Quite busy lately, therefore the lack of posts. But I’m still alive and here comes some more questions & answers.


The window of opportunity

Q: Understanding that a caloric surplus is required for muscle building, is there a window post workout where nutrient partitioning is greater towards muscle building? I would think that the nutrient partitioning “curve” would ultimately swing back to muscle maintenance or fat gain in the absence of muscle stimulus, but the question is how long after that stimulus?

A: Have a pre-workout meal, train, go home and fix yourself a big meal. No need to count minutes or stress about this stuff. The 1-3 hours figure is for fasted-state training and not applicable to how most people go about their diet and training*. The ‘window of opportunity’ for nutrient partitioning post workout is much longer than a mere 3 hours.**

And since this question usually comes up in this context, never train completely fasted. Have some BCAAs/whey beforehand.

  • * Protein synthesis peaks acutely 1-3 hours post-workout and it is advantageous to have amino acids circulating in your blood stream during this period. Studies show that participants ingesting protein during this time frame gain more muscle – but these studies are performed on completely fasted individuals. For someone ingesting protein through a pre-workout meal or other source of protein pre-workout, those amino acids would be used for protein synthesis (making it less essential to stress about the post-workout shake).
  • ** Protein synthesis is elevated above baseline for at least 24-36 hours after weight training.

Late night hunger

Q: It seems like lately, I have been getting a case of the late night (around 9pm or so) munchies. I usually eat dinner around 5:30 everyday, but I always seem to get hungry around the same time. I have always heard that you shouldn’t have carbs within a few hours of bedtime, is there any merit to this?

A: One of my biggest downfalls before coming up with the 16-8 system/IF was late night hunger. The best solution was the simplest one, which meant eating a lot more before bedtime. Irrational fear of fat gain, much a consequence of the don’t-eat-carbs-after-x pm-bullshit-myth, held me back from doing it in the past. I did my reading, figured out there wasn’t much to it, and decided to try a different approach. Finally got lean as hell eating big in the evening, sometimes way past midnight. Lesson learned. Hope that answered your question (hint: a big fat no).

Catabolic cardio?

Q: Is there any way to perform cardio in a way that limits its catabolic effects? Is their any benefit to doing submaximal intervals vs. steady state?

A: The type of cardio that has the least impact on your recovery capabilities/gym performance will be the least “catabolic”. If your conditioning is not adequate, don’t play around too much with HIIT. Go with low impact cardio performed for duration rather than intensity if you want to play it safe, and if metabolic conditioning is of a lesser priority than fat loss.

Sodium and weight loss

Q: When I used to have to cut weight for wrestling I would eliminate sodium content about 3 days prior and see a nice drop. Also, drinking about a gallon of distilled water always makes me eliminate a lot of water retention(yes more than just chugging tap water)… purely anecdotal I realize and of course that might just be for the lack of sodium in distilled water. Any truth to this?

A: Yes, cutting sodium, or rather reducing it compared to your daily baseline intake, will cause you to shed water. Reduce sodium for a day and odds are you’ll wake up a little lighter – but you’ll bounce back on day 3, since this only works in the very short term. The hormones regulating water balance adapts rapidly (and you need to reduce sodium further to drop more water). And you’re right on the other claim, as tap water usually contains (very) small amounts of sodium.

Fat loading

Q: Basically, we all know about carb-loading. This author promotes fat loading of 12-24 hrs, saying it will jack up the enzymes involved with burning fat. Drop the dietary fat back down low, and the enzymes will remain high for several days, helping to increase the rate at which body fat is burned. Thoughts?

A: Let’s see

  1. IMTG stores are extremely small vs glycogen stores
  2. dietary fat has much less of an impact on leptin vs carbs
  3. excess dietary fat gets stored efficently as adipose tissue vs carbs

Yeah, sounds like a great concept. Like carb loading, without any of the benefits.

Lyle McDonald chimed in:

Everything I”ve seen shows that the increase in fat use for fuel has everything to do with reducing carbs and nothing to do with increasing dietary fat per se.

Consider that the body will shift to using fat for fuel under the following conditions

  1. lowcarb/ketogenic diet
  2. protein sparing modified fast
  3. complete starvation

What’s the commonality? The lack of carbs. NOT the presence of dietary fat.

The bottom line is this, ingestion of dietary fat has very little impact on the body’s use of fat for fuel and this has been shown endlessly.

EFA and growth hormone

Q: I was arguing with my friend regarding this issue. He stated that EFA (Essential Fatty Acids) slowed down the release of GH (Growth Hormone), however, i disagreed with him. We had this bet over it and i was wondering whats the truth behind this?

A: Eating anything affects basal levels of GH. Starve and you’ll have high basal GH all the time. However, diet does not interfere with the nocturnal and the two daily pulses (though they are augmented with fasting). I am unaware of anything specifically related to EFA* and it’s probably bullshit, as I have looked into this quite a bit.

* I would expect EFAs to affect GH no differentely than any other fatty acid, which is by lowering it.