In the world of fitness there are always people/articles/websites that will give you information about how and when to train. There are always new and better ways written to gain results “fast and easy!” You hear it on infomercial’s all the time… “its as easy as 10 minutes a day!” or something to that variation. If it was easy, came in the form of a shake or pill, or available on DVD – then EVERYBODY would be fit!
Below, you will find some of the most asked questions, statements, myths and comparisons to help guide you in the right direction.
When is the best time to have a PROTEIN shake?
The best times to take ANY protein drink or protein supplements are as follows.
I’ve listed them in order of importance, so based upon what you can afford, start at the top of the list and work down.
WHEN SHOULD YOU TAKE IT?
- The most important time is right after a workout. Your muscles are like a sponge and need instant nutrition for muscle recovery and growth. Much like drinking water when you are dehydrated, your body absorbs more protein within a 30minute window after your workout.
- Right before bed. You’re about to sleep for 6 to 8 hours. That’s a long time without protein. Could you imagine going throughout your day (when awake) not eating 6 to 8 hours?
- Right upon waking. Same thing, you’ve just gone 6 to 8 hours without proper nutrition. Your body needs protein quick.
- Half hour before a workout. This sets up the “anabolic window” before your workout and provides your muscles with adequate nutrition so that the effects of weight training (weight training breaks down muscle-called catabolic) are not as severe.
FASTED CARDIO Burns more body fat faster…
We’ve all heard it before, the theory that doing cardio on an empty stomach after an overnight fast sends fat burning into overdrive. If only it were true.
In 1999, Bill Phillips published his bestselling fitness book, Body-for-LIFE, which promised a body transformation in 12 weeks.
In his cardio chapter, Phillips put forth the theory that performing aerobic exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach maximizes fat loss.
His rationale was as follows: A prolonged absence of food brings about a reduction in circulating blood sugar, causing glycogen (stored carbohydrate) levels to fall. What Bill is saying is that leaves your body no choice but to rely more on fat to fuel your workouts.
The strategy became popular with bodybuilders and other physique athletes striving to get as lean as possible. After all, who wouldn’t want to burn more fat while expending the same amount of effort?
“More E.P.O.C. (Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption) equals more fat burned. This favors eating prior to performing cardio.”
There’s also the matter of intensity to consider. Research indicates that high-intensity interval training is more effective than steady-state cardio for fat loss (In fact, Bill Phillips wrote a Cardio Interval exercise in his book that is a fantastic read and exercise).
In order to perform at a high level, your body needs a ready source of glycogen. Without that source, the intensity of the training is non-existent. The net result is that fewer calories are burned both during and after exercise, thereby diminishing total fat loss.
Any way you slice it, sacrificing hard-earned muscle in a futile attempt to burn a few extra calories from fat doesn’t make a lick lot of sense–especially if you’re a bodybuilder!
TO CARDIO OR NOT TO CARDIO BEFORE BREAKFAST
Summing up, the strategy to perform cardio on an empty stomach is misguided, particularly for physique athletes. At best, the effects on body composition won’t be any better than if you trained in a fed state; at worst, you’ll lose muscle and reduce total fat loss.
So if you should eat…what should you eat prior to cardio?
The answer depends on several factors, including the duration and intensity of training, the timing of previous meals before the cardio session, and individual genetics. A good rule of thumb is to consume approximately 1/4 gram of carbohydrate and 1/8 gram of protein per pound of your ideal bodyweight (which may differ from your actual weight). For example, if your ideal bodyweight is 200 pounds, then your pre-workout meal should consist of approximately 50 grams of carbs and 25 grams of protein. A shake made of natural fruit juice and whey protein is a good option, particularly if cardio is done early in the morning before breakfast. Of course, individual response to macronutrient intake will vary, so use this recommendation as a starting point, and adjust accordingly. See our “Macro” blog for more information.
Steady Cardio vs HIIT for Weight Loss
Steady-state cardio and HIIT are convenient, versatile, and safe ways to develop your cardiovascular system. You can do them virtually anywhere with a minimum of equipment; you can switch up your activity at will (from running to stair climber to elliptical); and you don’t need a lot of coaching to do them effectively. In practice, however, the two styles of training are very different.
Steady-state cardio workouts are as simple as they come. Perform your activity at a steady, challenging-but-manageable pace (60 to 70 percent of maximal capacity) for 20 minutes or more, aiming for a Target Heart Rate (220-Your Age then multiplied by .65 and .85).
H.I.I.T. workouts are slightly more complex. Perform your activity as hard as you can (90 to 100 percent of maximal capacity) for a brief, set time period (usually two minutes or less), then back off for a predetermined rest interval (usually three minutes or less), and repeat the cycle four times or more.
Steady-state cardio is aerobic: It requires oxygen and is fueled mostly by stored fat. H.I.I.T., by contrast, is anaerobic: The work intervals don’t rely exclusively on oxygen, and are fueled mostly by stored carbohydrates. (Counterintuitively, H.I.I.T. makes you breathe harder, and burns more fat, than steady-state cardio.
Both types of exercise measurably improve a number of important health and fitness markers, particularly when you first take them up. Your blood pressure drops, metabolism improves, and VO2 max — a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen your body can process — goes up.