the body begins to shift toward anabolism (8; 14). So we typically break down for some time after the workout and then start to build back up later (whether that "build up" is in muscle size or in muscle quality).

However, with this said, there are new data showing that with the right nutritional intervention (protein and carbohydrate supplementation), we can actually repair and improve muscle size or quality during and immediately after exercise (16; 17). And the best part is that if we do the nutrition thing right, not only do we start repairing muscle during and after exercise, we continue to alter muscle size and/or quality later on as well (16). For more on what happens during the postexercise period, check out my articles Solving the Post-Workout Puzzle 1 and Solving the Post Workout Puzzle 2.

The When, What and How Much of the Anabolic Phase

From now on, when planning your nutritional intake, you’d better consider both the Energy and Anabolic phases as two of the key "whens" of nutrient timing. Therefore, to maximize your muscle gain and recovery, you’ll be feeding both during and immediately after exercise. Again we come to what and how much.

As indicated above, during the Anabolic Phase it’s important to ingest some protein and carbohydrate. Just like with the Energy Phase, in my experience the easiest way to do this is to drink an easily digested liquid carbohydrate and protein drink. This drink should probably consist of a well-diluted (a 6-10% solution — meaning 60-100g of powder for every 1L of water) combination of glucose, maltodextrin, and whey protein/hydrolyzed whey protein.

While dilution, in this case, isn’t as important for rehydration because you’ve stopped exercising and presumably, sweating, you’re now diluting to prevent gastrointestinal distress. I won’t go to far into detail here — just take my word for it. You must dilute.

Now that we know when to eat and what to eat, let’s figure out how much. Just like with the Energy Phase, how much to eat really has a lot to do with how much energy you’re expending during the exercise bout, how much you’re eating the rest of the day, whether your primary interest is gaining muscle mass or losing fat mass, and a number of other factors. However, just like with the Energy Phase, a simple suggestion is to start out by sipping another serving of 0.8g of carbohydrate/kg and 0.4g of protein/kg diluted in somewhere around 1L of water (5; 17-20).

If you add up the basic suggestions from the Energy Phase and the Anabolic Phase, you’ll find that I’ve recommended about 1.6g of carbohydrate/kg and 0.8g of protein/kg in total. For a 220lb guy, that’s a total of 160g carbohydrate and 80g of protein during and immediately after training. Based on your preconceived notions of what constitutes "a lot" of carbs, this may seem like a lot or not much at all.

Regardless, it’s important to understand that during and after training, insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance is very good (2; 3; 13; 15; 21). Even if you’ve self-diagnosed poor carbohydrate tolerance (which too many people do unnecessarily) during and after the postexercise period, your carbohydrate tolerance will be much better.

And if you consider that most carbohydrate ingested during and immediately after exercise will either be oxidized for fuel or sent to the muscle and liver for glycogen resynthesis and that even in the presence of increased insulin concentrations, the postexercise period is marked by a dramatic increase in fat metabolism (6; 7), it should be clear that even a whopping carbohydrate and protein drink will not directly lead to fat gain. Just be sure to account for this increase in carbohydrate intake by decreasing your carbohydrate intake during other times of the day when carbohydrate resynthesis isn’t so efficient and booming insulin isn’t so benign.

From this discussion it should be clear that, using the principles of nutrient timing, one can load up on carbs during and after the workout while reducing them for the remainder of the day. In using this strategy, carbs are fed when they’ll best be converted into muscle glycogen and when they’ll best stimulate muscle growth and/or repair. If muscle gain is your goal, you’ll get more muscle per gram of carbohydrate ingested. If fat loss is your goal, you’ll get more muscle glycogen and a pronounced muscle sparing effect with fewer daily carbs ingested. And if athletic performance/recovery is your goal, your recovery will improve dramatically.

So before we move on, it’s important to understand that the 960kcal I recommended (for 220lb men) would be better utilized during and after the workout than during any other time of the day and herein lies the gist of nutrient timing. Nutrients ingested during the Energy and Anabolic Phases can better contribute to muscle gain, repair, and recovery when compared to the same nutrients ingested during other times of the day.

Now that I’ve covered what to eat during the Energy and Anabolic Phases, I’ll be back next week with some recommendations for what to eat during the final two phases of the nutrient timing cycle.

John Berardi is the president of Science Link, Inc., a human performance and nutrition consultation group dedicated to translating scientific research into measurable body composition and performance results. John currently lives in Toronto, Ontario where he spends his time writing, consulting with athletes, and giving nutrition and training seminars. For more about John, his team, and their products and services, check out www.johnberardi.com.

© 1998 — 2004 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Science of Nutrient Timing — Part 2
by John M Berardi

In part 1 of this article, I outlined the concept of nutrient timing and discussed two of the key phases of nutrient timing: the Energy Phase and the Anabolic Phase. This week I’ll address the two other key phases of nutrient timing: the Growth Phase and the "Rest of The Day" Phase.

Nutrient Timing - The Growth Phase

After protein and carbohydrate have been provided during the Energy and Anabolic Phases, the net protein balance of the body shifted toward the positive; muscle glycogen restored, catabolism blunted and anabolism increased, it’s time to consider how to keep the growth process moving forward. After all, the damage has been done, the acute phase response is now activated to clean up the mess (see Lonnie Lowery’s Muscle Masochism for more on this process), and your metabolism is going to be racing until tomorrow. It’s definitely time to feed!

However, even though the body is under construction, it’s moving quickly back toward normal physiological functioning during this Growth Phase. In other words, the growth window is closing and this means bye-bye to improved insulin sensitivity. You can also sit back and watch your Testosterone and growth hormone concentrations fall. And muscle protein turnover is slowing down, reaching a rate just above normal.

With this slow return to "normalcy", it’s important to ditch the high glycemic carbohydrates and rapidly digested proteins. That’s right, while these foods were the anabolic superstars of the Energy and Anabolic phases, you’ll have to thank them and send them on their merry way during the Growth Phase and the "Rest of the Day" Phase. Kickin’ insulin is great during and after exercise, but elevate the insulin all day and your reward will be chub.

The When, What and How Much of the Growth Phase

While the exact when of the Growth Phase is a bit ambiguous, studies from my laboratory at the University of Western Ontario have recently demonstrated that unless muscle glycogen concentrations are severely reduced (greater than 70% depletion), carbohydrate and protein meals can help restore much of the depleted muscle glycogen in less than 6 hours. So, for simplicity sake, I consider the Growth Phase to last 6 hours after training.

During the Growth Phase, it’s important to continue to feed some carbohydrate and protein but definitely begin to reduce the total amount of carbohydrates ingested per meal while increasing the amount of protein ingested per meal. While a 2: 1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein was suggested for the Energy and Anabolic Phases, a ratio closer to 1: 1 might be optimal now.

Also, you’re going to start chewing real food rather than slurping down drinks. If we assume you’ll be drinking a postexercise drink immediately after training and you train in the morning or early evening, you’ll have time for about two food meals consisting of slower digesting proteins (meats, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc) and low glycemic carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, beans, ancient grains like quinoa, etc). If you train late in the evening, you’re screwed — just kidding. Actually, if you train late in the evening you can simply ingest one meal as specified and either have a midnight shake (a Grow! and some oatmeal might make a good choice) or simply skip the second Growth Phase meal.

Again, how much to eat depends on your goals. Once you’ve calculated your daily energy needs (you can do this by visiting the Massive Eating calculator), simply factor these meals into your total daily energy intake such that they are contributing toward your total intake. Remember, the Growth Phase, like the Energy and Anabolic Phases, is still marked by increased fat oxidation (even in the presence of some dietary carbohydrate) and increased glycogen synthesis (especially in the presence of some dietary carbohydrate). So take advantage of this by ingesting most of your daily carbs during these three phases.

Nutrient Timing - The Rest of The Day Phase

For those of you keeping score, the Energy, Anabolic, and Growth Phases cover about 7 or 8 hours of your training day. During these 7 — 8 hours, you’ll be ingesting about 4 total meals. Assuming you sleep about 8 hours per day, that leaves 8 — 9 hours and 3 meals to go. It’s these 8 — 9 hours and 3 meals that I consider "the rest of the day."

Since the Rest of the Day is marked by normal physiology, the food you eat during this phase should be adapted to what you know about your tolerance to carbohydrates and fats in the diet. For example, some of you may have relatively poor carbohydrate tolerance and insulin sensitivity. As a result, you should be eating mostly protein and a blend of fats during Rest of the Day. Others of you might do better on a higher carbohydrate diet. As a result, you should be eating more protein and carbohydrates during the Rest of the Day (as long as you don’t neglect getting your dietary fat, especially your essential fats).

In my experience, most trainees interested in carrying a low body fat percentage will benefit from simply eating protein and fats (with veggies) during the 3 Rest of the Day meals; carbohydrates and protein in a 2: 1 ratio during the 2 Energy and Anabolic meals; and carbohydrates and protein in a 1:1 ratio (some healthy fats can even be thrown in there) during the 2 Growth meals.

The When, What and How Much of the Rest of the Day Phase

As discussed, the Rest of the Day Phase is what’s left after your exercise and the 6 hours postexercise. During this time, it’s important to use what you know about your body to determine what to eat and your goals to determine how much to eat. Some of you can get away with a few carbohydrate and protein meals with some good fats thrown in. Others will have to go protein and fat meals with some veggies thrown it.

However, either way, you can rest assured that muscle glycogen concentrations have been maximized during your Energy, Anabolic and Growth Phases and that you’ve done everything in your power to stimulate the growth and recovery process.

One interesting way of looking at your food consumption during a "nutrient timing day" is that you’re eating like Atkins Diet proponents might recommend during 3 of your meals (Rest of the Day Phase); like Zone Diet proponents might recommend during 2 of your meals (Growth Phase); and like the American Dietetics Association might recommend during 2 more of your meals (Energy and Anabolic Phases).

Of course, this system wasn’t designed solely to reconcile the three big dietary movements but rather to use what we currently know about exercise metabolism to meet your daily energy needs in order to optimize growth, adaptation, performance and body composition. However, it’s certainly interesting to consider that the most effective nutritional strategy for athletes (nutrient timing) actually takes the best from each of the three most popular nutritional movements and finds a happy medium among them.

With the science of nutrient timing gradually producing more and more practical information, isn’t it about time you started using this information to support your training? If maximal muscularity, improved athletic performance, positive shifts in body composition, and marked improvements in recovery are your goal (uh, did I miss anyone), I encourage you to give the principles of nutrient timing a try. These principles form the foundation of my 7 Habits and Massive Eating Reloaded plans and will influence the field of sports nutrition for years to come.

By John M Berardi

My elite athletes have branded me "the recovery specialist" since my main focus lies in helping athletes perform the maximum amount of training with the minimum amount of rest while avoiding or minimizing over training.

I've been fascinated with recovery for the last few years. However, recently I have spent considerable time designing detailed research protocols to answer some relevant questions dealing with CNS recovery, recovery of protein balance, recovery of muscle glycogen and recovery of the ATP-PC system. My focus in these areas has been the interaction between the exercise and nutrition/supplementation. In fact the dissertation project that is going to earn me a PhD has been designed to examine the recovery of skeletal muscle biochemical parameters (ATP, Creatine Phosphate, Free Creatine, Fiber Type, PH, etc.) after very intense weight lifting. And as a follow-up I will be testing several old and several new supplements for their impact on recovery of the ATP-PC system after a single exercise bout and after chronic exercise training. It's exciting stuff that can be applied to all sorts of trainees at every level.

Below I will discuss some "secrets" that I use with my athletes. Remember, however, although there are nutritional and supplemental strategies listed here, there is no substitute for a comprehensive nutritional program in terms of promoting progress and recovery.

When talking about recovery from training and competition, there are basically 5 areas to focus on.

1) Replenishment of muscle glycogen stores

After many types of training, muscle glycogen levels are depleted. Rapid replenishement of muscle glycogen stores has a favorable impact on the prevention of muscle protein catabolism, on cellular rehydration, and on subsequent exercise performances within the same day or on subsequent days. Basically, if you don't replenish glycogen rapidly, your performance will suffer next time you train and you may even lose some muscle along the way. Achieving the most rapid replenishment of muscle glycogen stores is especially important to my endurance athletes because they often train several times per day. However this can also help those training for bodybuilding as bodybuilding training (9-12 reps) often can deplete muscle glycogen.

In terms of glycogen replacement, the main difference between the two types of athletes is that endurance athletes usually need more glycogen replacement than do weight trainees. With endurance exercise the athlete should consume more carbs over the 4-6 hour period after the workout than the weight lifter. In endurance athletes, I usually recommend consuming a liquid meal immediately after training that contains 0.4g protein and 0.8g of carbs per kg of body mass. Then I instruct them to consume food meals in similar proportions every 2 hours for 3 subsequent meals. This means that there will be 4 total meals in the 6 hours following training that conform to the 0.4g protein and 0.8g fat recommendations. Some fat may be included in these latter meals but since carb intake will be high, fat intake should be modest. In weight lifters, I recommend the consumption of an identical meal after training however there should only be 1 follow up meal (about 60-90 minutes later) that consists of the same macronutrient profile. Then the next meal beyond that should conform to the lifter's particular meal plan and should be eaten somewhere around 3 hours later.

So why protein and carbs in these meals to promote glycogen storage? Well there is some literature to suggest that the synergistic insulin response promoted by carbs and protein will enhance muscle glycogen storage. While some studies have disputed these findings, I continue to recommend the inclusion of protein in these meals due to the second area of recovery...protein balance

2) Recovery of protein balance

Protein balance is calculated as the difference between protein synthesis (protein anabolism) and protein breakdown (protein catabolism). As I've written before in my Solving the Post-Workout Puzzle articles (which can be found at www.t-mag.com), after training, protein synthesis tends to go down in endurance trainees while it may stay the same or minimially increase in weight trainees. However in both types of athletes, protein breakdown goes way up, thus creating a negative protein balance and a good potential for muscle loss. Although this eventually rebounds and the body goes into an anabolic state, in the time immediately following training, muscle can be lost. Since no athlete can afford muscle loss, this is an important focus for recovery and subsequent muscle gain. While weight trainers jump for joy at even the slightest prospect of a weight gain, endurance athletes aren't so excited about the possibility of any weight gain. However, the endurance athletes have nothing to fear. Since endurance athletes have a predomination of slow twitch fibers, the recovery of protein balance in these athletes is designed to prevent muscle loss as a result of intense training.

These types of fibers just don't grow very well so there is no big danger of packing on the pounds. But in bodybuilders, the fast twitch fibers respond quite differently than the slow twitch fibers. You will grow when a positive protein balance is initiated with nutrition and supplementation. And this means you get big.

So how does one initiate the recovery of protein balance after training?

Conveniently, the best way to do so is to consume the nutrient recommendations from the last section (glycogen replenishment). By consuming the mentioned ratios (with the addition of some individual amino acids like glutamine, bcaas, and phenylalanine in the first post-workout drink) you will quickly create the optimal anabolic environment by minimizing protein breakdown and increasing protein synthesis.

3) Recovery of the CNS (neurotransmitter balance)

Neurotransmitters are responsible for many functions in cell signaling and play a big role in the communication between different brain areas and between the brain and the rest of the body. Research on these regulatory chemicals and their effects in exercise training has just recently begun to get the attention it deserves. But this field is still in its infancy due to the fact that it's difficult to study the brain and central nervous system.

Some evidence exists showing that when neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, dopamine, and norepinephrine get depleted, physical and cognitive performance suffers. Since these neurotransmitters can be depleted from intense repeated bouts of strenuous exercise, this is bad news. I believe that certain types of fatigue with endurance training as well as many of the symptoms of over training (altered appetite, inability to sleep, etc.) are a result of this type of depletion of neurotransmitters. In addition to this evidence, there is research showing that even the ratio of tryptophan to BCAA in the blood can increase 5-HT (serotonin) levels in the brain. This is due to increased tryptophan uptake in the brain. Tryptophan is a precursor for the fatigue promoting neurotransmitter, serotonin.

Since neurotransmitters can be depleted during exercise and this depletion can cause fatigue and over training, nutritional strategies may offer some support. Supplementation with 1-2 g of phosphatidylcholine (lecithin) per day may prevent the depletion of acetylcholine seen with training. Since acetylcholine is active in promoting muscular force, memory, and awareness, this would offer both cognitive and performance benefits. In addition, 6-8 g of tyrosine supplementation per day may help with dopamine and noradrenaline depletion. Depletion of these neurotransmitters may lead to CNS fatigue, reduced motivation, poor memory, loss of motor control, and poor mood. Finally, supplementation with 5g of BCAA during training may prevent serotonin increases during and after training due to the fact that BCAA compete with tryptophan for uptake into the brain, thus reducing the precursors for serotonin production.

Since the research in this area is so new, I recommend that most endurance athletes try the supplements I mentioned to see if they impacts performance. If not, we simply eliminate them from the program. There is simply not enough evidence to know if the neurotransmitter alterations seen in training have that much of an impact on performance and whether or not supplements can help in this regard.

4) Maximizing the anabolic to catabolic hormone ratio

In very intensely trained athletes, the anabolic hormones (testosterone) tend to decrease while the catabolic hormones (cortisol) tend to increase. This phenomenon is present in most endurance athletes and can manifest in weight trainers who do a high volume of exercise. This imbalance can lead to muscle loss, performance decrements, depression, and fat gain.

Several supplement strategies can be employed in an attempt to correct this. In a study done by Steve McGregor, Tribex supplementation increased the free testosterone to cortisol ratio in elite cyclists. This indicates it may be useful in balancing the anabolic and catabolic hormones. In addition, supplements like vitamin C, phosphatidylserine, and plant sterols may help prevent exercise induced increases in cortisol levels.

5) Recovery of the ATP-PC system

The ATP-PC system is responsible for repeated muscular contractions at the start of all exercise. It is also extremely important for brief, all-out bursts of maximal effort. ATP (the best energy source for muscular contraction) is broken down during such efforts and PC comes to the rescue to resynthesize the ATP that was broken down. This system is usually very efficient. However when you really challenge the system with high intensity muscle-damaging contractions, the ATP is broken down faster than it can be resynthesized and some of its degradation products are lost from the muscle. This means that for each ATP that is lost, that's one less ATP to be resynthesized for further work.

Over the next few days following an exercise bout, ATP levels can be lowered by about 20% due to this. Sure, a few days later it will be back to normal. But most athletes don't train once every 3 days or so but every day. So they need more rapid recovery of ATP.

Creatine supplementation and ribose supplementation may come in handy here. High starting levels of muscle creatine before the exercise bout may be beneficial in preventing the overwhelming of the system and therefore the ATP loss. In addition, ribose supplementation has been shown (in vitro) to increase the rate of ATP resynthesis after exercise-induced depletion. So the creatine-ribose combination may be beneficial in partially preventing ATP depletion with exercise and may help lead to more rapid recovery of ATP to previous levels.

With the knowledge of these 5 areas essential to recovery after training, athletes can target their weakest areas. Proper identification of what system may not be recovering will help to target nutritional strategies for maximizing performance and minimizing symptoms of over training.

Solving the Post Workout Puzzle - Part I
By John M Berardi
First published at www.t-mag.com, Jan 26 2001.

The Unlikely Scientist
When I first began pushing iron, I knew very little about the science of weight training and nutrition. And to be honest, I really didn't care much about the science part. You see, I was 18 years old. At that age, all I personally cared about was being big, strong, and intimidating. Oh, and I'd better not forget to mention that I also cared a lot about sex. Somehow I figured that the pursuit of raw, intimidating "manliness" would ultimately equate to getting chicks. So most of my mental reserves were directed at getting really big and kicking everyone's ass both in and out of the gym.

Since my brain was pretty much occupied with all those deep philosophical musings, you can probably imagine that there wasn't much room in my melon for scientific thought. That was compounded with the fact that my predominant science experiences had been with Mr. Richard Wack, the very nerdy, defeated high-school chemistry teacher that had us mixing oil and water to illustrate chemical bonding or lack thereof (I swear that was his name!).

At the time, as ignorant as I was to science, there were a few scientifically validated nuggets of wisdom floating around the local gym. Sure, if I'd have known they were "science," I probably would have ignored them entirely. But since these pieces of science were cleverly disguised and because all the big guys were talking about them, I tried to use this information to it's fullest.

We discussed the merits of statements like "eating a lot of extra protein will make you grow" and "sleeping 8 hours a night will help you recover." These statements seemed to be entirely true and backed up by countless gym experiences. Today, they also happen to be backed up by well-controlled, university studies.

One statement that I was always quite fond of was the one that told me that there was a 90-minute "window of opportunity" after training in which I could eat tons of protein and carbohydrates. Since I love eating protein and carbs, I loved that particular gym "fact." And not only was it cool that it allowed me to pig out on protein and carbs after my workouts, it was equally exciting that in doing so, I would be recovering from my workout and packing on muscle mass at an alarming rate. "Who needs science?" I'd ask, "I'm gonna go eat!"

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, this crucial piece of post-workout wisdom has been lost. As a result, few modern trainees have even heard of the "window of opportunity" concept. Some guys today just think that eating "a little something" is enough. To go even further, some even have the audacity to fast for hours after workouts in order to "burn more fat" or to "enhance their GH response." It frightens me that these new practices are almost becoming as popular as the old window I was so fond of taking full advantage of. But I'm here to do something about it!

Despite the anti-science beginnings I discussed earlier, you may be amazed to know my current profession involves scientific research. In fact, I sit here typing this article surrounded by nothing other than science textbooks and journals. It constitutes some of the literature that I've read along the way to a PhD program in exercise and nutritional biochemistry. Who would of thunk it? Armed with all this science, my plan is to unscramble the post-workout puzzle that has lead so many trainees astray.

Post-Workout 101
Over the last few years, I've spent quite a bit of time trying to unscramble the post-workout puzzle in my own mind. And as a result of my research, I've discovered that immediately after a single bout of exercise, three main physiological events must be manipulated for enhanced recovery. These changes can only be described as "destructive" in terms of both training performance and muscle protein balance.

Before I go on, I want you to keep in mind that by exercise I mean either strength and power training or endurance training. Unfortunately, no trainee is immune to the three post-exercise phenomena. These three factors are as follows:

1. Glycogen Stores are low
2. Protein Breakdown is increased
3. Muscle Protein Balance is negative

It should be noted here that in addition to the above that Protein Synthesis also goes down after an endurance training session. And Protein Synthesis either goes up or remains unchanged after a strength training session. But either way, Protein Breakdown still predominates.

For those not well versed in physiological jargon, here's a little explanation of each:

Glycogen is muscle energy. Low glycogen stores mean that there's less cellular energy for daily life and certainly less energy for subsequent workouts. In this situation, training and performance suffer.
Protein Breakdown indicates that body tissues (which are made of protein) are being degraded. Increases in protein breakdown can lead to losses of muscle mass.

Muscle Protein Balance is regulated by the balance between Protein Synthesis and Protein Breakdown in the following way:

Muscle Protein Balance = Protein Synthesis - Protein Breakdown

Immediately after an endurance workout, protein synthesis (building) goes down and protein breakdown goes up. This leads to a negative Muscle Protein Balance and a loss of muscle.

And immediately after a strength workout, protein building either stays the same or slightly goes up but protein breakdown goes way up. This also leads to a negative Muscle Protein Balance and a loss of muscle.

As a result of these three post workout phenomena, a failure to rapidly bring the body back into recovery mode (i.e., to increase glycogen stores, to increase protein synthesis, and to prevent protein breakdown), has severeal potential consequences:

1. Prolonged muscle soreness and fatigue.
2. Poor subsequent performances on the track, field, and/or in the gym.
3. Symptoms of and or full-flegged staleness and overtraining.
4. Minimal gains in muscle mass despite a well-designed training program.
5. Losses of muscle mass and a secondary lowering of metabolic rate can occur if volume and intensity get high enough

"But wait just a minute!" you shout. "I thought exercise was supposed to increase performance, metabolic rate, and muscle mass! Now you're telling me that it could do just the opposite." Slow down, tiger. Let me explain.

It's interesting and very telling to look at the time course of changes in protein and glycogen balance after a workout. Back in 1995, researchers showed that immediately after strength training, protein balance is negative (indicating muscle loss) due to the big increase in protein breakdown and the marginal increase in protein synthesis (1).

Furthermore, this situation seemed to persist for a few hours after the workout. But a few hours later, an interesting switch occurred. Protein synthesis started to climb and breakdown started to fall (although it was still elevated).

This ultimately (about 24 hours later) can lead to a muscle protein balance where synthesis is equal to breakdown (no gain or loss in mass), or a positive protein balance where synthesis is greater than protein breakdown (voila, muscle gains).

So, even if you do everything wrong after hitting the iron, it's only the first few hours after the workout that are extremely catabolic. Twenty-four hours later, though, the body has normalized itself and is either neutral or slightly anabolic. So it appears that under normal circumstances, we've got to lose a little muscle to gain a little muscle.

I'm here to tell you, however, that if you manage the post-workout period correctly, you don't have to lose any muscle. And not only that, if you know how, you can actually achieve and maintain a positive protein balance throughout the entire recovery process. We'll talk more about this later on.

Unfortunately for our endurance friends, the prognosis isn't as good as it is for the muscle bound. Immediately after an endurance-training bout, muscle protein balance is very negative because there's both a big increase in protein breakdown and a big decrease in protein synthesis.

This situation, however, isn't as quickly reversible as it is in our muscle heads. In these athletes there remains a large negative protein balance for 8 hours or more after endurance exercise (2). Uh, say goodbye to the muscle!

Please keep in mind that these exercise studies were done with a day of rest following the training and measurement period. And most importantly, they were done without proper post-workout nutrition!

So, what about the athletes who are training every day (and up to two times or more per day) and then screw up on the post-workout nutrition? One can only speculate that they'll suffer from a big negative muscle protein balance. Since they're training time and time again before protein balance has been brought back to normal, they'll nearly always be in a state of protein breakdown. Bye-bye muscle, metabolism, and training intensity!

With this explained, I'd like to get back to the original objection. I believe that since the average trainee isn't training with the high frequency and intensity that could lead to large and persistent losses in muscle mass and metabolic rate, he or she has very little to worry about in terms of losses of muscle mass and metabolic rate.

With that said, however, the first four problems listed above (soreness, poor performance, overtraining, and stagnation) are often very much a reality for the average athlete and their valiant gym efforts could become frustrating and seem fruitless. Optimal post-workout nutrition can play heavily into the avoidance of the problems discussed above.

Competitive athletes, on the other hand, are particularly vulnerable to all of the above scenarios (including losses in mass and metabolic rate). Due to their training frequency, lack of time off, and intense work rates, most athletes are walking a fine line between their optimal training zone and overtraining. This is one of the reasons why they're subject to all types of ailments during their seasons.

The competitive athlete frequently has to suffer through excessive fatigue yet an inability to sleep at night, chronic muscle soreness, gastrointestinal and appetite alterations, irritability, loss of sex drive, and frequent infections and flu-like symptoms, just to name a few.

While overtraining in these athletes is brought on by a complex interaction between many factors, nutrition is one factor that is so easy to manage. Any competitive athlete would be foolish to ignore it as they wage war against the dreaded adversary - overtraining.

Back to Recovery Mode
At this point, if I've accomplished my mission, you should be pretty terrified by the negative effects of the unmanaged post-workout period. But now that you're afraid, I'm going to tell you exactly how you can best avoid the aforementioned problems.

In October of 2000, I was sitting in a conference center in Canmore, Alberta. There I was, listening to a presentation by one of the world's experts on post-workout and recovery nutrition (2). Up until this point, I thought I had a pretty good idea of how to eat during the post-workout period in order to maximize recovery. But after this presentation I realized that I had been missing one essential piece of the post-workout puzzle. In this article, grasshopper, I'm going to share the secrets with you.

For rapid recovery from exercise, immediately after a workout (strength or endurance), we must:

1. Rapidly replenish the low glycogen stores in our muscles
2. Rapidly decrease the muscle protein breakdown that occurs with exercise
3. Rapidly force further increases in muscle protein synthesis in weight trainers and/or restore muscle-protein synthesis in endurance athletes

In looking over this list, there are several things to keep in mind. First, remember that glycogen replenishment is important for several things. It's necessary for maintaining peak performance in both resistance and endurance training (3,4,5). In addition, if glycogen stores remain low, muscle protein breakdown can result and lead to loss of muscle mass (6). Finally, since glycogen attracts water to the muscle, the cellular hydration that results may stimulate new growth.

Another thing to consider is the protein balance factor. By rapidly increasing protein synthesis while simultaneously decreasing protein breakdown, you can shift to a positive muscle protein balance within 1 hour after the workout (7). Did you get that? You can recover within 1 hour!

Remember I said earlier that typically a trainee has to wait 24 hours for a positive muscle protein balance (1)? Unfortunately, even after this 24-hour period, recovery only means that there's at best only a neutral muscle protein balance (there's no longer breakdown, but building isn't occurring either). Using recovery nutrition, you can recovery nearly a day earlier that you otherwise would have!

And protein balance isn't just about muscle. If the body remains in a negative protein balance for too long, every cellular function can be affected. Hormones and hormonal precursors may be deficient. Neurotransmitters could be altered. And even the enzymes that are necessary for everything from cellular metabolism to digestion could be depleted. Not a pretty picture.

"Why are you putting so much priority on the post-workout period?" you might be asking. Well, it's because there are many parallels between the physiological effects of intense training and those seen in several illnesses. What happens during illness? Well, illness can lead to the degradation of many vital physiological processes. This degradation leads to stress on the body that can lead to further deterioration of the patient's condition.

In such situations, protein breakdown increases dramatically, creating the same negative protein balance as seen after a workout. Get it? Clinicians recognize the fact that the net negative protein balance seen in illness is a downward spiral that has to be stopped. So with proper nutrition and supplementation, they manage it. And that's exactly what athletes and weight trainers need to do.

So with the three important post-workout goals of increasing glycogen storage, increasing protein synthesis, and preventing protein breakdown in mind; I've devised a killer plan for attacking all three to promote optimal recovery after exercise. But I want to keep you in suspense for one more week before I tell you all the details. I know you'll spend the week in anxious anticipation but trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Solving the Post Workout Puzzle - Part II
By John M Berardi

It's been a week since I laid out the main repercussions of training and how they manifest themselves during the post-workout period. So now that you've had a chance to think about that, I'm ready to drop the recovery plan. Are you excited? I hope so. I also hope the build-up has been pretty dramatic. You have to realize, I've had to wait years for this information.

With the publication of each new study, I could see that we were getting closer to understanding the post-workout puzzle. But, as Tom Petty once said, "the waiting is the hardest part". Finally, this year, with the culmination of a number of research projects, it's pretty clear what type of nutrition we need for optimal post-workout recovery.

Maximize Post-Workout Glycogen Synthesis

There are two key factors to rapidly increasing post-workout glycogen synthesis :

1. Adequate carbohydrate availability (to convert to muscle glycogen)
2. High insulin levels (to stimulate glycogen storage and shuttle carbs into the muscle)

Endurance athletes have traditionally been encouraged to consume 1.2 g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight immediately after training/competition. In addition, they are encouraged to continue this supplementation every 2 hours up until 6 hours after their exercise bout. Recent evidence, however, indicates that the addition of protein to a carb drink can actually increase insulin levels higher than carbs alone. There seems to be a synergistic insulin release with protein plus carbs.

The current recommendations for endurance athletes have therefore changed to include protein. Eating every 2 hours is still recommended, but now endurance athletes are encouraged to consume 0.8 g of carbs per kg of bodyweight in combination with 0.4 g of protein / kg of bodyweight. This means that a 154 lb endurance athlete should be consuming 56 g of carbs and 28 g of protein at each meal: right after training, and 2, 4, and 6 hours after training.

Since most of the research on this topic has been done in endurance athletes, we have to speculate about what strength athletes would need in this regard. From the research, it's clear that strength athletes actually have higher glycogen synthesis rates after exercise than endurance athletes so they can more rapidly refill their glycogen stores.

But since strength athletes don't deplete their glycogen stores as badly as endurance athletes, they would need fewer total calories. With this said, I believe it's reasonable to suggest that a strength athlete consume one meal of 0.8g of carbohydrate and 0.4 g of protein / kg of body weight immediately after training.

This means that the 154 lb weight lifter would need 56 g of carbs and 28 g of protein while the 220 lb weight lifter would need about 80 g of carbs and 40 g of protein after a weight-training workout. Since glycogen synthesis rates are so high in strength athletes, they would only need to consume this type of meal immediately after the workout and then resume normal eating about 2-3 hours later.

If the strength athlete is in a bulking cycle, the post-workout recommendations would include 2 servings of recommended formula, one immediately after training and one 30-60 minutes later. Normal eating could be resumed 2-3 hours later.

A couple of final factors need to be discussed. First, the research is very clear that if you wait to consume your post-workout nutrition, you lose (14). One study showed that if the post-workout beverage was consumed immediately after training, glycogen synthesis was three times higher than if the beverage was consumed just two hours later. So the sooner you drink the drink, the better the recovery rate.

Secondly, with respect to the types of carbohydrate and protein to consume, it's clear that immediately after training, liquid nutrition is best tolerated. Since liquid nutrition is more rapidly digested and absorbed, nutrients are more rapidly delivered to the muscle. In addition, according to the literature, the optimal carbohydrates to consume are glucose and glucose polymers, like maltodextrin.

As far as the best protein to consume, you want to choose a protein that is absorbed as rapidly as the ingested carbs so that the synergistic insulin response can be maximized. Now that's hard to find. Most intact proteins (yes, even in powdered form) take several hours to be fully absorbed. We need protein that can get absorbed within minutes, just like the carbs do. Without this simultaneous absorption of both, the insulin response will be disappointing. So what to do? Well, since one of the most quickly digested proteins is whey hydrolysate, it's the protein of choice for our purposes here.

Stop Protein Breakdown Dead in its Tracks

The scientific literature is pretty clear in terms of how to prevent post-workout protein breakdown. And it can be summarized in one word... Insulin.

In previous years, scientists knew that the hormone insulin had a big impact on muscle-protein balance, but they just couldn't figure out if it impacted the synthesis or breakdown. Several studies within the last few years, however, have indicated that insulin is the main regulator of post-workout protein breakdown.

In one very detailed study published in May of 1999, it was clearly demonstrated that at rest, high blood levels of insulin increased protein synthesis by about 67% while not changing protein breakdown. However, during the post-workout period, insulin infusion decreased protein breakdown by about 30% without impacting protein synthesis.

The authors of this study concluded that at rest, insulin was anabolic, while after exercise insulin was anti-catabolic. These results have been validated by other studies showing that high blood levels of insulin considerably diminish post-workout protein breakdown without impacting protein synthesis during the post-workout period.

So the bottom line is that insulin is not anabolic after workouts, but it sure is anti-catabolic. And that's great because insulin is easily controlled. Also, since protein breakdown predominates during the post-workout period, getting the insulin up allows muscle breakdown to diminish so that synthesis can dominate and we can quickly get back to building muscle!

And don't forget that insulin causes vasodilation. This means the vessels "open up" and transport more blood (and nutrients) to the cells. Can you say "feed the muscle!"? And yes, that extra blood flow is full of the protein, amino acids, and carbs that you'll be ingesting immediately after the training session.

So how do we get insulin up after a workout? Well, you could always become a human pin cushion and inject your insulin right into the subcutaneous area of your abdomen. But I think there are better and certainly safer ways.

First, as mentioned earlier, by eating protein with carbs, insulin levels are higher than with carbs alone. In the aforementioned studies the insulin response to 0.8 g of carbs/kg (in the form of glucose and maltodextrin) plus 0.4 g of protein/kg (in the form of protein hydrolysate) was 103% higher (double) than the insulin response to an equal amount of calories coming from carbs alone (1.2 carbs /kg). So the very same carb/protein beverage that we're relying on for maximizing glycogen storage is also preventing protein breakdown. Sweet!

Secondly, certain amino acids can increase the insulin response to meals. By adding certain amino acids to the carb/protein beverage in the above study, the insulin responses were considerably higher than the carb/protein beverage alone. In addition, research in the 60s shows that specific amino-acid combinations were more effective than others at increasing insulin release. So it looks like carbs + protein + amino acids is the way to go.

Complete Your Recovery by Jacking Up the Protein Synthesis...

The final piece of the post-workout puzzle is the management of protein synthesis. And although this area is a little more complex than managing protein breakdown, there are three key ingredients to increasing protein synthesis immediately after workouts:

1. A proper ratio of BCAAs
2. High blood levels of essential amino acids
3. High blood levels of insulin

In the past, a high protein intake was recommended after workouts in order to increase protein synthesis. Actually, in the Protein Roundtable I even recommended a really big protein intake immediately after the workout in order to increase protein synthesis. Well, I'm here to say that I may have been a bit off base. Yeah, yeah, I'm admitting I may have been wrong, so cherish the moment and feel free to poke fun at me the next time you see me.

Based on the research, it appears that the amount of protein intake has very little to do with pushing protein synthesis up after workouts. And in fact, too much could be counter productive (more on this later). More important to increasing protein synthesis after workouts is the ability to rapidly deliver the right type of protein or, more correctly, the right type of amino acids. In a paper published last February, researchers discussed rates of protein synthesis during several conditions:

1. At rest with increased insulin levels, protein synthesis increased by about 50% when compared to normal insulin levels.
2. At rest with high amino acids in the blood, protein synthesis increased by about 150% when compared to normal blood levels of amino acids.
3. After weight training, protein synthesis increased by about 100% vs. pre-training values.
4. After weight training with high amino acids in the blood, protein synthesis increased by 200% vs. after weight training with normal blood amino acids.
5. After weight training with high amino acids in the blood and high insulin in the blood, protein synthesis increase by over 400% vs. normal post-workout amino acid and insulin levels.

The most interesting thing was that in the last condition, the post-workout beverage only contained 6 g of protein and 36 g of carbohydrate. As long as insulin was high and correct amounts of essential amino acids and BCAAs were present, protein synthesis got jacked after the workout.

Several other studies have shown that either infused or orally administered post-workout amino acids are able to rapidly increase protein synthesis as well as rapidly create a positive muscle protein balance after training.

Interestingly, it seems that non-essential amino acids are not required for this process and that if only essential amino acids are supplied, there's no difference in the increases in protein synthesis. Either way, the key seems to be this "infusion" concept where amino acids are very rapidly delivered to the blood. Again, whey hydrolysate is the quickest orally available protein for the blood unless you want to go ahead and hook up to the amino-acid IV drip.

You may be asking yourself why too much protein could be counterproductive. Well, a very high protein meal can actually cause a release of glucagon. Glucagon is a hormone that antagonizes insulin release. So if you eat some protein with carbs, insulin shoots up. If you eat too much protein with carbs, the insulin release may actually be lower. And if this weren't bad enough, glucagon also has another function that we want to avoid. The darn stuff causes the body to convert amino acids into glucose (a process called gluconeogenesis). So take in too much protein and say goodbye to that special amino acid ratio. Instead those aminos become carbs!

Let's get back to the amino acids. In addition to the requirement for rapidly delivered essential amino acids, BCAAs seem to play a big role in the recovery and increase of protein synthesis after a workout. Unpublished data presented at the 2000 Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Meeting shed light on the importance of BCAAs in recovery. In endurance athletes, post workout protein synthesis rates will drop by about 30% for up to 6 hours after a training bout. Providing carbohydrates to these athletes, while favorable for increasing muscle glycogen stores, has no ability to increase protein synthesis.

However, a drink providing only the BCAA leucine was able to promote full recovery of post-workout protein synthesis levels to pre-training values. In addition, by adding carbohydrate to the beverage, protein synthesis was higher after the workout than before the workout. Since this beverage increased blood insulin levels, the author of the study concluded that insulin indeed had a synergistic effect with leucine on protein synthesis.

The results of this study and others have lead researchers to believe that within the muscle cell, there's one particular regulatory pathway for protein synthesis that's stimulated by insulin, but dependent on leucine. If insulin is present and leucine isn't, then protein synthesis can't maximally be stimulated. If leucine is present and insulin isn't, protein synthesis can't be maximally stimulated. But give 'em both and look out!

Since leucine has this great impact on muscle protein synthesis and since levels of leucine, much like glutamine, decline during exercise, it only makes sense to supplement with leucine after workouts. In the end, it appears that leucine, along with protein and carbs, will lead to the greatest increases in protein synthesis.

So what's the best way to rapidly increase protein synthesis after a workout? It seems that the 0.4g/kg of protein hydrolysate plus 0.8g/kg of glucose/glucose polymer plus insulin-stimulating amino acids takes care of the insulin angle. But remember, insulin isn't enough. Providing BCAAs in an ideal ratio is the second part in rapidly stimulating protein synthesis.

The Grand Finale

That's it. The ideal post workout combo that maximizes your growth and recovery potential. Whew, that's a lot of science! I hope I didn't lose you along the way because I honestly believe that this article is the most important I've ever written for T-mag.

Compiling years of good post-workout science has enabled me to devise a plan of attack for optimal post-workout nutrition. And this plan of attack is designed with only one goal in mind... optimizing recovery for every human being that works out, regardless of the type of exercise they do.
Remember, to be effective, post-workout nutrition has to...

Increase glycogen stores

Increase protein synthesis

Decrease protein breakdown

Interestingly, several nutrients such as glucose and glucose polymers, protein hydrolysates, and amino acids can all work together with overlapping functions in order to accomplish all three goals. No drugs necessary!

At this point, before the jaded cynics write in shouting about how this article is probably nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at introducing a new Biotest supplement, I'm gonna' head them off at the pass. This isn't a thinly veiled attempt at introducing a new supplement. It is a full fledged, in your face, introduction to a new Biotest supplement .

This supplement uses every glorious piece of available nutritional science to support its claims. Because about 95% of the idea behind the formula is founded on nothing but hard data, very little of this article is theoretical. If you don't believe me, go look up the references yourself.

If that's not enough, the very formula that Biotest plans to launch is currently being evaluated in my lab. Unlike other companies, Biotest will actually have supporting data before the product is launched. Rest assured, T-mag readers will be the first to read about the results (which will be posted on this very site within the next few weeks).

The better part of the last year has been spent putting together the ideal post-workout protein formula that can maximally stimulate glycogen and protein synthesis while decreasing protein breakdown in all types of athletes. Since the formula is based only on nutrients that occur naturally in food, it has no banned or potentially harmful substances. It's therefore useful for all athletes from triathletes to power lifters and from those in high school to those competing in the professional ranks. Each and every trainee who wants a better physique and each and every athlete who wants to improve their training and their performances has something to gain by taking it.

Stay tuned because over the next few weeks we will be discussing the data collected in the lab (complete with charts and graphs). In addition, T-mag will be doing a series of Q&A articles about the new formula. T-mag has been getting quite a bit of excited feedback and many questions, so I'll be answering them in these articles.

The topics for some of the upcoming articles include questions of post-workout nutrition including issues about GH release, questions on fat burning, and questions about post-exercise caloric expenditure.

Precision Nutrition for 2002 and Beyond
By John M Berardi

Post-workout nutrition. Pre-workout nutrition. Mid-workout nutrition. Over the last year, you've heard a whole lot about these topics and for good reason. Whether you're a strength or endurance athlete, the correct nutrients before, during, and after exercise can dramatically impact your muscle mass and recovery.

A few weeks ago at the annual Society for Weight Training Injuries Specialists (SWIS) symposium, I gave a 90-minute presentation detailing how skeletal muscle adapts to resistance exercise training. In addition, I discussed how general nutrition as well as pre- and post-workout nutrition could maximize this adaptation. The following article is adapted from that presentation and it's probably the most advanced, comprehensive article T-mag has ever published on the topic.

Put your thinking caps on and let's delve into the details of why you'd better be paying close attention to what you consume around training time.

Skeletal Muscle Adaptation to Resistance Exercise and the Effects of Nutrition - How You Get Hyoooge!

The purpose of this article is to present a case for the importance of nutrition in terms of the adaptation to resistance exercise. My argument, while hopefully light and free of the burdens of complex and intimidating research jargon, is founded on dozens of research studies. Here's what's on the menu:

Muscle Protein Composition
Effects of a Single Bout of Resistance Exercise
Effects of Long-Term Resistance Training
Muscle Signaling and Protein Turnover
Interactions Between Training and Nutrition
Let's dig in.

Muscle Protein Composition
When most weightlifters think of muscle protein, protein synthesis, and protein breakdown, they undoubtedly think only of contractile protein. In the world of muscle physiology we call this portion of muscle the myofibrillar protein. However, this preferential focus on contractile protein is a big mistake since muscle protein synthesis and degradation processes are constantly occurring with respect to the other muscle proteins as well. The other muscle proteins include sarcoplasmic protein and mitochondrial protein.

Sarcoplasmic proteins are located in the free fluid portion of the cell and include proteins like the anaerobic enzymes, some structural support units, RNA, receptors, etc. Mitochondrial proteins are located in the mitochondrion - the cell's metabolic machine - and these proteins include the aerobic enzymes, the structural proteins making up the mitochondrion, RNA, and receptors. Each of these proteins are important in the response to exercise and therefore should be recognized.

Effects of A Single Bout of Resistance Exercise

A single bout of resistance exercise is both a catabolic and an anabolic event. The stress on the body is serious, but the mechanism by which the body recovers leads to growth. I want to focus first on the catabolic events induced by exercise, then we'll look closer at the anabolic events.

The Catabolic Events (The Bad Part)

In response to a single bout of resistance exercise, the following catabolic events occur:

Glycogen Depletion - Studies have shown that performing 10-rep sets of biceps curls and leg extensions leads to a significant depletion of stored muscle carbohydrates. One set of biceps curls leads to 12% depletion while three sets of biceps curls leads to 25% depletion. Three sets of leg extensions lead to 35% depletion, while six sets of leg extensions lead to over 40% depletion. A typical bodybuilding workout may consist of many more sets per muscle group and this may lead to even further depletion of muscle glycogen.

Decreased Net Protein Balance - (Protein Breakdown > Protein Synthesis) In a fasted state, muscle protein status is negative. This means that more protein is broken down than is synthesized and that leads to muscle protein loss. Now, when resistance exercise (both moderate and intense) is performed in a fasted state (after an overnight fast or several hours after a meal), protein status drops even more during the few hours following the exercise bout. This means that you're losing even more muscle protein. Although this protein loss isn't all contractile protein, all of the degraded protein must be replenished via protein synthesis when recovery needs to take place.

The question you should be asking yourself at this point is: "If protein status is negative after training, why don't people get smaller and waste away with resistance exercise?" Well, the answer is simple. Although protein status is negative during the first few hours following resistance exercise, this catabolism shifts toward anabolism later on. The body begins to build muscle after a certain point and this protein anabolism seems to peak at 24 hours after the training bout.

Increased Resting Metabolic Rate - After intense resistance exercise, the body's resting metabolic rate increases by about 12 to 24%. Interestingly, the bigger you are, the more muscle you'll damage in training and the more your metabolism may increase.

Increased Blood Cortisol Concentrations - Studies aren't totally conclusive on this point due to the daily variability of the measure (cortisol concentrations fluctuate widely based on the time of day). I believe that the evidence is fairly convincing that intense exercise leads to an increase in this catabolic hormone. Some studies have shown a doubling in cortisol concentrations after resistance exercise.

Acute-Phase Response - The Acute-Phase Response is an immune and inflammatory response that's triggered when muscle is damaged. This process leads to further tissue injury and destruction as well as the production of free radicals.

The Anabolic Events (The Good Part)

In response to a single bout of resistance exercise, the following anabolic events occur:

Increased skeletal muscle blood flow - During exercise, blood is shunted to the working muscle. This is often called "the pump." This blood delivers nutrients to fuel the muscular work.

Increased anabolic hormones - There are short-lived increases in the anabolic hormones GH, Testosterone, and IGF-1 both during and after exercise. However, people have definitely overestimated the significance of these transient increases in hormone concentrations. I hate to commit a mortal sin here, but the endocrine response to exercise probably has little to do with increasing muscle mass. The small, short lived increases in these hormones are far too brief to really affect muscle mass.

Acute-Phase Response - Wait a minute, didn't I include this in the catabolic section? Yes, I did. You see, while the beginning of the acute-phase response is catabolic, later on the response becomes anabolic.

The Acute-Phase Response

After each resistance exercise bout (assuming you've trained like a T-man), you're going to be sporting some muscle damage. This damage is most likely due to the eccentric (negative) component of the exercise and may manifest as large areas of dead or dying tissue. Once this damage occurs, an immune response is launched and this immune response is put in place to try to destroy and dispose of the dead tissue. So far, so good.

However, the immune cells (leukocytes, macrophages, etc) often don't know where to stop and continue to destroy and dispose of undamaged tissue. This is where the catabolism comes in. Now, not only are we missing contractile proteins as a result of the exercise bout (original damage), but we're missing protein that was undamaged during the exercise but destroyed by the immune response (chemical mediated damage).

Thank goodness the destruction stops here. The immune response, after its nasty destructive binge, leads to the activation of satellite cells. Basically, satellite cells are immature nuclei (nuclei contain the cell's DNA) that hang out on the periphery of the muscle cell. When the immune system kicks up, the satellite cells are stimulated to proliferate and move to the site of the injury.

Simultaneously, growth factors from a place outside the cell called the extracellular matrix are brought into the cell. These two things lead to muscle repair. The satellite cells create new proteins to replace the destroyed contractile proteins. In fact, they do such a nice job that the muscles end up bigger and stronger than they were before the bout.

Effects of Long Term Resistance Exercise Training

It's no secret that resistance training leads to increases in muscle size (hypertrophy) and muscle strength. Next, let's discuss how the muscle adapts to this type of training.

There's an increase in the size, number, and strength of myofibrils (contractile/structural protein). As muscle damage is repaired and protein synthesis elevated, a few things occur. First, the old myofibrils (not the muscle fiber itself) split in two, and when they're repaired there are two new contractile units available for growth.

Second, brand new myofibrils are added to the periphery of the muscle cell, leading to a larger muscle cell. Third, the new myofibrils added will be better suited to the demands of the activity. Powerlifting training will lead the fibers to behave more like the fast twitch Type II-B fibers (fastest available) while bodybuilding training will lead fibers to behave more like the fast twitch Type II-A fibers (still fast twitch, but slower).

There's an increase in the size and strength of connective tissue. Myofibrils are contained within muscle fibers and muscle fibers are grouped together to form muscle fiber bundles. A connective tissue sheath surrounds each bundle of muscle fibers within the whole muscle. This connective tissue adapts to resistance training by showing increases in size and strength parallel to the fiber itself.

There's an increase in stored substrate. As a result of training, there's more glycogen (carbohydrate) and triglyceride (fat) storage within the muscle. This makes more fuel readily available for exercise.

There's an increase in muscle-water content. Due to the increased carbohydrate storage (carbohydrates hold about four times their weight in water) and larger fiber size, more water is present in a trained muscle.
There's an increase in muscle enzyme content and activity. As a result of resistance training, there's an increase in the content of the enzymes of the ATP/PC system and glycolytic system.

There's an increase in nervous system efficiency. As a result of resistance training, the nervous system becomes more coordinated and efficient in terms of muscle recruitment/activation and firing frequency.

I hope it's clear that the genetically driven program of adaptation is a sound one. Adaptations occur to make the body more efficient at doing what it habitually does.

Protein Turnover and Muscle Signaling

At this point, I'd like to address a theory I have regarding physiological adaptation. This theory is based on the concept of tissue turnover. As I've discussed before, all tissues of the body go through a regular program of turnover. Most often people talk about skin turnover. We all know that old skin is degraded and dies off while new skin is synthesized to take its place. This occurs more rapidly when we experience some type of tissue injury (like a sunburn). Well, the same holds true for all tissues of the body. The only thing that's different is the rate at which this occurs.

Muscle protein is no exception to this rule. It's constantly being turned over. And turnover is the balance between protein breakdown and protein synthesis. The rate at which this turnover occurs is dependent on your nutritional intake, exercise habits (the damage caused), and genetic programming.

Understand here that this protein tissue turnover is what allows the muscle to adapt. Therefore, the goal should be to dramatically increase your protein turnover rates. Yes, that's right, I want you to increase your protein turnover and this includes protein breakdown! The funny thing is that everyone wants to decrease their protein breakdown with "anti-catabolic supplements," but that's a bad thing. Let me show you why.

When you first begin a training program, your goal is to lift heavy weights and have big slabs of beef hanging from your skeleton. However, at the start, your muscles are certainly weak and small compared to what they will be. So when faced with what you want them to do, they can't do it; they're dysfunctional.

So how do you make a muscle more functional? You destroy it! And that's what training does for you. When you go to the gym, your muscle is inadequate so you lift weights to make it stronger. This process destroys the dysfunctional muscle and signals the cell to synthesize a new protein to take its place. This protein will certainly not be the same as the previous protein. It'll be bigger and stronger, better suited to what it thinks it'll have to do in the future.

But what happens if another bout of exercise doesn't come after that? Well, as the natural tissue turnover process occurs, that strong muscle will be destroyed and replaced by a weaker one. See how it works? The body is constantly re-creating itself by breakdown and subsequent resynthesis based on what you ask it to do. It really is a beautiful system. Let's look at this process in a little more detail.

As I stated, breakdown is always occurring and is necessary for tissue remodeling. This breakdown, in conjunction with extra cellular amino acids (primarily from the diet), helps to expand the intracellular amino acid pool. When the nucleus is stimulated, the DNA contained within undergoes a process called transcription. Transcription is the process by which a specific group of RNA molecules are formed (mRNA, rRNA, tRNA). These RNA molecules are specific for the signal that interacted with the nucleus.

In the second phase of protein making, the RNA units are stimulated by a process called translation. This signal is responsible for the ultimate protein. The mRNA and rRNA units are the "template" or "blueprint" for protein formation. The tRNA units are responsible for picking up the amino acids and laying them down on this template to form the protein. The two phases of protein formation are regulated independently and I want to briefly discuss this.

New data in the research world is beginning to explain how muscles respond to the exercise signal. This is one proposed model. Basically, when eccentric exercise leads to mechanical stress on the membrane (pulls it apart), a series of chemical events occur within the cell. These chemical events form a messenger system that ultimately stimulates the nucleus. This stimulation leads to the formation of specific RNA molecules (transcription) that may, if all the other cellular conditions are right, lead to more muscle protein and a larger muscle. Remember, transcription is only part of the equation. Translation is also required.

Another major signaling pathway in the muscle is the insulin-signaling pathway. This pathway is elegant because once the insulin molecule binds to the cell membrane, it sets in motion two different chemical messenger systems that accomplish three goals. This system increases transcription (DNA formation), increases glucose uptake into the cell, and increases the translation of the cellular DNA into protein. Although there are other pathways that stimulate translation, the insulin pathway is the most important nutritional one.

The insulin-signaling pathway is dependent on nutrients to run properly. Carbohydrates are necessary for insulin release. The amino acid leucine is necessary to run one part of the pathway that stimulates translation, and the essential amino acids are necessary to lay down on the template to form the protein. Ahh, things are all coming together now.

To better remodel your muscle, you need to destroy the dysfunctional protein (keep tissue turnover rates high) and you need to exercise to stimulate the nucleus. This stimulation will lead to transcription or the creation of a specific blueprint for a better muscle. The insulin signaling pathway completes the protein making process by stimulating the translation of the blueprint into a protein. When all this comes together you end up with a muscle more suited to your activity pattern.

The next question most people ask me is, "Do high rates of muscle protein turnover, when synthesis is greater than breakdown, always lead to huge muscles?" The answer is no! What happens to the muscle is dependent on the signal that stimulates the nucleus. If the signal is a weight-training signal, the RNA as well as the ultimate protein formed will lead to big muscles. In this situation, increasing the size and the strength of the myofibrils is the priority.

However, if the signal is an endurance training signal, the RNA formed as well as the ultimate protein formed will lead to more metabolic muscles. In this situation, the priority is an increase in oxygen delivery and consumption. Because it's the exercise signal and not the nutritional signal that determines the adaptation, weightlifters and endurance athletes should have a common goal of increased protein breakdown (destruction of the old protein) coupled with an even higher increase in protein synthesis (formation of a better protein). In my opinion, nutritional needs of the two types of athletes are strikingly similar.

So, I hope I've convinced you that high rates of tissue turnover are important regardless of which type of athlete you are. But knowledge without action is powerless. Next, I want to show you how to do it.

Interactions Between Resistance Exercise and Nutrition - What to Consume to get Hyoooge!

What's the most important nutritional consideration for maximizing the adaptive potential of muscle? The answer: Total daily energy intake.

There are a few requirements for high rates of tissue turnover and they're all dependent on a high energy input. High rates of tissue turnover are very energy expensive so extra calories are needed to run this circuit. You see, your time in the gym is also very energy expensive and so is the hypermetabolism and muscle repair that follows your workout. If the body doesn't get adequate energy supplies (in the form of calories), it obviously can't optimally perform all the functions of exercise, repair, and tissue turnover.

The first system to suffer in this equation will be your tissue turnover rates. If you don't eat enough daily calories, this system will slow down so that less energy is needed and the energy to fuel the workout and recovery is provided by the destruction of tissues. But in this case, remodeling suffers.

Interestingly, this has implications for your body composition/body fat as well as muscle function. The loss of weight isn't always an indicator of inadequate calorie intake. As described above, the body will slow down tissue turnover in response to under eating. Since tissue turnover is expensive, your energy needs decrease and you remain weight stable. However, as mentioned, your tissue remodeling will suffer.

When you increase calories, the first thing to occur will be the increase in tissue turnover rates. This will dramatically raise calorie needs. Depending on your calorie intake, you may end up either losing weight (turnover increases more than calories), remaining weight stable (turnover matches calorie intake), or increasing muscle weight (turnover is less than intake). But the benefit here is that when tissue cycling rates are high, even if you're losing weight or remaining weight stable, the body is being remodeled in a positive and functional way. Again, the key is a high calorie intake.

Recovery Nutrition

The next important nutritional issue to address is recovery nutrition. Here I'll address how the provision of liquid nutrients in and around the workout can lead to positive changes in the catabolic and anabolic events associated with a bout of resistance exercise. In addition, I'll make specific recommendations about what to take during and around the workout to maximize recovery and the adaptation to the exercise.

The provision of liquid nutrients during and after exercise is important for several reasons. First, an anabolic environment is created, as the exercise and insulin signals are both stimulating cellular activity. Second, such nutrition can shift the net protein status in a positive direction so that muscle protein is being built in and around the workout. Third, muscle recovery is superior due to replenishment of muscle substrates. And fourth, nutrients are rapidly delivered for energy provision when it's most needed.
Below I'll list the ideal beverage composition for both workout and post-workout drinks. After, I'll discuss the literature that supports these recommendations.

Sip immediately before and during exercise:

Carbohydrates (0.4 to 0.8g/kg) - The carbohydrate content of your drink should contain high GI carbohydrates that are easily digested. I recommend a 50/50 blend of glucose and maltodextrin.

Protein (0.2 to 0.4g.kg) - The protein content of your drink should contain easily digested and assimilated proteins like hydrolyzed whey.

Amino Acids (3-5g of each) - The BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids) may be important as they're the main amino acids oxidized during exercise. The provision of BCAA during exercise decreases net cellular protein breakdown. In addition, glutamine may spare muscle glutamine concentrations and maintain immune homeostasis during training and recovery.

Creatine (3-5g) - Creatine intake increases work capabilities during exercise, increases recovery of ATP-PC homeostasis, and may increase muscle mass directly/indirectly.

Water (2 L) - The amount of water you consume with such a beverage is crucial since digestion will suffer if you have a beverage that's too concentrated. A solution of 4 to 8% is ideal for proper digestion and hydration during exercise. Any more concentrated and many of those nutrients will be completely wasted. To calculate concentration, remember 10g of total powder in 1L is a 1% solution while 100g of total powder in 1L is a 10% solution.

Editor's Note: Based on these recommendations, John formulated Biotest Surge as the perfect pre- and post-workout drink. (Biotest did not include creatine, however, because some people just don't want it or respond to it. Adding creatine would have also driven up the price, but you can certainly add creatine to your Surge drink if you like.)

After exercise:

Repeat the above beverage but add 500mg of vitamin C and 400IU of vitamin E.

Here's a sample calculation of what a 220lb (100kg) person would need:

Pre/During Exercise

40g-80g of carbohydrate (50% glucose - 50% maltodextrin)
20g-40g of hydrolyzed protein
3-5g each of creatine, glutamine, BCAA
2L water (80g CHO + 40g PRO + 5g Creatine +5g Glutamine +5g BCAA = 135g of nutrients. In 1L of water this would be a 13.5% solution and too concentrated. In 2L of water this is about 6.75% and the concentration is just right).

Post Exercise

40g-80g of carbohydrate (50%glucose-50%maltodextrin)
20g-40g of hydrolyzed protein
3-5g creatine each of glutamine, BCAA
1L - 2L water
500mg vitamin C, 400IU vitamin E

Support for these recommendations

Pre and Mid-Workout Benefits

The benefits of such a beverage during exercise include:

Rapid provision of fuel - Supplementation can provide fuel when it's needed most. Liquid, easily digestible nutrients can be digested, absorbed and delivered in a matter of minutes while whole food meals can take hours to reach the muscle.

Maintenance of blood glucose - Blood glucose can decrease during exercise, leading to local muscular as well as central fatigue. Supplementation can maintain blood glucose concentrations and delay fatigue.

Maintenance of muscle glycogen - As shown earlier, six sets of leg extensions can deplete thigh glycogen by over 40%. Supplementation with liquid carbohydrate during repeated sets of leg extensions can help prevent such a large decrease in muscle glycogen. Compared with the normal 40% decline in muscle glycogen, subjects supplemented with carbohydrate only experienced a 20% reduction of muscle glycogen.

Increased muscle blood flow - While some theorize that the digestion of this drink will draw blood away from the muscle and toward the gastrointestinal tract, this couldn't be further from the truth. Since the recommended drink is so easily digested and the stimulus to send blood to the muscle is so strong, blood flow to the muscle will actually increase with such a drink.

At rest, blood flow to the muscle is quite low. However, during exercise muscle blood flow increases by almost 150%. When a carbohydrate and amino acid drink is taken pre/during the workout, the blood flow during the workout increases by about 350%. This is a very powerful effect since there's significantly more blood going to the muscle and this blood is packed with anabolic nutrients!

Increased insulin concentrations - By increasing insulin concentrations and delivering more of this insulin to the muscle, the extra glucose, amino acids, and creatine that are in the blood will be more readily taken up into the muscle. Studies have shown that the more insulin available in the blood, the more prominent the tissue building effect. The highest insulin response noted (over 1000% increase) was induced by a carbohydrate, protein, and amino acid beverage with the same proportions of nutrients as recommended above.

More positive protein balance (see "positive protein status" below)

Post-Workout Benefits

Rapid fuel provision for recovery needs (same as above)

Decreased post-exercise cortisol concentrations - After exercise, cortisol concentrations can increase to concentrations 80% higher than resting values. The provision of a carbohydrate supplement can lower the cortisol response to exercise by about half. This means that post exercise cortisol concentrations with supplementation will only be about 40% higher when compared to resting concentrations.

Increased insulin concentrations - By increasing insulin concentrations, the extra glucose, amino acids, and creatine in the blood will be more readily taken up into the muscle.

Rapid glycogen replenishment - After exercise, if nutrients aren't provided, glycogen replenishment won't occur. In one study, a resistance exercise protocol depleted muscle glycogen by 33%. If no meal was consumed and muscle glycogen was measured four hours later, muscle glycogen remained depleted. If a 230-calorie beverage was consumed (either carbohydrate alone, or a macronutrient blend) immediately after exercise, glycogen was fully restored in the four hours.

Stimulation of protein synthetic pathway - Below, I've listed values for protein synthesis under different treatment conditions. Each percent increase is relative to fasting baseline values.

Insulin Treatment - 50% higher
Amino Acid Infusion - 150% higher
24 Hours Post-Exercise - 100% higher
Amino Acids Immediately Post-Exercise - 200% higher
Amino Acids and Carbohydrate Immediately Post-Exercise - 350% higher
Amino Acids and Carbohydrate Given Immediately Pre-Exercise - 400% higher

It should be obvious that pre- and post-workout drinks dramatically stimulate protein synthesis.

Positive protein status - When fasted, during exercise and immediately post exercise, protein status is negative (more protein is being lost than is being retained). With feeding, protein status increases so that more protein is retained than lost. If liquid nutrients are given after exercise, the protein status becomes positive very quickly with the highest increase in the group that gets carbohydrate and amino acids immediately before exercise.

In all post-exercise situations where nutrients are provided, protein breakdown is accelerated (as we'd expect and as I recommend), but the increases in protein synthesis outweigh the increases in breakdown and lead to large increases in protein retention.

Anabolic hormone changes seen with exercise are relatively unaffected - Testosterone decreases slightly after exercise when any type of food is consumed but the change is small and won't impact muscle mass. In addition, while GH declines with carbohydrate intake at rest, after exercise the signal to release GH is very strong and is unaffected by nutritional supplementation. Therefore a drink given post exercise won't diminish any small effects that the anabolic hormones may have on the body.

Prevention of free radical damage - The vitamin C and E recommendations are in place to help prevent excess free radical induced cellular damage. The exercise itself as well as the acute phase response leads to free radical production. The antioxidants may save the cell from free radical damage.

Rapid ATP/PC recovery - Intense resistance exercise leads to the loss of substrate from the ATP/PC system. Creatine supplementation can help the body more rapidly resynthesize these substrates.


At this point I must be completely frank by acknowledging potential critics. Some may argue that the data supporting these recommendations are incomplete. They may argue that there are no studies showing that using a Biotest Surge type of beverage will improve athletic performance or increase muscle mass. They will argue that there are no proven benefits to such a blend.

In response I must concede that they're correct, at least partially. There are no such long-term studies at the present time. However, in our laboratory and others, research is currently being conducted to address these concerns. But, as we all know, research takes time. So what does one do until the debate is settled?

You could certainly stay on the fence and wait until the data are in. However, in the mean time, I believe that the evidence and real world feedback weighs in strongly that such a beverage will offer significant benefits. And as Arnold Schwarzenegger said in the movie Pumping Iron, "All these things are available to me. And if they are available to me, I might as well use them."

I'll go one step further in saying that you should use them.

The Post-Workout Resurgence
An interview with John M. Berardi
by Chris Shugart

Once upon a time, athletes and bodybuilders didn't think too much about post-workout nutrition. Gradually, some began to notice that what they consumed after training made a big difference in their performance and their physique. In the 90's, science taught us that quickly ingesting a liquid meal of protein and carbs made a huge impact on recovery, repair, and, consequently, muscle growth.

So, most of us at that time started drinking a meal replacement shake right after we got back from the gym. It worked pretty well. This was certainly an improvement over the old off-season Arnold standby — consuming a whole chicken and a pitcher of beer after training!

Later we learned that ingesting an even greater amount of "simple" carbs after a workout was especially beneficial. We tried our best to concoct our own fast acting protein and carb drinks. Again, the results were okay, definitely better than nothing.

Finally, a bunch of labcoat types nailed the exact post-workout formula that could really help us take our physiques to the next level. One of those cats was T-mag contributor John M. Berardi, who formulated the hands-down best post-training drink on the market.

That's been a couple of years, so we thought we'd sit down and chat with John about what's new in this vital area of nutrition.

Chris Shugart: John, I understand you have some new info regarding post-workout nutrition, but before we get into that, let's review what we know so far. Give us the Cliff's Notes version of why a properly formulated post-workout drink is so important for looking good naked.

John M. Berardi: Cliff’s Notes (or Cole’s Notes for you Canadians)! Ahh, now you’re bringing back memories, Shugs. I barely graduated high school and without Cliff, I might have had to do grade twelve over again. So, you want Cliff’s Notes for my post workout strategies? Well, basically, here’s the deal.

Every minute of every day is spent either building protein or breaking protein down. This process of protein turnover is one I’ve discussed before in my articles, Precision Nutrition and The Protein Prejudice. If, at the end of each day, there's more protein built than is broken down, the body will have improved.

If you’re a strength athlete, it means you’ve probably built more muscle and improved your contractile machinery. If you’re an endurance athlete, it means you’ve probably built more aerobic enzymes and improved the quality of your aerobic machinery. And if you’re simply interested in improving your body composition, assuming you’re eating well and exercising, it means you’ve probably lost some fat and built some muscle.

CS: So shifting the protein status of the body toward the positive side is always beneficial.

JMB: You got it. This is where post-workout nutrition is critical. For a number of years, physiologists have known that during all forms of exercise, and even in the few hours after exercise, the protein status shifts toward the negative end — where protein breakdown predominates.

This post-workout period represents an ideal target point for improving anabolism. As a result, exercise and nutrition researchers have discovered that the provision of carbohydrates and protein/amino acids during the potentially catabolic exercise and post exercise periods can not only reverse this negative shift in protein status, but can actually shift the body toward a very positive protein status, much more positive than any other time of the day.

In fact, new research shows that if you take a protein/amino acid and carbohydrate drink after exercise, the boost you get for the first few post-exercise hours adds to the eventual gains in protein mass associated with weight training. What this means is that the combination of proper post-workout nutrition taken immediately after exercise and the normal anabolic response to exercise will lead to unparalleled protein turnover, recovery, and anabolism.

That's the grossly simplified answer. For a more detailed, fully referenced discussion of this phenomenon, I encourage readers to check out my "Solving The Post-Workout Puzzle" Part I and Part II articles.

CS: What about pre-workout? I know a lot of people take half their "post" workout drinks before training and half after. Why?

JMB: I’ve actually written about this very topic before in a previous Appetite for Construction column. In that article, I discussed a study showing that a pre-workout drink containing protein/amino acids and carbohydrates can actually promote a greater anabolic response than what can be accomplished during the post-workout period. I also suggested either slugging down some Biotest Surge before and after exercise or sipping the Surge during the exercise bout and then having some more after the bout.

CS: So what’s up there?

JMB: Well, it appears that consuming such a beverage immediately before or during exercise can increase blood flow to the exercising muscles. In addition, since this extra blood will be jam-packed with protein building amino acids and energy supplying carbohydrates, the body can actually maintain an anabolic state during exercise.

Before this study, a hypothesis stating this was possible would've been laughed at, but it turns out that a pre/during workout drink can actually shift the body into a muscle building state even during the most intense exercise.

From this information it’s not too far fetched to suggest that a pre/during workout drink containing protein/amino acids and carbohydrates would nicely add to the effects of one’s post-workout drink by tackling the exercise period. The post-workout drink tackles the post-exercise period.

One thing I’ve learned, however, is that it’s best to avoid drinking the Surge before exercise and instead sip it during the exercise. By consuming it before, some athletes have been prone to rebound hypoglycemia during their training while others have simply felt too full with all that fluid slogging around in their guts.

CS: Okay, so for those that use Surge pre-workout, it's usually best to sip it throughout the workout instead, then take the other half after training. Gotcha.

You know, there's been a huge "Surge resurgence" recently. I guess word is getting around because even though we haven't talked about it much lately here at the mag, sales of Surge are going through the roof.

JMB: To be quite honest, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for people to start getting the message; the post-workout nutrition studies have been appearing since the mid-90's. But I guess people’s reluctance has been due to the fact that exotic supplements containing micro and milligram quantities of weird, untested herbs have been all the rage lately, taking people’s focus off the most important nutritional manipulations of all—manipulations of the macronutrients. As you well know, it’s not all that exotic or sexy to recommend simple products containing basic ingredients like proteins, carbohydrates, and amino acids.

CS: Now that Surge has been out for a while, what observations have you made? What are users experiencing?

JMB: Surge users have been reporting a host of benefits. Weight trainers have reported the following:

One, an increase in muscle mass over time. Those last few words are very important. While it’s not uncommon to see 400% increases in protein synthesis when using protein/amino acids and carbohydrates immediately after training, even this huge increase only translates into a few grams of muscle mass gained per workout. Since there are 1000 grams in a kilogram, it takes quite a few workouts to gain a measurable amount of muscle mass with this single nutritional manipulation alone. But, of course, every little bit helps and it all adds up to make a visual difference!

Two, users are noticing a large reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. This reduction in muscle soreness may be due to the increased blood flow to the muscle during exercise when using Surge. It may also be due to the increased rates of protein turnover seen with the use of good post-workout nutrition. Regardless, double blind pilot work at the University of Western Ontario has shown reduced muscle soreness 24 and 48 hours after a bout of strength exercise when using hydrolyzed whey protein and carbohydrates vs. carbohydrate and placebo beverages.

CS: Very cool. What else are people experiencing?

JMB: A large improvement in recovery times! Whether recovery is measured by muscle soreness, mood (parameters like fatigue, vigor, etc), or force recovery (the ability to duplicate pre-workout strength tasks), Surge can contribute to enhanced recovery times, allowing for increased workout frequency without overtraining.

CS: I agree. I've noticed all those things, not to mention just overall improved and more productive workouts. Simply put, I can hit it really freaking hard in the gym without worrying too much about excess soreness or overtraining. You know, it's kinda weird when you think about it, but what you do nutrition-wise after Monday's workout really makes a difference in the quality of Tuesday's workout! I hear endurance athletes are really benefiting from post-training drinks as well.

JMB: Not only do endurance athletes benefit from the use of Surge, they actually respond better than weight trainers! If there’s one market I’d love to see embrace the use of Surge, it’s the endurance crowd.

Now before my weight training brethren crucify me for consorting with the endurance folk, let me explain my affiliation. Originally my doctoral dissertation was designed to examine the effects of a drink very similar in composition to Surge on a number of parameters related to performance and body composition. While the data collection was going well, it was quite difficult to find reproducible measures to quantify how much benefit the Surge-like drink was providing to weight trainers. As a result, I decided to do a little pilot project examining the effects of the drink on cycling recovery. Since the cycling bout we chose was very reproducible, it seemed like a good idea.

Although we didn’t expect much, after the first few subjects had been completed, my labmates and I were blown away by what we were seeing. We then turned the pilot project into a full-blown investigation. When all the results were analyzed, what we saw was nothing short of astounding.

CS: My inner geek is intrigued. Dish, man, dish!

JMB: Well, after providing subjects with a standardized breakfast, we had them come in to ride a very intense sixty-minute laboratory cycling course for distance. Then, after a six-hour break (in which we provided different recovery drinks), we brought subjects back in to ride again. We then compared the A.M. performance to the P.M. performance. Of course, after a hard sixty-minute ride in the morning, no cyclist would be able to duplicate his/her performance. However, the goal of this investigation was to minimize the performance drop-off from A.M. to P.M.

When comparing the distance traveled in the A.M. vs. the distance traveled in the P.M., the Surge-like drink outperformed the other groups by a whopping 250% (these results are statistically significant) as seen below. As you can see, the Surge-like group (P+C) had less of a performance drop than the isoenergetic carbohydrate group (C) and the isoenergetic placebo group (Pb). This group got no liquid nutrition but did get one big meal throughout the recovery period that was equal in calories to the other two conditions.

CS: You know, Berardi, I'm always kinda freaked out when you just pull charts and graphs out of your pocket like that. You've got this weird scientist-magician vibe going. Anyway, go ahead please.

JMB: Since the performance data were collected, we’ve measured all sorts of interesting things including muscle glycogen use, synthesis, and resynthesis; heart rate, power production, and oxygen consumption during the exercise bouts; blood Testosterone, growth hormone, cortisol, insulin, glucose, lactic acid, and a whole host of other markers of muscle damage and hematological parameters before, during, and after the exercise bouts. What we’re now trying to do is find a few answers as to why this beverage seems so darned effective in promoting performance recovery in endurance athletes.

These data should be analyzed over the next few months, earning me my Ph.D. as well as providing a number of research papers that I’ll probably submit for publication in 2004. Hopefully the endurance athletes out there will catch wind of this ultra-effective recovery protocol and start using a higher ratio of protein to carbs (a 1:2 ratio) during recovery. In addition, perhaps they'll embrace higher protein intakes. In this study, the P+C group got nearly 120 grams of protein during the six hour recovery period while the C group got 45 grams and the Pb group got about 70.

At least in my elite cyclists, gone are the days of carb-only recovery drinks and numerous post-workout bowls of cereal.

CS: Cool. Have you discovered any new info about post-workout drinks you didn't know before?

JMB: Yep, I have. Laboratory data seems to suggest that Surge users get more babes. While I don’t have the data analyzed yet, it seems that when given Surge vs. a placebo drink, men drinking Surge get more phone numbers and less rejections than those drinking placebo.

CS: Really?

JMB: No, but I had you going for a second there, didn't I?

CS: Punk.

JMB: Okay, seriously, Surge promotes a much more powerful insulin response than I ever expected it would. Laboratory data on fasted subjects reveals a 1000% increase in blood insulin at peak concentrations, thirty minutes after Surge ingestion. This increase is similar to what one might see with an insulin injection.

In addition, the blood glucose response to Surge is also quite surprising. Due to the huge insulin surge, blood glucose only rises by about 15% at peak and then drops precipitously down to about 40% of fasted baseline. This means that Surge is rapidly taken up into the blood and is delivered to the target tissues within 15 to 30 minutes of ingestion. That’s really quick! When using conventional glycemic index numbers, it appears that Surge actually has a negative glycemic index. But this is simply due to the fact that blood glucose clearance is so rapid there’s not much time to catch it in the blood.

For you non-science types, this simply means that Surge is so powerful that it hits the muscle almost immediately after ingestion, making it more like an infusion rather than simple ingestion.

And for you science types, it’s important to recognize that while blood glucose fell in the experiment above, if these measurements were taken during exercise, the fall wouldn't be so precipitous since exercise induced rises in catecholamines would prevent any hypoglycemic effect.

CS: Wow! Very interesting! Okay, now let's clear up a few frequently asked questions. Should a person use Surge if he's on a low carb diet?

JMB: In my opinion, if you follow the approach I’m about to suggest, you can have your Surge and your fat loss, too.

First, follow your ketogenic diet for about two weeks in order to adapt to the high fat, low carbohydrate approach. The evidence is clear that it takes this long for the central and peripheral metabolic responses to ketogenic dieting to occur. So hang in there during the first, most difficult two weeks.

Second, during the third week, you can begin using Surge as follows: sip one serving during your weight training workout, finishing it toward the end of your training. Then do your cardio after the weights. Next, have an additional serving of Surge immediately after your cardio.

CS: Will that kick you out of ketosis?

JMB: Yes. The generation of ketone bodies will be inhibited while blood carbohydrate and insulin are higher. However, it’s well known in the research that even a weekend of high carbohydrate feedings (as discussed with the cyclic ketogenic diets) doesn’t undo the metabolic adaptations associated with ketogenic dieting. So being kicked out of ketosis for a short period doesn’t really matter all that much. Remember, being "out of ketosis" doesn’t mean that fat loss has stopped.

Here's another reason why it’s okay to take Surge in the manner suggested. Since the time courses of the increases in blood glucose and blood insulin are brief (as demonstrated above), you’ll be back in ketosis very shortly after your workout and post-workout drink.

It’s my opinion that if you wait until you've adapted to your ketogenic diet, drinking a recovery drink like Surge during and after your workouts will probably not undo the adaptations you’ve earned during your first two weeks. In addition, drinking such a drink will surely kick you out of ketosis but only for a very brief period of time. Just because you’re "out of ketosis," you definitely won’t stop losing fat during this time. Besides, the enhanced muscle growth and recovery you’ll get will far toutweigh that small reduction in the rate of fat loss.

CS: I've noticed that myself. While I don't use very low carb diets anymore, I've found that Surge doesn't slow fat loss at all when I'm eating about 100 grams of carbs per day (which is as low as I go these days). In fact, it seems to speed fat loss up, probably because my workouts continue to be energetic and productive instead of flat and somnambulant.

Anyway, what are the most common mistakes Surge users are making?

JMB: There are three common mistakes I’ve recognized. First, not using enough water to dilute the Surge. With Surge it’s important to use enough water to dilute the ingredients, especially when sipping the drink during workouts.

Ideally a 5-10% concentration is desired. Therefore, if one were to use half a serving of Surge (about 45g), between 450 and 900 ml of water would be desired to dilute the powder to a 10% and 5% concentration respectively. The realities of concentration gradients and osmolality exist whether or not you recognize and respect them. If you don’t dilute your supplement drinks properly, you’ll be "pressure washing" the porcelain while jettisoning your post-workout nutrition.

Another mistake is drinking a big serving of Surge immediately prior to working out. As I demonstrated earlier, Surge has a powerful hypoglycemic effect in the non-exercise state. Therefore, if one were to drink Surge about 15 to 20 minutes prior to exercise, they'd probably have a blood sugar crash.

However, since the hormonal effects of exercise preserve blood glucose concentrations, sipping the drink throughout the exercise bout won't present a problem. Secondarily, a practical problem arises with drinking Surge prior to exercise. Working out with a liter of water sloshing around in your gut is uncomfortable.

The last mistake I've noticed people making is not eating a meal within 60 to 90 minutes after consuming their post-workout Surge. While you’re safe from hypoglycemia during the workout, low blood sugar can come back with a vengeance during the post-workout period. Therefore, it’s necessary to consume a meal 60 to 90 minutes after the post-workout drink. If not, you’ll probably experience the same sensations Tim Patterson describes back in issue #142 in his "Behind the Scenes" column. While Tim gets off on that sort of stuff, most normal individuals consider the "pre-blackout stage" that comes with low blood sugar a bit scary.

CS: Are you kidding? Watching Tim blackout and fall down the stairs is the highlight of our day around here! Okay, another common question: Can I add anything to Surge?

JMB: Originally I strongly cautioned users against adding anything to Surge. The rationale for this was the fact that I didn’t want them messing with the formula, adding all sorts of wacky insulin mimickers and secretagogues that would drop blood sugar so low that they’d be reduced to nothing but quivering masses of muscle heaped on the gym floor. To this end, I'd avoid adding any insulin mimickers, insulin secretagogues, or supplements that improve glucose tolerance. Nor did I want them adding other ingredients that might slow digestion or absorption. To this end, I suggest avoid adding fats and extra protein. Other ingredients, such as carbohydrates or creatine are okay as long as extra water is added to maintain the required 5 to 10% dilution.

CS: I've seen cheaper post-workout products on the market (although their taste is gagging, while Surge tastes like angel food cake). Why is Surge so pricey?

JMB: It’s that damn Tim Patterson! He’s your typical corporate executive: lavish parties, corporate jets, Cuban cigars, high priced madams—you know the type. In order to afford his hedonistic indulgences, he jacks up the price of all the Biotest products.

Okay, not really. Anyone who knows Tim will know how laughable that is. Look, Surge isn’t all that expensive. It's only about $2.30 per full serving if you can find a good deal. And remember, you only take it on training days. To me, that doesn’t seem so expensive.

But even if Surge is a bit pricey, it’s important to realize that each serving contains 25 grams of hydrolyzed whey protein, 50 grams of a carbohydrate blend, and 11.25 grams of supplemental, free form amino acids. While the carb sources (glucose and maltodextrin) are relatively cheap, the hydrolyzed whey and the amino acids cost a pretty penny.

In addition, since Biotest does a great job of seeking out the highest quality ingredients, it’s understandable that the cost of such a product will be a bit more than the cost of its knock-off competitors. But rather than simply deferring to the arbitrary "high quality ingredients" argument that most companies use, let me explain what I mean by high quality, especially with respect to protein.

CS: Go for it.

JMB: Most are probably aware that many of the proteins currently available are processed using different methods of separation and filtration. These processes start with something like liquid milk and end up with whey and casein powders. Based on the method of processing employed, you get things like whey concentrates, whey isolates, milk protein isolates, etc.

In the past, the isolation process wasn't as streamlined and efficient as it is today. This meant a high lactose and fat content in these original whey protein concentrates. In addition, these methods utilized high temperatures or large changes in acidity in order to concentrate either the whey or the casein. Due to these extreme treatments, whey protein products contained only 30 to 40% protein and high amounts of lactose, fat, and denatured proteins. This means the whey structure was destroyed and many of the most potent peptides in whey and casein were eliminated. Today, however, more advanced methods of isolation have been developed, yet there are still differences in protein quality.

While most protein supplements on the market use intact proteins, Surge uses protein hydrolysates. You see, whey or casein protein can be hydrolyzed (broken into smaller pieces) by enzymes that produce small chains of amino acids called peptides. This process mimics our own digestive actions. This makes hydrolysis an ideal way to process protein as long as manufacturers are careful not to denature it. Once hydrolyzed, these undenatured peptides have many benefits over and above whole protein sources.

Since the GI prefers peptides to whole proteins or amino acids, hydrolyzed proteins are more easily broken down and absorbed into the blood stream than whole protein sources. In fact, hydrolyzed proteins may be absorbed in about half the time it takes free form amino acids or whole proteins. This can lead to a more rapid delivery into the body, especially when it's needed most like after weight training workouts.

Also, hydrolyzed whey protein concentrates have a higher BV score than whey protein concentrates or other milk protein preparations. Higher BV scores translate to better processing and utilization of protein in the body. In addition, this increase in BV may increase the release of IGF-1, which can stimulate muscle growth.

CS: Weren't there some studies concerning catabolism (muscle-wasting) in this regard?

JMB: Yes, these studies have shown that hydrolysates don't stimulate the release of the catabolic hormone cortisol whereas whole intact proteins do stimulate this catabolic hormone. Finally, hydrolyzed proteins are less likely to produce allergenic effects, even in those with severe milk allergy.

Although protein hydrolysates seem to offer some nice advantages when compared to intact proteins, a word of caution is again necessary. Different hydrolysis techniques have been used to break protein down into small peptides. These techniques have had various degrees of success. Older methods of acid-based hydrolysis often led to a substantial destruction of the proteins and peptides. Also, older enzymatic methods often produced incompletely hydrolyzed products that were very bitter tasting and that also lost their functionality (YH Lee et al 1992). Fortunately, new methods of mild enzymatic hydrolysis have been developed to hydrolyze whey or casein proteins.

Obviously, with the great taste of Surge, we’ve chosen to use a very high quality enzymatic hydrolysis. This helps prevent the nasty taste that most other hydrolyzed proteins have and helps to preserve the peptide and amino acid structures. So that’s what I’m talking about when I say "high quality ingredients."

CS: Great info, John. Let me sum up some of the new info presented here before we close:

• Those who choose to ignore proper post-workout nutrition are kicking their own asses when it comes to recovery, muscle growth, and improved performance.

• Instead of using a pre-workout drink, it's better to sip it during the workout and have another serving after the workout.

• Endurance athletes would substantially improve their performance if they used post-workout drinks and upped their protein intake.

• You want a powerful insulin response after a workout. The response provided by Surge is as powerful as the insulin injections pro-bodybuilders give themselves to get the same benefit.

• You can lose fat rapidly while using Surge, even if you're on a low carb diet. The best way to reap the benefits is to keto diet for two weeks, then add Surge in the third week — half sipped during training, half consumed after. The enhanced muscle growth and recovery you’ll get will far outweigh the small reduction in the rate of fat loss and getting temporarily kicked out of ketosis.

• John Berardi gets more ass than a toilet seat. This may be related to his Surge usage, or it could be because he hangs around me and catches my abundant babe overflow.

I think that about sums it up! Thanks, John!

JMB: "Babe overflow"?

CS: Just nod your head like you're agreeing with me and I'll give you twenty bucks.

JMB: Whatever. Thanks for the interview, Chris!

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At 10:14 PM, Anonymous jamescharles3 said...

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