Jason had a great question that I receive fairly frequently:
Hey Robb I’ve been zoning for a little over a month now, body comp has never been better, I have no problems with energy throughout the day and I continue to PR on most things but performance has not taken off like you say it should. I feel like I’m losing strength, as weird as it sounds, even though I continue to PR a little I can feel strength decreasing (i.e. some exercise just aren’t as smooth and I’m hitting muscle failure quicker than I was a few months ago). I’ve read 42 Ways and most of your diet stuff on here. I know about moving most of your carbs to the PWO meal and moving the fat from the PWO and spread it out the rest the day (I’m sure you’re tired of explaining that alot). But I’m not sure what exactly in detail I should include in my PWO meal (other than yams and apples that you mentioned in 42 Ways). I feel that the PWO meal is very important bc I think recovery is the most important aspect of training. If it’s not too much trouble could you go into a little detail about exactly what foods are good to put into PWO and why? I greatly apprectiate it.
There are two things that need to be tackled here, the first is PWO food recommendations, the second is the strength issue.
The idea of a PWO meal containing carbs (and protein) is to take advantage of a period of time in which the muscles are particularly insulin sensitiveve. We can fly nutrients into the muscle “under the radar” via a mechanism called “non insulin mediated glucose transport”. Amino acids are also taken in during this time and may play a synergistic role in both glycogen repletion but also decreasing inflammation that accompanies hard training. Said another way, you recover from exertion faster. So, what should ya eat? We actually want a starchy carb as our primary carb. Yams and sweet potatoes are great options as they are also highly nutritious. Fruit should be used sparingly in this meal if one is focused on optimized glycogen repletion as fructose refills liver glycogen first, and once liver glycogen is full we up-regulate the lipogenic activity of the liver and start down the road towards fat gain and insulin resistance.
I know James Fitzgerald (OPT) has used a mixture of mashed sweet potato and apple sauce for PWO meal…getting just a bit of hepatic (liver) glycogen repletion with the lions share going to the muscles. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top to enhance insulin sensitivity and you are set. Why do the mixture? Perhaps James will chime in on this but for me a simple answer would be palatability and taste. If you just received an ass-kicking, stuffing food down your pie-hole may not be that appealing. Something yummy could certainly make that easier.
Why not shakes? I’ve not found them to be superior to solid food, I have noticed they make people fat. A new paper just came out comparing milk & cereal (shitty food) to a PWO shake (also shitty food) and the milk+cereal beat the shake with regards to glycogen repletion. Go figure. I’d wager salmon and sweet potatoes would be even better…not likely to see that study!
The PWO window is most potent immediately after a WO and drops off to about 50% efficacy by 30 min, and pretty much back to baseline by an hour. If you train at night, just try to get that meal in immediately after training and keep an eye out for fat gain around the mid-section. If thyis happens, dial back your carbs.
There is a reality that getting really lean will decrease your absolute strength. We loose a bit of intramuscular fat that improves leverage and it just tends to take a little off the top end of things like squats and DL’s. You can still have great absolute strength and your relative strength will greatly improve…but if you are leanign out you almost inevitabley will see those top-end numbers come dwon a bit as compared to running just a bit heavier. Also, I’m assuming you are ramped up to a 5x fat, athlete’s Zone diet.