Anabolic Timing comes down to 4 simple questions:
What is the best time to workout? What is the best time to eat? What is the best time to eat simple sugars? What is the best time to sleep and rest? These are all questions that we can resolve with the use of anabolic timing.
What do all these questions seem to have the central focal point? It’s TIME!!! We all know that our body needs nutrition to stay fueled, rest to recuperate, and training to build, but sometimes we are unsure of the “when” aspect for all this to happen. Decades of research have shown that we can’t do 2 of the 3 in order to optimize our physical full potential. The human body is a machine, but if not fueled and properly kept, it will fall apart and can easily make an anabolic system more catabolic.
In part one of this three part series, I’m going to mainly focus on the aspect of anabolic timing when it comes to food. Most of you reading this article consume close to 5-7 meals per day (including protein shakes if you use those for replacing one or two solid meals), but one question to ask yourself is “Am I following a pattern that fits my schedule and workouts?”. For those of us who work during the day, you probably ingest about 3-4 meals before you even step foot into a gym. Also, based on the physical demand of the job dictates what food you might consume during that time.Anabolic Timing and Consuming Food:
One simple concept I have learned is that to optimize your body with creating an anabolic environment that is receptive of hypertrophy, you have to coordinate foods that facilitate this around your workout. Here is a good example. John trains at 5 pm everyday, and he usually trains for about 60-80 minutes. John ate his last meal around 3 pm and then doesn’t eat again till close to 7 pm after his workout. John consumes most of his meals with a 2-3 hour time frame. So is John’s body in a suitable environment for true muscle growth with this current regimen? NO. Unless John is incorporating simple sugars immediately after his workout, his body won’t even use the calories consumed till over 60-90 minutes after he eats at 7 pm, which also depends on his macro break Down and how much fats he is consuming.
Let’s Adjust John’s Schedule. We Will Utilize Anabolic Timing to Maximize His Anabolic Environment:
So John eats his last meal at 3 pm before training, but today we add some BCAA formula (an intra workout supplement) and about 20 oz of apple juice that he can consume during his workout. Immediately following the workout, John will consume 50 grams of ISO whey with another 20 oz apple juice and 1 tbsp honey. It takes John about 30 minutes to get home from the gym so he is going to chow down on 7 oz of top sirloin steak with 400 grams of red potatoes when he gets home.
In this scenario, John has consumed 180 grams of carbohydrates, 90 grams of protein, and about 28-30 grams of fat within a 2 hour window from when his workout started and his meal at home ended. The steak and potato will be slower at digesting, but he created an environment more anabolic and more ready to use the incoming simple sugars based on his timing in the second scenario. Also, his body will more and likely use most of what he is consuming versus allowing the metabolism to drop and go directly into preservation mode since it was pretty much fasted in the first scenario.
A concept that I have learned (and still incorporate) is that the body can handle 25-30% of the daily calories (mostly carbohydrates) in that 2 hour anabolic window during and post-training. The muscles are being worked and over exerted to the point that glycogen is leaving and more depleted in the myoglobin . This will also help his body recover faster and even keep his blood sugar levels within a normal range. I do advise though if you are a diabetic you would need to follow a different approach with less simple sugars and even more fats to still create this anabolic like environment.Anabolic Timing and Sleep:
Do you ever have issues with sleeping at night to where you’re constantly waking up alert and having a hard time drifting back to sleep? To help us understand the reasons for sleep, we need to focus on what happens while we sleep. When you are “drifting” to sleep, your body is going into a different level of consciousness. The central nervous system switches from Sympathetic response to Parasympathetic response. This meaning that voluntary muscle (biceps, pec major, etc) are inhibited from function as well as normal sensory responses are inhibited. However, our involuntary muscles are still active which yield digestion, circulatory function , sphincter control, and list keeps going. So even in sleep state, our body is always functioning, but it shuts down certain parts to better position us for deep sleep.
The periods of sleep we experience are non-REM and REM (rapid eye movement). Non-REM is the period of sleep that we are mostly engaged in, and there are three stages of this: N1, N2, and N3.
- Stage N1 is the stage between wakefulness and sleep. You know that weird/funny occurrence when your significant other just drifted off and they are twitching or jerking in their sleep? They’re experiencing N1. Also, we do lose some muscle tone at this stage with less awareness of external forces.
- Stage N2 is the toughest stage to awake someone. Muscular activity is inhibited, and there is almost zero awareness of the outside environment is exhibited. This will constitute the higher percentage (45-55%) of our non-REM sleep.
- Stage N3 is our deepest stage of rest. In this state, we are at our highest form of rest and this is where the body is in the best environment for restoration. Also, this stage yields cortisol levels at their lowest and pituitary function at its highest for GH production in the body. Needless to say, this is the area we need the most for optimizing proper muscular repair.
Rapid Eye Movement ( REM ) and Anabolic Timing
REM is one of the most unique stages of sleep where we will spend ¼ of our nights in. This is the dream state we fall in, and we usually cycle REM form of sleep every 90 minutes. There is a cycle that falls between both non-REM and REM. If you ever woke up in the middle of the night and then drifted right back to sleep, many times shortly after a dream follows. Many people will have coupled dreams where you will go into a dream state more than a few times each evening. Also, uniquely with this stage our muscles are in paralysis and will not function, which for us is a safe thing so that we do not physically act out our dreams and harm ourselves or others next to us.
Do we need nap time? Yes and no. If you are a person who has a heavy labor job and body just simply is always in fatigue, then the rest periods in the day could promote quality rest. However, though some take naps, it can throw off their circadian rhythm so that they will not hit those deep stages of sleep to feel adequately rested. A rule of thumb to remember is that if you get at least 6-8 quality hours of sleep then a nap will not be necessary. Even if you do take a nap, you will wake up with less energy and alertness due to the fact you are waking from a deep sleep stage of non-REM where brain activity and muscle tone is at its lowest. So shorter mini naps would be better by allowing rest of the body, but not allowing deep sleep patterns that will spike up delta brain waves. Also, allowing brain waves to slow down with less outside stimuli will also allow deeper stages of sleep.
We need to find better ways of prepping our bodies for normal sleep patterns because sleep is a major part of our lives that allows our bodies to keep going. Inadequate sleep will aid in a new onset of possible disorders and pathological illnesses within our body, and we want to do everything within our power to avoid that.