There’s never been a clearer idea of exactly what you should be eating to help your body. And the biggest breakthrough is clear.
Protein is the new carbs.
It used to be that you needed to fuel up with carbs prior to your workout and then replenish after your workout. This all ties back to glycogen as a primary source of energy and fuel for your body. Most of the research tested the benefits of using carbohydrates as fuel, and then testing different amounts of carbs. But even that rationale was a bit flawed.
Nutrient timing should focus on three aspects that help improve your performance and appearance.
Glycogen replenishment: Glycogen is your fuel. The more you have the harder you can push your body for longer periods of time.
Protein breakdown: If you want to gain muscle, protein synthesis (anabolism) has to be greater than protein breakdown (catabolism). Protein Building – Protein Breakdown = Muscle Growth or Loss. So it only makes sense that you want to slow the breakdown process.
Protein synthesis: Eating protein after a workout is supposed to optimize the other side of the same equation by increasing muscle protein synthesis, the process that helps you repair and rebuild muscle. Combined all three of these factors influence how hard you can train (endurance, strength, work capacity), how well you recover, and your ability to build muscle and burn fat. So it only makes sense that what you eat should target any or all of these goals.
Your Carb Solution
The glycogen question seemed to have an easy answer: carbs fuel glycogen. Eat more carbs and you’ll have more energy, right? Not exactly. Depleting glycogen is actually very difficult.
For example, let’s say you did a full-body workout of 9 exercises, performed 3 sets of each exercise (so 27 sets total), and pushed at a high intensity of 80 percent of your 1 rep max. That’d be a grueling workout, but when researchers tested this exact protocol, they found that it only depleted about one-third of total glycogen stores.
Even crazier? When a similar workout was tested and followed with no food, about 75 percent of the depleted glycogen was replenished within 6 hours. So what’s going on? Your body is actually protective of your energy. The more you deplete your glycogen, the faster resynthesis occurs. The higher your intensity, the quicker you recharge.
Even in marathon runners and endurance athletes, complete resynthesis is usually complete within 24 hours.
That’s not a call to avoid carbs.
They are important and necessary, and if you’re exercising they need to be a part of your plan. But the extreme nature of pre-workout (carb loading) and post-workout (insulin spiking) carb needs were overblown. You don’t need to fuel up with hundreds of grams of fuel pre, during, and post workout because you’re not tapping out your glycogen.
When your tank is actually on empty, you won’t be able to move. So your ideal carb plan will ultimately depend on the type of activity you perform. (See “The Ultimate Guide to Workout Nutrition.”) As for protein breakdown and protein synthesis, back in 2010, research seemed to find the sweet spot for carb consumption.
That’s when it was found that 70 grams of carbs offered no additional recovery, muscle, or strength benefits compared to just 30 grams of carbs. But in that study, no protein was consumed. Then protein was added to the mix, the game changed.
When eating protein and carbs was compared to carbs alone, recovery, muscle protein synthesis, and protein breakdown were improved when protein was part of the equation.
But most interesting? When protein and carbs (25 grams of protein and 50 grams of carbs) was compared to just protein alone (25 grams), there was no additional benefit in terms of muscle protein synthesis or muscle protein breakdown when the carbs were added.
The verdict: Protein is the new king of workout nutrition. But it doesn’t end there.
While we know that protein is important for preventing muscle protein breakdown and fueling muscle protein synthesis, and some carbs (but not too much) are good for glycogen, how much you eat around your workout should not be your primary consideration.
The work of Aragon and Schoenfeld found that the most important dietary factor for performance and appearance was not how much protein or carbs you had before or after your workout, but rather how much you ate in the entire day.
In essence, even if your pre or post workout nutrition was less than optimal (say, if you’re in a rush to get to work), as long as you still ate the right amount of nutrients (proteins, carbs, and fats) for the entire day, then you would still see benefits. That’s not to say that you won’t see some psychological benefits of eating around your workouts.
Or maybe, more importantly, the closer you get to high-level goals, the more important nutrient timing becomes. So if you’re trying to go from 20 percent body fat to 15 percent, then nutrient timing can help but won’t move the needle significantly.
But if you’re already at, say, 10 percent body fat, using nutrient timing to help you become leaner becomes a valuable tool and of greater importance.
In other words, master the basics first, and then progress to more detailed areas of focus. Don’t major in the minor. Major in the major, and then—and only then—learn to master the minor.
Let’s set one thing clear: What food you put into your body is still very important and determines how hard you can exercise and how well you recover. The bigger issue is exactly what you should be eating, or maybe more importantly, when you should be eating it.
The idea of the “anabolic window” was one that struck intense fear that your muscles lived in an hourglass, and with each passing second of eating before or after a workout you were losing out on improvement.
For the past 20 years the prevailing idea was that you had about 30 to 90 minutes to eat something after your workout. If not, your body would become catabolic (a state of stress) and you would lose muscle, not recover fast enough, and fail to see the benefits from all your hard work and time invested.
When you think about it, the theory seems crazy. How could the human body have such a small window for recovery? That was the question two researchers—nutritionist Alan Aragon and exercise physiologist Dr. Brad Schoenfeld—wanted to know. So they reviewed a large number of studies that examined nutrient timing and set out to answer a simple question: Is there such thing as the “anabolic window.”
Turns out there is—but it’s much bigger than anyone ever suggested.
And the timing of your meals after a workout isn’t even the biggest indicator of your success. (More on that in a moment.) After you exercise you burn up your main energy store of carbohydrates, also known as glycogen. So it only makes sense that you need to refuel glycogen by eating lots of carbs to replace what was lost.
But when food was consumed in a shorter window of time after a workout there was no significant difference than when it was consumed after a longer delay. In fact, the research would go as far as suggest that your post-workout window is actually the entire 24 hours after you train, with the key time to eat occurring about 4 to 6 hours after you finish your last set, stop your run, or end your athletic event.
Not exactly the same message as slug your protein shake before your muscles shrink.
So how did this massive misunderstanding occur? It goes back to the sports drink phenomenon. The “glycogen emptying” idea wasn’t really applicable to the average person. In reality, it takes a tremendous effort to completely deplete your glycogen stores. Extreme marathoners can do it. Bodybuilders who train twice per day can do it. NFL athletes who play a 3-hour game can do it.
But you? It’s a different story.
Even when these ideas were tested in a lab, they didn’t follow a typical routine. Most people don’t’ go to the gym completely fasted. And yet, those were the test conditions used to determine what to eat after your workout. While it might feel like your body needs food immediately, the ROI of rushing to or even forcing food into your system is minimal. No added strength. No improved endurance. And no boost in recovery. The new rules focus on the bigger picture. What you eat before your workout, what you eat after, and what type of activity you perform.
Below are some simple and highly recommended mobility movements that we recommend to all our athletes when they start down the mobility path.
Band Shoulder Distraction
Using the Bands to enhance the stretch in the Shoulder/Lat region is key to a better working joint. Once we mobilize these structures around the joint it will be far easier to throw stuff overhead, or smash out bunches of pull ups and muscle ups.
For the overhead one, place your hand in the band. Get hold of it and walk back till you feel some tension. Fold at the hips like you are bowing forward. Keep knees soft and turn your palm up (external rotation). Keep square and push your chest to the floor. You should feel it stretch through your Lat and back of shoulder. Hang there for at least a minute each side.
For the first chest one turn away away from the object you have attached the band. Your thumb is aiming at the roof, BUT don’t let go of the band. Let the knuckle face up. Feel the stretch on the chest and across the front of the shoulder. If you not feeling it the slowly turn your chest away from the band, use small steps to ensure your feet are under you and your body is upright.
For the last one, do all of the above BUT your thumb will face down and this will send the stretch into your Bicep. Note that the Tendon that connects your Bicep to your shoulder attaches inside the shoulder joint at the front.
Spend minimum of 1 min per arm.
6 Position Hip Opener
We need to mobilize where we SUCK. For many of us the bottom position of the Squat is a problem and thus it is here we should attack.
For positions 1/2/3 your foot will be anchored flat to the ground with your knee driven to the outside. Position 1 has your chest facing forward. 2 has the chest turned towards your leg and 3 has the chest turned away. Keep you back as flat as possible, much like it needs to be in the bottom of the Squat.
Positions 4/5/6 have the side of the foot on the ground. The foot needs to be placed on the center line of the body. Think in line with your belly button. Keep the knee up. Same chest positions as 1/2/3.
Oscillate in these positions, don’t just sit there, work deep into your hip capsule and hip flexors. The movement will sort of floss the capsule and the surrounding tissues and loosen things up.
Top 2 pictures are for position 1/2/3 and the bottom one is for position 4/5/6
Get on your Mobility! Spend 30sec per position, your Squat will love you.
Pain Ball in the Back of the Shoulder
So on Twitter I posted the pic of the back of the shoulder ball Smash.
Purpose: The body has many BIG muscles used to internally rotate the shoulder, BUT not many to externally rotate it.
Prescription: Get a Pain Ball and wedge it in the back of your shoulder while lying down as per the pic. Put some pressure on it with your body and you will soon discover the Suck Zone. Arm goes out to the side and bend the elbow 90%. This will help get the ball in the correct spot too. Apply some pressure to the ball in the shoulder and move the palm down to the floor, then back to the start position and the take the knuckles to the ground. Do Not allow your Elbow to slide on the floor, use it as a fulcrum.
Think of a rubber band. One end is thick and the other end is thin. If two people pulled on the band, the person holding the thin end would have that end stretch far more than the person holding the thick end. That is how many of our muscles are laid out on our skeleton. That is why when we do a hamstring stretch we feel it around the knee and not really up into the butt. The hamstring attaches at the hip and then crosses the knee, the butt bit is the thick part and the knee bit is the thin part.
We also have ligaments which connect bone to bone. Tendons which connect muscle to bone so we can move our skeleton and a bunch of joint capsules to keep our joints in place. All of these structures are covered by skin, all of these structures overlap each other all over our body in differing levels of frequency. When we move in daily life, NOT even talking WOD’s, the skin slides over the underlying surfaces and they in turn slide over each other. This causes things to become glued down.
That is why Movement and Mobility combine to restore sliding surface integrity and range of motion. Movement focusses on being in an organized position during whatever we do, if we adhere to that we will allow our bodies to be mobile in the functional ranges of movement we need, for us that is CrossFit which means we need to do anything and everything. Correct form when executing the exercise in a WOD goes a long way to helping us become more mobile.
Mobility uses rollers, balls, kegs, bands, Super Friends and stretching techniques to help us improve our position, not nessasrily to get into splits. We need to look at what our movement goal is and program from there.
Think of your daily work week, all day everyday you sit. Sitting becomes your default position. Your hip muscles become short and your bum muscles become long. When you hit the Box in the evening and you need to Squat or Jump or Oly Lift you actually want your hip muscles to be long to allow you to gain full extension and your bum muscles to be able to shorten at a rapid rate so you can drive out of the bottom of a Squat or receive the Oly Lift and bounce out the hole. However you have done nothing to correct the BAD position you have been in all day, so you cannot expect super glory in a WOD or Comp.\
That is why there is NO REST day for Movement and Mobility. 15-20mins EACH day EVERYDAY will accumulate and start helping not only to excel at CrossFit, but daily life in general.
CrossFit states that physical fitness has 10 distinct components, namely strength, speed, power, agility, stamina, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, balance, co-ordination and accuracy. To be truly fit, you have to develop all these characteristics and become a complete athlete. CrossFit combines the disciplines of Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Strongman, gymnastics and single modality conditioning (e.g. running) into constantly varied, high intensity workouts.