Don’t forget nutrition

Time Magazine recently published an article that concluded exercise does not help with weight loss.  That’s’ not entirely true, but nor is it entirely false: When it comes to weight loss, food is a bigger factor than exercise.

I am not saying don’t exercise.  Quite the opposite.  Exercise is crucial to living a long and happy life.  If done properly, it can improve your mood, reduce back pain, increase self-esteem, improve your heart health, and help you to maintain strong bones and muscles as you age so that you can be one of those people who are still skiing and running in their 80s.  I know I want to be one of those people.

Let’s not forget nutrition though.  One of the most renowned experts in the field of sports nutrition is Dr. John Berardi, who has done great work in helping us understand the importance of what and when we should eat.

Berardi has written several books, including The Metabolism Advantage, and his amazing nutrition system, Precision Nutrition, both of which I highly recommend.  My favourite piece by Berardi is actually a free article on his website called “The Science of Nutrient Timing”.  I have included the link to the full article below, and encourage anyone interested in nutrition to go and read it, but here’s the gist:

Berardi describes 4 different eating phases of the day, and makes recommendations for how you should eat during those phases:

  • “The Energy phase” occurs during the workout.  Berardi recommends a protein/carbohydrate drink to sip during exercise, with a 2:1 carbohydrate (0.8 g/kg bodyweight) to protein (0.4g/kg bodyweight) ratio.   So for someone who weighs 150 lbs (68kg), this means 54 g of carbohydrate to 27 g of protein, diluted in about a liter of water.  There are some commercial drinks that have this ratio, or you can mix protein powder in with Gatorade powder or orange juice.
  • The “Anabolic phase” is the 1-2 hours after your workout, when your body wants to rebuild the muscles cells that you’ve just worked, but needs adequate nutrition to do so.  Another 2:1 carbohydrate to protein beverage is what you want during this period – same quantity.
  • The “Growth phase” occurs during the 6 hours after the Anabolic phase, and represents a time when there is still opportunity for muscle growth, but also a time when your body has a particularly good insulin sensitivity.  Berardi recommends 1:1 carbohydrate to protein during this period, but real food instead of beverages.
  • The “Rest of the Day phase” occurs…during the rest of the day.  So think 7-8 hours after your workout until your next workout.  If you don’t workout on a given day, then this phase is your entire day.  What you eat during this phase will be different depending on how well you respond to insulin.  This is where Berardi’s approach aligns with The Metabolic Typing Diet.  If you are a protein type, then you should be thinking protein, fat and veggies only.  Otherwise, you can add in more carbohydrate.  If your goal is to lose fat, you should minimize the amount of carbohydrate you add to this part of the day regardless of your type.

There it is – nutrition demystified.  In the article above, Berardi summarizes it like this:

“One interesting way of looking at your food consumption during a “nutrient timing day” is that you’re eating like Atkins Diet proponents might recommend during 3 of your meals (Rest of the Day Phase); like Zone Diet proponents might recommend during 2 of your meals (Growth Phase); and like the American Dietetics Association might recommend during 2 more of your meals (Energy and Anabolic Phases).”

Links to the article (it is in two parts):

http://www.johnberardi.com/articles/nutrition/nutr_timing_1.htm
http://www.johnberardi.com/articles/nutrition/nutr_timing_2.htm

5 thoughts on “Don’t forget nutrition”

  1. Some really fantastic info , Glad I found this. “The historian must have some conceptions of how men who are not historians behave.” by Edward Morgan Forster.

  2. [ed. note: I edited the original post to remove a sentence with a comment that part of the reason I like Dr. Berardi is because he's Canadian. It turns out that Dr. Berardi's is in fact American, not Canadian. I made the incorrect assumption that he was Canadian because he received his PhD from the University of Western Ontario and has been involved with numerous Canadian athletes. Close enough?]

  3. Great article! In fact, I’m a prime example. I have been using P90x for a while but in the past two weeks I haven’t been able to work out due to work and household circumstances. I have, however, stuck to the nutritional plan pretty religiously. In these two weeks I haven’t been seeing as much of a change but I am still losing weight at a fairly regular rate. Nutrition has a big bang for the buck in terms of weight loss. I’m looking forward to working out every day again though.

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