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Bagels are a popular preworkout food, but if you look at their glycemic index, it's a whopping 103. The corresponding insulin response will not only decrease energy stores for exercise, but it will also prevent fat breakdown.

more than 24 hours.1314 In other words, the body is primed for the acceptance of protein for muscle maintenance and growth. Equally important is the need for consuming plenty of carbohydrates. After you work out, your body is somewhat depleted of its glycogen stores. Remarkably, studies have shown that high-glycemic carbohydrates are the preferred source for replenishing the body's energy stores after training.15 Not only does that result in greater storage for recovery and subsequent workouts, but it also significantly decreases muscle breakdown.16

Postworkout meals should contain about twice the normal amount of carbohydrates and protein, and you should eat them immediately following exercise. For example, if you were eating five meals per day and 3,000 calories, your postworkout meal would be approximately 1,000 calories, while the other four meals would average 500. Postworkout meals should also contain a larger percentage of protein than preworkout meals to keep up with the body's elevated protein synthesis rate.

People make a lot of mistakes with the preworkout meal. How many fitness enthusiasts eat a bagel before exercise? Due to their alleged energy benefits, bagels are a popular preworkout food, but if you look at their glycemic index, it's a whopping 103. The detrimental effects of eating such high-glycemic carbs before training are monumental. The corresponding insulin response will not only decrease energy stores for exercise, but it will also prevent fat breakdown. Fortunately, low-glycemic foods have much the opposite effect. They improve exercise performance without significantly compromising energy stores after a workout.917 That, in turn, leads to enhanced recovery and accelerated progress.


A suggested meal plan [such as the one at the back of this book] isn't perfect. You'll need to tinker in order to determine the ideal diet for you. Building a physique takes time, dedication and consistency, and losing or gaining weight should be a gradual process to ensure the right kind of changes. Don't rush it, stay focused and consistent, and you'll move ever closer to physical excellence.

Editor's note: Jeffery Stout, Ph.D., received his doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He specializes in neuromuscular fatigue, body composition and ergogenic aids and has published more than 70 manuscripts, abstracts and national presenta -tions in nationally and internationally recognized journals. He's cur -rently an assistant professor and the director of the Human Performance Research Laboratory at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. In addition, he serves on the editorial board for Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.


1 Tarnopolsky, M.; MacDouball, M.; and Atkinson, S. (1988). Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean mass. JAppl Physiol. 65:187-193.

2 Lemon, R. (1991). Protein and amino acid needs of the strength athlete. Int. J Sport Nutr. 1:127-145.

3 Bagghle, T. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Champagne, Illinois :Human Kinetics. 1994.

4 Rinchardt, K. Effects of diet on muscle strength gains during resistive training. In: Muscle Development: Nutritional Alternatives to Anabolic Steroids. Columbus, Ohio: Ross Laboratories. 1987. 78-82.

5 Van Zant, R.; Conway, J.; and Seale, J. (1992). Effects of dietary carbohydrate restriction on high-intensity exercise performance. MedSci Sports Exerc. 24:S71.

6 Alford, B.; Blankenship, A.; and Hagen, R. (1990). The effects of variations in carbohydrate, protein and fat content of the diet upon weight loss, blood values and nutrient intake of adult obese women. J Am Diet Assoc. 90(4):534-540.

7 Golay, A., et al. (1996). Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 63(2):174-178.

8 Walberg-Rankin, J. (1995). A review of nutritional practices and needs of bodybuilders. J Strength and CondResearch. 9(2): 116-124.

9 Kirwan, I., et al. (1996). A low-glycemic meal 45 minutes before exercise improves performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2815(8):8768.

10 Volek, J.; Kraemer, W.; Bush, J.; Incledon, T.; and Bocics, M. (1997). Testosterone and Cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol. 82(l):49-54.

11 Reed, M., et al. (1987). Dietary lipids an additional regulator of plasma levels of sex-hormone-binding globulin .J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 64:1083-1085.

12 Raben, A., et al. (1997). Serum sex hormones and endurance performance after a lacto-ovo vegetarian and a mixed diet. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 24:1290-1297.

13 MacDougall, J., et al. (1995). The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Can J Appl Physiol. 29(4):480-486.

14 Biolo, G., et al. (1995). Increased rates of muscle protein turnover and amino acid transport after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol. 268(3):E514-520.

15 Burke, L.; Hargreaves, M.; and Collier, G. (1993). Muscle glycogen storage after prolonged exercise: effect of the glycemic index of carbohydrate feedings. J Appl Physiol. 74:1019-1023.

16 Roy, B., et al.(1996). The effect of oral glucose supplements on muscle protein synthesis following resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 28(5S):S769.

17 Thomas, D.; Brotherhood, J.; and Miller, J. (1994). Plasma glucose levels after prolonged strenuous exercise correlate inversely with glycemic response to food consumed before exercise. Int. J Sport Nutr. 4(4):361-373.

Additional References

Anderson, K., et al. (1987). Diet-hormone interactions; protein/carbohydrate ratio alters reciprocally the plasma levels of testosterone and Cortisol and their respective binding globulins in man. Life See. 40:1761-1768.

Foster-Powell, K., and Miller, J. (1995). International tables of glycemic index. Am J Clin Nutr. 62(1):8715-8905.

Kenn, N., et al. (1997). Weight loss is greater with consumption of large morning meals and fat-free mass is preserved with large evening meals in women on a controlled weight-reduction regimen. J Nutr. 127(1) :75-82.

Rabinowitz, D., and Ziebler, L. (1963). Suggested variations in plasma insulin and HGH concentrations during one feast-famine cycle. Nature. 199:913-915.

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