In order to achieve large gains in muscle mass along with significant body fat decreases, many hormonal events need to occur in the body. The amount of success that that can be achieved in these endeavors is determined by how much testosterone, growth hormone and insulin are produced by the body and whether or not they are produced at the right times.
These events are affected to a large extent by the quality, timing, amount and ratio of the macronutrients consumed on a daily basis.
There are three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to function properly.
- These are the body's main source of energy. When you ingest carbohydrates your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin which is very important because: It helps the body process the carbohydrates as energy and stores the remainder into the muscle cell and liver.
It helps deliver the carbohydrates inside the muscle cell for recovery and repair. Most people who are overweight and are on low fat/high carbohydrate diets are in that condition because they eat an overabundance of carbohydrates. Too many carbohydrates cause the release of huge amounts of insulin.
When there is too much insulin in the body it shuts down its ability to use its body fat for fuel. If this happens often the end result is a softer, fatter version of yourself. Therefore it is important to eat the right amount of carbohydrates.
"All Carbs Are Not Created Equal"
As you've probably heard many times, carbohydrates are not created equal.
Carbohydrates can be divided into two categories:
- provide sustained energy ("timed-release"), while simple carbohydrates provide immediate energy. It is recommended that you eat mainly complex carbohydrates throughout the day as they are responsible for creating consistent energy levels for peak performance and daily functions.
Simple carbohydrates are great to ingest right after a workout when your body needs simple, high glycemic carbohydrates in order to replenish its glycogen levels immediately. This will help speed up recuperation time and aid in the production of lean muscle tissue.
Ingesting simple carbohydrates throughout the day is not recommended since they are released into the bloodstream too fast and if you do not need them at that specific time, your body's ability to burn body fat may be compromised. A few examples of good carbohydrate sources are:
Starchy carbs include:
|Baked Potato (4oz raw)||20|
|Plain Oatmeal (1/2 cup dry)||27|
|Sweet Potatoes/Yams (4 oz raw)||24|
|Rice (brown) 1/2 cup cooked||25|
|Grits (1/4 cup dry)||29|
|Cream Of Rice (3 Tablespoons)||25|
Fibrous carbs include:
|Food (1 cooked cup)||Grams|
|Celery (4 large raw stalks)||8|
|Red or Green Peppers||8|
|Cucumber (1 cup sliced)||8|
|Lettuce (1 cup chopped)||3|
Simple carbs include:
|Apple (1 medium)||15|
|Strawberries (1 cup)||9|
|Banana (6 oz)||27|
|Grapes (1 cup)||14|
|Yogurt (1 serving)||27|
- Every tissue in your body is made up of protein (i.e. muscle, hair, skin, nails etc.). Proteins are the building blocks of lean muscle tissue. Without it, building muscle and burning fat efficiently would be impossible.
Its importance is paramount because it helps increase metabolism every time it's eaten by 20 percent, and it time-releases carbohydrates (glucose) so sustained energy is available throughout the day. Good examples include:
|Chicken Breast (4 oz raw)||24|
|Tuna Fish in water (4 oz)||28|
|Turkey Breast (4 oz raw)||24|
|1 scoop Protein Powder||22|
|Egg Substitute (1 cup raw)||20|
|Halibut (4 oz raw)||24|
|Cod (4 oz raw)||24|
|Top Round Steak (4 oz raw)||28|
- All the cells in the body have some fat in them. Fats are responsible for lubricating your joints and manufacturing hormones. If you eliminate fats from your diet (which is almost impossible anyway), your hormonal production will drop and a whole array of chemical reactions will be interrupted.
Your body will start accumulating more body fat than usual to keep functioning. Because testosterone production is halted, so is the production of lean muscle mass. Therefore, in order to have an efficient metabolism we need to consume certain fats.
Fats also do positive things for a person's physical appearance. As Udo Erasmus (author of Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill), says, it's best to moisturize from the inside out. Lack of fat in the diet will result in dry, flaky skin and hair that no amount of moisturizing lotion will remedy.
There are three types of fats:
- are often associated with heart disease and high cholesterol levels. They are found to a large extent in products of animal origin. However, some vegetable fats are altered in a way that increases the amount of saturated fats in them by a chemical process known as hydrogenation. Hydrogenated vegetable oils are generally found in packaged foods. In addition, coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil (frequently used in packaged foods) and non-dairy creamers are highly saturated.
Polyunsaturated Fats do not have an effect on cholesterol levels. Most of the fats in vegetable oils, such as corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oil are polyunsaturated.
Monounsaturated Fats have a positive effect on good cholesterol levels. These fats are usually high in essential fatty acids and may have beneficial antioxidant properties. Sources of these fats are fish oils, virgin olive oil, Canola oil, and flaxseed oil. We like to refer to these types of fats as "good fats."
"Approximately 20 percent of your calories should come from good fats. Any less than 20% and your hormonal production goes down."
Any more than 20% and you start accumulating plenty of fat. Good fat sources are:
|Food (1 tsp serving size)||Grams|
Certain anabolic hormones are largely responsible for muscle mass gains and fat loss; macronutrients largely affect the production of these hormones.
The Relationship Between Carbohydrates, Protein & Insulin
Insulin is one of the most anabolic hormones in the body. As we have already mentioned it is the hormone responsible for delivering all of the nutrients into the correct tissues in the body for use. You may think of insulin as a truck that delivers raw materials to hard working production factories.
In our bodies, these factories would be all of the cells that compose it. Needless to say, insulin delivers amino acids into the muscle cell (which in turn help facilitate muscle growth) and carbohydrates into the bloodstream to be used for energy or into the muscle cell and liver to be stored as glycogen.
Whenever carbohydrates are ingested there is a concurrent release of insulin that if harnessed at the correct times could prove to be quite an anabolic event. On the other hand, too much insulin at the wrong times will shut down the body's ability to utilize fats for fuel, which in the long run will contribute to an increase in body fat.
For most of the day, insulin levels need to be kept in check in order to have constant energy levels along with a favorable environment in which body fat is used for fuel. This is best accomplished by consuming low glycemic carbohydrates throughout most of the day and ingesting them in a 1 to 1 ratio with protein. That means that if you consume 40 grams of protein in one meal, you will consume roughly 40 grams of carbohydrates in that same meal.
If you consume more carbohydrates than protein, you will be risking shutting down the body's ability to utilize fats for fuel due to the over abundance of carbohydrates. If you eat much less carbohydrates in relation to protein then a hormone called glucagon gets secreted which, in turn, will activate the use of the glycogen stores.
This is good if timed right (more on that later) but for the most part, it is a bad thing since if you do it all the time it will result in loss of energy. Depleted glycogen stores will make it difficult for you to train hard at the gym and give your muscles a flat and stringy appearance.
Fats & Hormonal Production
In order to lose body fat many bodybuilders immediately attempt to eliminate all forms of fat from their diet. Unfortunately this is the worst thing they can do as such maneuvers not only makes it more difficult for them to lose body fat but also shuts down the body's capability to produce anabolic hormones such as testosterone.
|In order to keep hormonal production at peak efficiency, fats should comprise approximately 20 percent of a bodybuilder's diet.
Typically, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil first thing in the morning along with the other naturally incurring fats from other protein sources will cover essential fatty acid needs.
Another important aspect of a bodybuilder's diet is the correct timing of meals. In order to keep insulin levels constant while also supporting an anabolic environment, it is important to eat several small meals a day spaced out 2 to 3 hours apart as opposed to consuming three large meals a day.
Performance Enhancement Through Appropriate Meal Timing & Exceptions To The Rules
This not only enhances your metabolism but it also keep a constant influx of amino acids coming into the body as well as keeping blood sugar and insulin levels constant. This, in turn, yields high energy levels as opposed to the ups and downs experienced when consuming infrequent large meals.
To get the most out of your training program, it is of utmost importance to have the correct timing with pre-workout and post workout meals. The pre-workout meal should be eaten two to three hours (three being even better) prior to the weight training activity.
This is necessary in order to maximize growth hormone production during the workout. If your body fat is above 10 percent and fat loss is your main goal, you may even want to completely eliminate all of the carbohydrates from this meal in order to cause an even greater GH release.
Once your weight training activity is completed, a two-hour window of opportunity is opened where the body will absorb carbohydrates and amino acids at an accelerated rate in order to replenish depleted levels. In order to take advantage of this window it is imperative to immediately consume a high glycemic index carbohydrate along with whey protein. A great product to use at this time is a good quality whey isolate mixed with some fruit juice or drink the protein and eat some grapes.
Only after a workout is it beneficial to increase insulin levels significantly when the body is not interested in storing body fat but recuperating. The increased insulin will serve to shuttle all of the nutrients required by the body while also stimulating the release of insulin growth factors.
To further take advantage of this two-hour window, another meal (preferably in liquid form) with low glycemic carbohydrates and protein should be consumed 45 minutes after the post workout meal. Look for a good meal replacement drink with the proper macronutrient profile (they are all different, so read the label).
Another time when growth hormone release can be optimized is at night prior to bedtime. In order to do that, the last meal of the day should be carbohydrate-free and should be consumed two hours prior to bedtime. A good choice here is casein which is slower digesting than whey. Cottage cheese is the perfect answer, although you could also eat a chicken breast.
Hormonal Enhancement Through Zig-Zag Of Calories
Research indicates that short periods of overfeeding serve to increase anabolic hormones in the body. Thus slightly increasing calories for a short period of time serves to induce an anabolic response.
"Another time when growth hormone release can be optimized is at night prior to bedtime."
In order to take advantage of this, increasing calories by 500 to 1000 over the weekends (when you want to socialize) will accelerate your muscle mass gains while also raising your metabolism and preventing it from adapting to the lower caloric level consumed during weekdays.
Hormonal Maximization Rules Summary
- Throughout most of the day, consume between 6 to 8 small meals (meal amount depends on body weight and goals) spaced out at 2 to 3 hour intervals throughout the day.
- Most meals should contain roughly 1 gram of low glycemic carbohydrates for every gram of protein.
- Pre-Workout Meal should be eaten 2-3 hours prior to workout. For maximized GH output you may wish to eliminate all carbohydrates from the pre-workout meal.
- Post Workout Meal should preferably consist of a liquid Whey Protein Isolate along with a high glycemic carbohydrate source.
- For maximized utilization of the 2-hour window of opportunity, consume another meal consisting of low glycemic carbohydrates and a low fat protein source 45 minutes after the post-workout meal.
- The bedtime meal should be consumed 2 hours prior to bedtime and should be devoid of carbohydrates in order to induce a sharp growth hormone release.
- Calories should be cycled in order to prevent metabolic slowdown and in order to increase the production of anabolic hormones in the body. If you eat 2500 calories five days out of the week, eat between 3000 to 3500 calories on Saturday and Sunday.
Muscle growth and fat loss are two events that are largely governed by certain hormones. By taking advantage of what modern nutrition has to offer, you can exploit hormonal production in a way that will produce gains at an accelerated rate.