By Austin Gwaltney ACE-CPT, USAW, B.S., FMS II
Often, we get mixed up in the mumbo jumbo of diets or different juice cleanses to make us “healthier” (and force us buy baby wipes) sorry had to go there ;). As we all know in the back of our mind, this is probably not the right way to go about nutrition. With this being said, if we go back to science, we can adopt some strategies which will aid us in forming simple, long term habits which can produce long term results and performance increases.
Now, we are going to assume we are trying to improve body composition, reduce fat gain, and increase lean tissue gain.
Continuing from here, prepare your mind, here comes the science! Glycogen (your storage form carbohydrates) is stored in muscle tissue and the liver. The average person holds about 1,500-2,000 calories of stored glycogen. Converted into grams, your liver stores about 100g of glycogen (your storage form of carbohydrates) and your muscles store approximately 400g of glycogen.
How does this help me?
After exercise, your glycogen ( I will just call them carbs going forward for simplicity’s sake), will be partially depleted, not completely depleted, as that would cause fainting etc.
What can I do immediately to take advantage of this information?
Simply, consume 30- 60 grams of starchy carbs within 2 hours after exercise. Your body will shuttle them to muscles and liver instead of storing them as fat.
Now what happens if I haven’t exercised, I ate an entire pizza the evening before, and my glycogen stores are full. After this pizza rampage, I go eat a cup of ice cream? Since your muscles and liver are full of carbs already there is only one more place for this energy to go, (queue the scary music)… fat storage!
With this being said, a strategy or rule which takes these facts into consideration and can help you improve body composition is as follows: Eat starchy and dense carbohydrates after sleep ( you burn carbs during sleep) or after exercise and consume remaining carbs that consits of fibrous carbs i.e. veggies and most legumes.
If you follow this strategy it will improve body composition. Try it out and let us know how it goes!
Want more info on this topic? Check out my video on carbs.
Go Eat Your Carbs! 🙂
Ortenblad, N et al., Muscle Glycogen Stores and Fatigue. Journal of Physiology (2013). Accessed on September 15, 2016.