Eat What? When? How?

Our resident PhD Dr Clay Hyght takes on all your pertinent nutrition questions.

[ Q ] Will eating carbohydrates after my workout stop fat burning?

    Solving The Post Workout Puzzle.
    This article will explain why post workout nutrition is so important...
    That's a good question and one that hasn't been answered definitively until lately. Recent studies show that the body primarily burns fat after a workout, even if carbs are consumed.

    Essentially, it works like this: the body is in a storage mode post-workout and will store virtually all (within reason) of the carbs consumed during the postworkout period and will continue to burn fat.

    For the record, the period where the body is in this hyper-storage mode seems to be up to six hours. Likewise, it is primarily the nutrients consumed during this 'window of opportunity' that dictate if, and to what extent, recuperation occurs from ones' workout. So, in my opinion (which is supported by research), one should eat carbs postworkout, even if fat loss is the goal.

    I would consume a glucose type drink immediately post-workout followed one hour later by a carb with a high glycemic and insulin index like white potatoes or rice. Then two or three hours after that I'd opt for a low glycemic and insulin index food like oatmeal or sweet potatoes.

    Additionally, each of these meals should also contain a protein source to provide amino acids for the subsequent protein synthesis (muscle building).

[ Q ] For losing fat, which is better, a low-fat diet or a low-carb diet?

    Low-Carb Diets & Extra Lard.
    Many exercise scientists maintain that the low-carbohydrate diets suck because you will lose muscle mass rather than body fat...
    The best way to lose weight, at least as far as a long-term solution goes, is not listed as one of your choices. The correct answer would be moderate fat and moderate carbs-along with moderate (what some may consider high) protein intake. For a number of reasons that are too lengthy to discuss here, both low-fat and low-carbs are too drastic and less-than-optimal in terms of health and performance.

    Why not opt for a healthy, long-term solution to fat loss? Remember, as the saying goes, "everything in moderation." It's also worth mentioning that the types of fats and carbs consumed are just as important as how much of each is consumed. Try to focus on fats that come from fish, flax, olives, and nuts along with carbs that come from sweet potatoes, oats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

    So, my brief synopsis for long-term weight loss would be: eat moderate amounts and balanced portions of healthy foods-and (as if I had to tell you) don't eat that processed junk food.

[ Q ] I'm a competitive bodybuilder getting ready for my next show. Some people say that I should have no sodium the few days before my show while other people say that doing that will flatten me out and that my sodium should stay about the same. What is your opinion?

    Manipulating one's water and electrolytes before a show is, in my opinion, the hardest thing to do properly in terms of peaking for a show. Quite often a competitor is left looking worse on stage than they were the week prior to the show. This is common even in the pro ranks. First, let's look at a few facts. Sodium is needed to absorb carbohydrates across the intestinal wall as well as to get nutrients into the muscle.

    Water, Water, Every Where.
    Everything was looking good for the 3rd show of the 2004 competitive season until a couple hours before pre-judging. Find out what happened and why all competitors need to read this!
    Sodium also plays a huge role in regulating blood volume. In other words, low sodium can lead to a lower blood volume which can cause dizziness and decreased vascularity (which is usually coveted when peaking for a show). On the other hand, sodium is the primary extracellular ion and, because it attracts water, can cause a watery film to be present under the skin-obviously not good.

    So, sodium is both great and evil at the same time. And unfortunately, people respond very differently to varying levels of sodium intake. There's also the issue of water. Water, like sodium, is a double-edged sword. Too much and you're watery while too little can leave you flat and stringy. After peaking myself and slews of other competitors for numerous shows, I have developed a rule-of-thumb.

    Don't drastically lower water and sodium when using diuretics prior to competition-that includes both prescription and over-the-counter diuretics. Because diuretics function is to eliminate both sodium and water from the body, simultaneously lowering these nutrients is not only dangerous, but tends to most always leave an athlete flat, cramping, and with no vascularity.

    I prefer to use a moderate prescription diuretic like dyazide (with a prescription and under a doctor's supervision, of course) and let it do most of the work for drying out. I would not lower sodium to less than 1,500 mg per day or water less than 1.5 liters per day-and those amounts are only for the last day or two. Prior to that, both water and sodium intake should be rather high.

    On the other hand, if one prefers to not use diuretics, then it may be necessary to lower sodium and water a bit lower than the above amounts and for a full two days in order to give ample time to naturally drop excess water from under the skin.

    The precise amount is, unfortunately, trial and error; but I would always err on the side of more water and salt as opposed to less. This way you can avoid looking flat, which ironically makes you look smoother, too. I hope these guidelines help you.

What Type Of Diet Works Best For You?

Low Carb.
Low Fat.
High Protein.
Combination Of Above.