Anabolic Nutrition

By: Alex Liska
Nutrition plays a huge role in gaining and maintaining lean muscle mass. Without proper nutrition, your body is at risk of entering a "catabolic" state where it begins breaking down muscle for energy. The key here is to eat the right nutrients at the right times and keep your body burning fat for fuel versus burning proteins and muscle mass!
I will start by briefly discussing the importance of eating as soon as you wake up! After a long phase of fasting over night, we naturally awake in a catabolic state! Essentially if we could consume small portions of protein and dietary fats every 2-3 hours throughout the night we could prevent this from happening, but this is not very realistic as we need adequate rest to recover and wake up feeling energetic! Therefore, as soon as you wake up , having breakfast should be your FIRST thought! Go to the bathroom, wash your face and head straight into the kitchen!
For some people, the thought of having breakfast may seem foreign or inconvenient, or you may simple "not feel hungry" which leads to skipping this essential meal! Well, I would suggest consuming a liquid breakfast such as a shake, where you can add protein (whey isolate), fibrous complex carbs (berries/greens), and a healthy dietary fat source (avocado/nuts/seeds/oils/flax). The key here is to incorporate all three essential nutrients: protein (for muscle maintenance, growth and repair), essential fats (to give you long-lasting energy, fuel your brain, lubricate your joints, and help burn fat for fuel), and of course, fibrous carbohydrates (to help facilitate bowel movements as well as give you energy).
The majority of your calories should come from protein, then I would suggest a 50/50 split between carbs and healthy fats. The protein will provide your body with the necessary amino acids to heal and repair muscle tissue, and promote lean muscle growth and prevent your body from breaking down muscle for energy.The fats will help your bones absorb protein, and will also assist your body in mobilizing fat stores as it will identify fat as its main fuel source. Carbohydrates provide you with fiber, bulk and will also help you feel energized. By eliminating them completely you may upset your body's natural hormone balance, leading to an "unhappy thyroid", feeling confused, brain fog, and tiredness just to name a few. We don't want to over consume carbs however because once your muscles glycogen stores are full your liver will begin to store these carbs as body-fat! 
A lot of folks that are trying to lose excess weight sometimes take fat-burners, correct? Well, I can say one thing, if your diet is very low in dietary fats and you are consuming a lot of carbohydrates (sugar/starches), your body doesn't even recognize fat as a fuel source, so taking fat-burners is pointless; all it will do is wreck your metabolism and upset your hormones. A fat-burner can be useful but only if your body recognizes FAT as its primary fuel source. In this case, you can simply rely on your metabolism to mobilize fat stores by consuming natural fat burners such as caffeine, grapefruit/citrus fruits (high in "naringin" a natural fat burning compound) just to name a few and by staying active and burning more calories!
-Aim to consume 5-8 small meals a day consisting of protein/fats/fiber to keep your metabolism running fast! Let's look at portion sizes, the smaller the portion and the more frequent you are eating, the faster your metabolism will be. Smaller portions also decrease your body's insulin response, helping control hunger and cravings.

-Opt. for natural food sources, with the exception of whey protein isolate. Whole/natural foods contain a higher biological value/absorbency rate and promote thermogenesis (the fat-burning state that everybody that diets and wants to lose fat is aiming for!) Your body has to work harder to burn off natural foods than highly processed goods therefore your metabolism will be faster.

-Focus on controlling your body's insulin response and keeping your body in an alkaline state. If your body enters an "acidic state" where your PH levels are no longer alkaline, you may suffer a loss of electrolytes and prevent the absorption of nutrients. By consuming strictly carbohydrates and protein your body will naturally produce more insulin which leads to insulin resistance in the long run. Make sure to add a dietary fat source to any carbohydrate/protein meals (e.g. oats and whey protein - when consumed individually the glycemic index of the meal is more moderate, however when combined the G.I. goes up dramatically, increasing your body's insulin response! So make sure to add a healthy fat to a meal such as this).
-Take a daily multi-vitamin! In a perfect world we would be able to obtain all necessary vitamins/minerals from the foods we eat, but with GMO's and food processing these days it's hard to rely solely on the foods we eat to make sure we are getting all of our vitamins!

-Take an essential fatty acids/fish oils supplement to accelerate fat loss, increase your energy levels and of course to obtain "essential fats" in your diet. These Omega 3-6-7 and 9 fats are referred to as 'essential' because our bodies do not produce them therefore we must rely on foods high in fatty acids as well as supplement with fish-oils! I am currently taking "O3mega Extra Strength" fish oil capsules by 'Genuine Health'. All you need is 2 capsules a day and you have your daily dosage of fish oils.

-Take a greens/algae-containing supplement to obtain iodine (found in sea-weed/kelp/spirulina) and other rare trace minerals that cannot be found in other food sources. "Greens Plus" is a great supplement that you can add to your protein shakes to increase algae/iodine content which is great for a healthy thyroid. You may also consider taking "Spirulina" (blue/green algae- comes in tablet and powder form) and/or "Kelp" (sea weed extract in capsule form) to help your thyroid obtain and absorb adequate amounts of iodine.

-Remember that pre, during and post-workout nutrition are crucial when trying to build and maintain lean muscle mass. You need proper fuel from your pre-workout meal in order to feel energetic at the gym: consume lean proteins/dietary fat and a fibrous carb source before working out. During your workout, you may want to look at taking BCAA's (Branched Chained Amino Acids- A/K/A- the building blocks of protein) OR sipping on protein-infused water (mix 1/2 scoop - 10-15 grams whey isolate in 500-750mls water) with Glutamine (essential amino acid responsible for muscle recovery) and perhaps Creatine Monohydrate (2-5 grams - helps draw water to your muscles and produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) - Energy!!!). By combining these in a shaker cup or water bottle you can sip on it during your workout and assure that your body will remain anabolic.
After your workout, your body naturally will produce more insulin so we want to look at consuming a meal which will ensure proper absorption of protein and lower this insulin response. Insulin will help you absorb protein when it is high but can also increase your cravings if it remains high after your post-workout meal. If you have consumed your "during workout" nutrition then you may have your post-workout meal (protein/fats/fiber). If not, you may have a scoop of whey protein isolate mixed in water and consume your next meal 45-60minutes following this.

-Don't forget to incorporate CHEAT DAYS into your diet!!! There is nothing more torturous than the feeling of "dieting" forever. Remember, BALANCE is key! Even when I am dieting down for a figure competition, I STILL CHEAT. Whether every sports nutrition expert out there would agree with this theory or not, we are humans, and it is human nature to crave things that we shouldn't be eating on a regular basis. By having a cheat meal 1-2 times a week (depending on how clean you are eating) you are able to kill those horrid cravings and continue along with a healthy eating regimen. If you are craving something and have been eating healthy all week, pick a day, set a meal-time for your cheat and indulge! This will help jolt your metabolism and also help you regain mental focus. Don't feel guilty after a cheat meal, it has a purpose. Continue eating healthy and you will continue to burn fat for fuel, gain and maintain lean muscle mass!

Sports Nutrition is a very "in-depth" topic but I believe I have covered the most important components of Anabolic Nutrition. I will be posting more tips/tricks on how to stay anabolic and in the fat-burning zone on the home-page of this blog so stay tuned for more...


Alex L.:).
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1 comment:

  1. I like!

    I have been, more or less, living this way for well over 20 years. For me, long term, the most important part of any weight control/ management regime, is to have a cheat day! Without that freedom, to 'let off steam' and eat foods 'that stroke the soul' the whole task is ultimately doomed to failure. When I am really good, I drop it down to one cheat meal a week. When I am feeling 'hard done by' or 'a little sorry for myself' then I make very good use of the whole day!

    Keep it up Alex :o)