T Nation

Carb Timing, Off Days and Peri vs Post Nutrition


#1

Hey all,

I've been lifting for about a year and a half now. When I first started working out the goal was fat loss and I was doing a lot of circuits and 30 minute bouts of cardio. I dropped from 220 to 182 in about 4 months and was really happy with the results. I even experienced those magical "beginner" gains where I saw substantial muscle growth accompanying the fat loss. However, I started to get frustrated that I wasn't getting much stronger. I was following some baloney bodybuilding program with set/rep schemes but no progression protocol that dedicated 1 out of 5 weekly training days to specific body parts. In short, I was exercising, I wasn't training.

I moved on to the Juggernaut program at the recommendation of a local coach and I'm still on it. I really enjoy the progression and "wave" scheme, knowing what I was going in the gym to lift and in what structure. However, as I dedicated less and less time to cardio and more time to simply lifting for mass/strength, I put some fat back on.

I want to lean out and I know the big thing is locking down my nutrition protocol. When I was losing tons of weight I was living on chicken, veggies and small quantities of rice but I wasn't really regulating portions or timing at all. After I switched my focus to lifting and I was already reasonably trim, I started eating whatever the f**k I wanted, which is how I got where I am. Not quite fat, but definitely not happy.

In any case let me lay out my calories/macro scheme, how I lift, and my weight/age:

  • Start at 14 cal/lb, which in my current state is 2,590. Dropping 1 cal/lb if weight loss slows/stops.
  • A macro breakdown of 35% protein, 25% carbs, 40% fat. This is a scheme I've seen commonly recommended for Endos, which I definitely am.
  • These percentages break out to (with a little rounding), 230g protein, 160g carbs, 115g fats.

I lift 4 days a week. I'm thinking about changing my approach from "strength movement into sets of assistance" to "strength movement (maybe 10x3) into dense metabolic circuit." My goal is to maintain my strength to the fullest extent possible while losing weight at a steady clip.

I am 28 years old and currently hover between 186-188 lbs at a height of 5' 9".

So I have a couple of questions.

Is This Macro Scheme Decent?

In my personal experience I'm pretty carb sensitive. In the period where I was dropping 10 pounds a month I basically stopped drinking, and dropped all wheat products altogether. I think this had a profound effect on my weight loss. Considering my carb sensitivity, is 160g low carb enough? Or am I low balling it on carbs and setting myself up for failure?

Carb Timing

I've read a lot on this subject. I know if you are going low carb you want to concentrate your carbs around your workout and some maybe first thing in the morning. My question really revolves around peri vs post workout carbs. Lets say I sip a shake during lifting that contains solid amounts of protein and about 35-40g of carbs, does this change my post-workout meal requirements? Should I take in another dose of about the same amount with my post-workout meal? And, if so in what sort of timeframe after my workout is concluded?

Basically I was thinking, based on hitting 160g daily, that I should take in about 25g with breakfast (fruit), about 45g (complex, low GI) with my pre-workout meal, about 40g peri/intra workout (simple/high GI), and about 50g with my post workout meal, hitting my total for the day.

I have read in some places that if your goal is fat loss then consuming peri-workout carbs is counterproductive. I've also read that it is necessary to induce a brief anabolic window into your otherwise catabolic day (since we're trying to lose weight without shedding tons of muscle/strength). There is a bunch of contradictory information about this online.

In summary: if I'm trying to retain maximal strength while cutting, when should I be plugging my carbs in and in what doses? Are 120g split between pre, peri and post meals over a 5 hours period ok?

Finally, Lifting vs. Rest Days

Should I be consuming the same number of carbs each day? Some say cut carbs on rest days as you don't need as much fuel, others say keep them the same or elevate them to promote recovery.

As a follow up, how is timing affected by rest days? If there is no workout to plan carb consumption around, when should they be consumed?

In any case, thanks for putting up with the wall of text. I know this is a large list of questions but I'm getting frustrated by the inconsistency of the information I'm finding online and thought it would be good to get the community to weigh in.

Regards,
Chris


#2

Hi Chris

What strikes me immediately about your post is that

a) Your plan is good
b) You seem to worry way too much about minutiae, and so are at risk of majoring in the minors. This is not inherently terrible, but I encourage you to not be caught up with analysis paralysis -- many of the factors you are considering are only relevant when polishing a physique in the lead-up to a show or photoshoot -- not when casually dropping some body fat.

To answer your specific questions:

1) Yes. Provided that you are in a deficit and consuming enough protein to support muscle maintenance, then the macro scheme is 'decent'. As for the question about your individual carb sensitivity... No one on the internet can answer that for you. It is for you to discover, as the answer is true of your body only. Run with your current setup, re-evaluate in 2 weeks' time. Remember, the goal is decreased bodyweight with no reduction in strength -- this will allow some assurance of muscle maintenance.

2) This is majoring in the minors, somewhat. However, if you're really trying to brush up the last 2.5%, then yes, focusing carbs around training time is your best bet.

3) Initially, consume the same number of carbs on each day. Fat loss is a process that stalls, and so you need 'next levels' to go to when that happens. Start eating the same amount each day. Perhaps, if progress stalls in a month or so, then consider dropping carbs on rest days in order to create a new deficit. The same applies to your idea of switching your training. Save the metabolic circuit for the fat loss sticking point that you'll hit 2-3 months in. Don't start this journey with every technique under the sun -- doing so will leave you with nothing to implement when you stall (besides slashing calories to very low levels -- which is where muscle loss can become an issue).

Best of luck with the journey.