T Nation

Generalized Ideas on Carb Timing


First off - there have been threads on this, yes. However, I'm trying to apply theory in a more general form than the ever-present "when should I drink my pwo shake" type stuff.

Basically, I'd like to get feedback on more general ideas on tweaking insulin/blood sugar levels for maximum natural growth and best workout performance. I mention insulin, as I'm interested in it's applications as far as sucking nutrients into muscles. As a natural trainee, I want to stimulate as much growth as possible (to get as much of an anabolic effect as naturally possible).

My starting point/the way I look at this is:
Eating high GI carbs + lots of protein at the same time = high amounts of both in blood (although admittedly protein will enter the bloodstream slightly slower than the carbs I believe, as a general rule, not taking into account the protein type)
Then insulin levels raise, sucking both into the muscle.
So, by my understanding, eating high GI carbs will increase nutrient flow into muscle (to a certain extent).

To that end, it seems like it's good to break the day into 4 parts:

Morning, 3 hours before workout
Pre-Workout, (1 hour window) + during workout
Post-Workout (4-6 hour window) - assuming the end of this window is at least 3 hours before bed
Pre-sleep, 3-5 hours before bed

In more concrete terms, with an 11AM workout, 7AM wakeup and 11PM sleep,
Morning: 7-10
Pre/During Workout: 10-12
Post: 12-6
Pre-sleep: 6-11

As far as carb guidelines, and managing blood sugar and insulin levels (again, insulin used as a tool to suck nutrients into muscles),
Morning would include low to medium GI stuff, getting energy for later workout.
PreWO would be higher GI, getting more immediate energy for WO + planning for high insulin levels post-WO
PostWO window, medium-high GI carbs to suck as much protein in as possible (which coupled with the post-WO training effect on IGF-1 etc... should in theory be a fairly powerful effect)
Pre-sleep low GI carbs, as you want to sleep well, and let the protein you eat at dinner digest slowly throughout the night.

Now I should say, that the way I'm looking at this could be completely wrong and extremely oversimplified. However, I'm posting here to refine my general way of thinking.

Also, many thanks in advance. I believe that the TNation community is unparalleled in knowledge and I feel privileged to receive the benefits of the expertise of this community. I feel like a kid in a candy store on a shopping spree every time I read the stuff on here.

Thank you in advance.

Edit: This isn't meant as a scientific paper or to write a biology test, just to apply that science to real training. Thanks.


I'm not sold on the insulin pushing stuff into muscles. I don't believe that someone can drink whey and have it available to repair muscles 30 minutes later. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see things happening that quickly.


It's not wrong; it's just that it took you quite some text to say this:

1) Eat plenty of protein at each meal.
2) Consume mostly unprocessed carbs at your meals.
3) Consume sugar and protein around workouts.

Why would we disapprove of this?!


@Bricknyce - yeah I was too long winded, just trying to accurately represent what my thoughts were

The main thing I'm looking to figure out is how to effectively time high GI carbs to maximize insulin's effects on macronutrients into the muscle, or if that effect has a large enough effect to even bother.

I've tried "clean bulks" and I always stick at around 6'1" 205, way too tiny for my goals (at least 215, ideally 220 at similar bodyfat to today, longterm). For this I strongly believe I need to just add calories. And I'm not opposed to fattening up and cutting later. But I'd rather maximize the benefit of additional shit calories.

Edit: After re-reading Thib's piece on a bulking diet, I wanted to clarify my previous statement: If nothing else works, I'm not opposed to adding fat. What I'd like to do is eat big (but not huge) but maximize the impact of EVERY calorie I eat. And I believe the way to this is timing (insulin spikes driving stuff into muscle, low absorption rate foods before bed, etc...)