First off, I wish everyone reading this a Happy New Year and I hope you all have a good year. I hope for peace in the Middle East too. And peace on Earth. Stop fighting!! LOL…
You might be wondering why my subject title of this post has differed from the previous in that there is now the addition of a “pre-workout light meal”?
Well, it’s all because this has been the new regime I’ve been trying out the past week or so. I’ve done 3 workout sessions on this regime now and I have to say, it has enabled me to perform more reps than before.
I started this after reading this article, which says that eating a light meal prior to workout which includes some protein and carbs will give you more energy and power to do more reps. I was not sure if it will work for me. I hoped it would, because sometimes I feel like I am plateauing a little. I just can’t get a significant increase in the number of reps over what I can usually do. A significant increase would be like 4 or 5 more than usual, since I lift a bit heavy for myself (I want to bulk you see, even if my body shape is ectomorphic and naturally beanpole). It turned out it did work. I manage to do more reps on average now with the same exercise routine, compared to previously when I used to train on a completely empty stomach after fasting.
I also noted a comment at the bottom of the article where someone says he/she recommends eating the light meal 30 mins before training. Well I experimented with that in a way - not purposely. One day I ate a light meal, got sidetracked on Facebooking, and started working out much later than 30 mins after the food. I think it was about an hour or slightly more. I wasn’t hungry yet by then but my stomach felt half empty already by then. And yes on that day, I didn’t manage as many reps as the other 2 workout days when I made sure I worked out about 30 to 40 mins give or take, after the light meal.
Usually this light meal, for me, consists of a large-sized boiled egg and 2 rice cakes with butter and some marmalade spread on them. And some water.
Then usually, within half an hour of finishing the workout, I would drink a protein shake and eat 2 more rice cakes or some other starchy foods with it.
On another note, Brad Pilon recently wrote on his FB status that he was going to revise his “How Much Protein?” book based on some new research. One of the comments asked if he had any thoughts about this recently published paper. It is very recent. It is dated 27th November 2012. And Brad said yes.
Now I’m not trained in biology or nutrition so I could only try to understand what the practical ramifications of that paper could be. Some basic vocab I had to get accustomed to :
Anabolic, which means “building up”, i.e. increase in muscle size
Catabolic, which means “breaking down”, i.e. similar to muscle atrophying or getting smaller I think
Anyway so, I skimmed the article (it is full of chemical/nutritional/scientific jargon which I can’t claim to fully understand) and noted mainly the Summary and the Conclusion. In the Summary, it said (note that all parts of the study that I’ve copied and pasted onto here will be in bold) :
Several recent publications indicate that the maximum stimulation of muscle protein fractional synthetic rate occurs with intake of 20–30 g protein. This finding has led to the concept that there is a maximal anabolic response to protein intake with a meal, and that the normal amount of protein eaten with dinner will generally exceed the maximally-effective intake of protein.
What this means to me, is that in the recent past, several studies indicate that there is a maximal amount of protein needed per meal to build larger muscles. In other words, previous studies have indicated that there is no point eating over that amount, it wouldn’t improve your gains that much. Just stick to 20-30g per meal.
However, protein breakdown has not been taken into account when evaluating the anabolic response to protein intake. Protein anabolism occurs only when protein synthesis exceeds protein breakdown.
Higher protein intakes when protein synthesis is maximized is characterized by suppressed protein breakdown and via that mechanism leads to a greater anabolic response. This explains why when net protein synthesis is measured, the relationship between amino acid availability and net gain remains linear, without any apparent plateau of effect at higher levels of availability.
Well, I don’t understand the mechanics behind it exactly, but what this says to me is that there seems to be a problem with the way studies were concluded in the past regarding the 20-30g maximal amount of protein per meal for muscle-building hypothesis. And this study’s authors have found that it was flawed.
We conclude that there is no practical upper limit to the anabolic response to protein or amino acid intake in the context of a meal.
So this study’s authors have concluded that actually, in contrary to previous studies, there is actually no such thing as a 20-30g maximal amount of protein/amino acid intake. You can actually eat more, if you like, and it could make a difference.
And the Conclusion here (I’ve snipped off a huge chunk of it and only left the part that contains the gist of the message) :
The practical implication of this conclusion is that protein nutrition can be improved by increasing the protein intake at breakfast and lunch and maintaining a high amount of protein intake with dinner, or increasing the amount of protein eaten with dinner if that is more convenient. Alternatively, replacing low quality proteins with high quality proteins, containing higher levels of a balanced essential amino acid mixture, will additionally stimulate protein anabolism.
So let me make it into point form for you here. It seems the study concludes that you can enhance your body’s absorption and utilisation of proteins to build muscle after workout by doing any of the following :
a) Eat more protein than usual for brekkie, lunch and dinner.
b) Eat the usual amount of protein during brekkie and lunch but eat MORE protein than usual for dinner.
c) Replace low quality proteins with high quality proteins. High quality proteins are proteins that contain higher levels of a balanced essential amino acid mixture. I think your typical whey protein shake containing BCAAs would count. But also not forgetting natural proteins found in meat and dairy. And low quality proteins I would assume are vegetable proteins, like those found in legumes.
Anyway, I was a bit disappointed really. I mean, what does this study tell me that I haven’t already heard elsewhere?
But since Brad Pilon is going to add his thoughts about this study in his new edition of the “How Much Protein?” book, I suppose you could get the book and see what he has to say about this. It obviously goes against what he said in the book in the previous edition anyway. FYI I think he said in the previous edition that it’s not necessary to eat more protein to build muscle. I don’t know what he’s gonna say now. Maybe he will refute this or point out inaccuracies in the study. Or maybe he might change his tune slightly. I don’t know. In any case, I doubt I am going to get the new edition. Simply because my pockets are tight this month - I’m going down to Birmingham for a short 2 day trip with my girls for a Science event at the Thinktank Museum :-)