Dan and Arsen are here to clear up a few misconceptions about fitness nutrition.
Dan is a student at UW La Crosse majoring in Exercise and Sport Science with a Minor in Nutrition. He’s studying for his NSCA CSCS, and has competed in 3 bodybuilding shows and 1 powerlifting meet.
Arsen has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from UW Stevens Point. He’s a Personal Training Manager and Fitness Coach with Anytime Fitness, and an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer.
You’ve probably heard of all these misconceptions before…
1. Carbohydrates make you fat or make it harder to lose fat!
Arsen: “Are you trying to carbocide?” Carbohydrates are the new “fat”. It wasn’t long ago every health professional and even government agencies started predicating the importance of a low fat diet. Fat was thought to… well make you fat. It only makes sense right?
We know now that fat isn’t responsible for stored body fat, but rather excess calorie consumption! Carbohydrates ALLOW the sparing of muscle building proteins. Instead of using proteins for energy it can now be used to build/maintain muscle tissue, while the carbs do the dirty work for energy.
“Don’t eat carbs at night, it’s easier for them to store as fat”
Another common idea out there is that eating carbs past a made up time will increase the odds of storing fat. Luckily this has been proven to be untrue! One study even showed that people who ingest carbohydrates mostly at dinner, while on a lower calorie diet, do not cause weight gain! The study actually showed potential of growing leaner!
The thing that makes carbs so menacing is the fact that they’re so damn tasty! It’s in everything that we typically over indulge on such as: chips, sweets, condiments, and beverages! With self control, you can learn how to have the best of both worlds and not have to miss social events, birthdays, or game days!
What Arsen does: “I find that eating my carbs at the beginning of the day and tapering towards the end of the day works best for me. My workouts tend to be later afternoon and having at least two meals of carbs in before hand seem to keep my workouts sustained. Carbs are an excellent source of energy and when I’m ready to hit the sack I usually don’t need that much energy.”
What Dan does: “Personally, I like to keep my carbs around my workouts and in the evenings right up before bedtime. I generally avoid carbs for breakfast, and most of the first half of the day, as I feel much more alert and focused. Seeing as how I like to workout in the evenings that is when I begin to consume carbs. I like to have a small to moderate amount before and during my workouts with a plethora of carbs consumed afterwards. My typical carbs sources are oats, some fruit like berries, cyclic dextrin from Prime Nutrition Intra MD, and jasmine rice.”
2. Eating “x” times per day is necessary for muscle growth
Every bro science article on the internet will tell you to eat every 2-3 hours otherwise catabolism takes place and you waste away.
Eating frequency definitely helps with one thing…. HUNGER! If you are dieting you probably know all too well about hunger pains and what can happen when you see something tasty! Ensuring you eat every 2 or 3 hours with smaller meals will limit the chance of that happening.
However, eating three 1000 calorie meals vs. six 500 meals metabolism is unaffected. Like the car you drive, filling up the gas tank 6 different times partially or 3 times partially it makes no difference as long as the gas capacity is met.
All in all, meal frequency can trick your mind and stomach into thinking it’s more full than it really is, but it really makes no difference on body composition.
The bottom line is… Eat in a way that fits your daily schedule!
What Arsen does: Depending on the macronutrient totals you have to play with anywhere between 3-5 meals will do the job. If you have 1500 kcal to play with and only eat 2-3 times a day then more likely than not you’ll be hungry for a good portion of the day. Spreading out calories allows more satiety.
What Dan does: I generally prefer to eat more frequently. As a competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter you need to eat a lot in order to progress in strength and hypertrophy. If you need to eat 4,500 calories (or for some a lot lot more!) then trying to consume that in 3 meals can be very challenging, uncomfortable, and almost impossible. I like to focus on eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner with snacks or lighter meals in between. I eat 6-7 times a day.
3. Drink a protein shake immediately following a workout!
ANABOLIC WINDOW BRO! If you’re an avid gym goer, there is a good chance you’ve heard of this phrase. Protein synthesis is heightened following an intense workout and if you want to recover optimally you must get a shake in ASAP.
While protein intake following exercise is important, the timing is awfully exaggerated. Protein synthesis is heightened 24-48 hours post workout. One study showed that the “next scheduled protein-rich meal is most likely enough for optimal anabolism”. Just remember that the body reacts to the bigger picture. If protein intake is consistent and high enough with calorie requirements met, your body won’t have a choice but to grow leaner when coupled with intense weight lifting.
What Arsen does: I follow my workout with a protein shake not because of the “anabolic window”, but just because it allows me to reach my total protein intake easier than just relying on meals alone.
What Dan does: I usually consume a protein shake after my workout once I get home from the gym. If it has been longer than an hour following my workout before I get a chance to slam a protein shake I will just opt for whole food at that point.