Here are 27 facts to either reinforce or to bring into doubt your current nutritional practices. Read, learn, adjust, and conquer.
Six years ago I wrote an article containing 16 easily digestible nutrition tips and facts. Six years is a long time, so perhaps T Nation readers would appreciate a second (overdue) helping!
- Citrillune Malate is a greatly underrated supplement. It's better at increasing blood arginine levels than arginine itself, or any of the nitric oxide supplements currently being hawked to less informed muscle heads. 6 grams is the optimal dose to shoot for.
- Pre-workout nutrition is probably more important than post workout nutrition, especially if your workouts are less than an hour. You have to remember that it takes time for the nutrients to get into your system, and increasing blood amino acids during training increases protein synthesis.
- Napping is grossly underrated. For a boost in alertness a 20 minute nap will do, but to enhance physical recovery you'll need a full 90 minutes to tap into your deep sleep cycle.
- It's currently trendy to say that eating breakfast is a waste of time. However, eating a high protein breakfast is one of the best ways to boost satiety and increase the likelihood that the carbs you eat at lunch will be stored as glycogen.
- Maximizing protein synthesis is about spiking or pulsing blood leucine levels throughout the day, not keeping them elevated all day long. More evidence that adding a serving of leucine to whole food meals is a smart, cost-effective muscle-building trick.
- The type of carbs you take in during and after your workout should be customized to your body composition. For example, if you're ectomorphic, a dextrose/maltodextrose combination like Surge® Recovery is a good choice. If you're not as lean and tend to be carb sensitive, cyclic dextrins such as those found in Mag-10® Protein Pulsing Protocol™, are better as they're not as insulinogenic.
- Mixed nuts are one of the best "weight gainers." They're cheap, portable, nutritious, and calorie dense.
- There's no need to mega dose BCAAs before energy systems work or training sessions lasting 60 minutes or less. Ten to 15 grams is all you need.
- Forty grams of casein protein before bed will increase protein synthesis while you sleep by 26%. Another reason to keep some Metabolic Drive® Protein by your night stand.
- Sleeping more is a classic strategy for guys training to get bigger, but getting 8 hours of sleep is also essential for optimizing fat loss hormones like leptin. Quantify and qualify your sleep with devices like the FitBit, Lark, or Zeo Sleep Manager for some eye-opening insights into your sleep habits.
- If you're craving pasta but are on a very low carb diet, try shiritake noodles. They're made from glucomannan, making them essentially carb and calorie free.
- Just about everyone (except maybe surfers) should be taking a Vitamin D supplement. Make sure you're taking cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) and not ergocalciferol (vitamin D2), as the former is much better at improving Vitamin D status.
- The health benefits of grass fed beef and its improved omega-3 and CLA content are blown wildly out of proportion. The vast majority of research – 99.9% of it – showing the health benefits of beef is performed with "conventional" beef. So if you want to eat grass fed beef that's fine – just don't try to make me feel like I'm making a bad health decision when I'm enjoying my corn fed ribeye.
- If you're not making the gains you want, you need to invest more time in quantifying exactly what you're putting in your mouth. You'll be surprised it isn't what (or as much) as you think.
- Intensity almost always beats duration when it comes to exercise – but not diet.
- Resveratrol, green tea, and Curcumin have all been shown to improve blood sugar control.
- If you're really committed to developing your best body then you should stop searching for ways to train as little as possible and eat as bad as possible. Instead try working to see how you can use proper nutrition to push the limits of frequent/intense training and recovery.
- Creatine is not a fancy supplement but it's still one of the most effective. Time your creatine supplementation with your largest carbohydrate meal as insulin potentiates creatine transport.
- Get lean before you decide to get big. Your insulin sensitivity will be much better when you start bulking, you'll be able to eat more carbs, and you'll 'look' a lot bigger than you are.
- The idea that fruit is hindering your weight loss shouldn't enter your mind until you're sub-10% body fat – so stop trying to blame the blueberries in your protein shake for your lack of a six-pack.
- Being lean is not normal in today's society. This means you need to do things that normal people don't do. You need to pack your own lunch; you need to request food be prepared differently than what's listed on most menus; your idea of 'fast food' should be a protein shake; and you can't take the weekend off from your diet like you do your job.
- The powers of fish oil don't extend to improving blood sugar control (if anything, research shows it slightly impairs it). It's amazing for many reasons (improved protein synthesis, optimized fat burning, fine tuning your heart's electrochemistry, reducing joint pain), so take lots (2.5-5 grams of EPA/DHA) – just stop saying you're taking it to improve blood sugar management.
- Dietary variety is good, but overrated. Research shows that perennially lean people eat the same things day in and day out.
- Detractors of very low carbohydrate, high fat diets often reference the fact that this type of diet leads to a decrease in insulin sensitivity. However, the decrease is negligible, and since you're not taking in many carbs anyway, insulin sensitivity isn't as critical. Cutting carbs and low carb diets are still the most efficient way to lose fat, hands down.
- The inflammation that occurs during your training session is a natural part of the muscle building process. Chugging down high antioxidant cocktails to prevent this can decrease post workout insulin sensitivity.
- L-Carnitine L-Tartrate can increase androgen receptors on your muscles and decrease post-exercise soreness. You should be taking 1 gram twice a day.
- Six years ago I did an interview with Dr. John Williams about xenoestrogens. Today, I'm more convinced than ever that environmental toxins like xenoestrogens play a role in blocking body composition goals. Be wary of where your food has been, what package it comes in, and how you prepare and store it.
And I'm Out!
Nutrition is a rapidly expanding field with new research and new discoveries emerging almost daily, and I could probably provide 27 new facts every month – heck, maybe even every week. Well, that might be pushing it.
Regardless, put these 27 tips to good use. I'll be back with more facts in the (not too distant) future, I promise.