Piecing together an effective meal plan is a challenging but rewarding task. All of our bodies are unique and require nutrition to be specific to your body and goals. There are no cookie cutter plans that lay it all out for you and can guarantee the results you’re looking for. There are a number of formulas and calculations that can be put in place in order to help you discover the perfect breakdown, one of which you would like to start with would be to calculate your overall caloric intake for the day. This formula is described in depth in our article How to Bulk: The Right & Wrong Way. When you have your total caloric intake daily goal, we will apply that information in this article to break down the importance of nutrient timing. Below you’ll learn more about the optimal times to take in proteins, carbs, and fats to maximize lean muscle growth.
Prior to training you will want to ensure your muscles are loaded with glycogen that is readily available to be burned for fuel to power your training. When carbohydrates are ingested, the body breaks them down into a form of sugar known as glucose. In most cases, the pancreas responds when blood glucose levels are elevated, and it signals for insulin to be released to shuttle this glucose to be stored as glycogen inside skeletal muscle as well as the liver. The majority of glycogen is found inside the liver, and is distributed throughout the entire body while the minimal amounts of glycogen stored inside skeletal muscle are used to fuel those specific muscles. The body can store just about 2,000 calories of glucose as glycogen.
Consuming carbohydrates prior to your training can be greatly beneficial for your performance. While all of our bodies are unique and require different macronutrients for optimal performance, there are some general guidelines to follow. It’s recommended to aim for your pre training intake to be around one to four grams per kilogram of bodyweight. So if you weigh 200lb (90kg) and you train for one and a half hours then you would want to aim for around 135g of carbs pre training. This is a general rule of thumb and certain individuals may require different macronutrient needs. Some recommended carb sources that are nutrient dense to help fuel your training are brown/white rice, cream of rice, russet/sweet potatoes, oatmeal/buckwheat, and fruits. You may need to experiment to find what works best for your body. White rice and white potatoes digest faster and are readily available to be burned for energy and are often the top choice when it comes to pre training carbs. The remainder of your pre workout meal should consist of moderate protein and lower fats. When high amounts of fats are ingested, digestion drastically slows down. This can often leave you feeling overly full and bloated during your training session.
Following your training when glycogen has been depleted, it’s important to replenish these storages in order to jump start the recovery process. Depending on your goal, your carb:protein ratio may vary. A standard guideline targeting maintenance and cutting goals would recommend a 1:1 ratio of carbs:proteins. Carbohydrates will spike insulin levels inside the body to drive nutrients into the muscle cells. Depending on your bodyweight and after you’ve calculated your macronutrient needs, this post workout shake/meal may consist of 25-50g of protein and carbs. For those on a mission to bulk, the carb count may greatly vary from this being double or triple the protein count. Choosing your food sources can make a world of a difference when it comes to seeing results. Ideally you want to aim for a protein source rich in amino acids, where the protein is derived from an easily absorbable source, and it can be rapidly absorbed to start the recovery process inside the body.
Protein powders have been proven to truly shine post workout. Their convenience and rapid absorbability for most makes them an optimal choice for post training nutrition. There are a number of types of protein powders, each with their own set of pros/cons. Whey protein is a good protein source but its biggest drawback for many is its lactose content. Nearly 70% of people have lactose intolerance and have a negative reaction to drinking whey. Typical symptoms include gas, bloating, and other digestive issues. An an athlete, this stomach distress can affect your performance and the absorption of nutrients. One perfect solution to avoid lactose and provide your body with high concentrations of amino acids to support muscle building and recovery in beef protein isolate. MuscleMeds Carnivor bioengineered beef protein isolate has been proven for over a decade to be a powerful muscle builder with clinical research to support it. Fit for any goal, Carnivor delivers 350% more concentrated amino acid content than steak and is more concentrated than whey protein. This is key to post workout nutrition to maximize muscle growth and recovery. Hydrolyzed beef protein isolate is easily digested and utilized by the body with no stomach discomfort typically associated with whey proteins.
To learn more about Carnivor protein, check out this full breakdown.