First things first: insulin and fat loss are mutually exclusive, so whenever there is an insulin release in the body hormonal sensitive lipase (HSL), fat loss stops.
All the more reason not to touch sugar, right?
It is not that simple. Depending on who you talk to, insulin is either the greatest hormone ever (as it pushes nutrients into the muscle) or the most evil thing constructed (as it makes people fat). The truth is in the middle. Insulin is more or less a transporter hormone that will shuttle protein into your muscle, but will also act as a fat storage hormone if you are consuming excess calories.
So why not keep insulin low at a l times? In my opinion, insulin should be kept low most of the day but around your workout it is a different story. It comes down to a tradeoff. Consuming carbs around the workout provide three main benefits:
1. Boost Performance
Carbs are needed to perform better, especially if you lift heavy. Muscle glycogen is used up at a rapid rate – think about five grams for every two sets of lifting if we are training within 80 % of your max. So your average lifter will go through 50 grams of carbs (larger individuals can use even more) in a workout if we assume they are performing 20 sets at a reasonable intensity. If glycogen is not replenished, performance will suffer.
2. Maximize The Pump
Simple carbs equal a better pump which, does a couple things for you – you look great, which will in turn make you train harder, and the pump helps expand the cells and the fascia, thereby setting the stage for growth.
3. Improve Recovery
As stated above nothing, is as anabolic as insulin as it transports nutrients into the muscle, sets off protein synthesis and stops muscle breakdown – which is something you want after your workout. So that alone is a good reason to consume some carbs along with your post workout protein shake.
Here is how I usually split up my pre and post workout carbs:
• Multiply my planned number of sets (excluding warm up sets) x 2.5. That equals my pre or intra workout carb number. I add some more carbs if I train legs or back but since usually do around 20 total sets, I typically end up around at around 50 grams.
• Post workout I consume anywhere from 50-70 grams depending on how close I trained to failure.
Disclaimer: the above outline will only work if you fit the carbs within your marcos, so do not use this article as carte blanche to eat all the sugar you want.
But why not simply consume complex carbs? The reason is timing: complex carbs take time to reach your blood stream. I work out out at around 5:30 am, and I am just not getting up at 4 am to eat a bowl of oatmeal. Gummi bears, on the other hand, can be eaten on my walk to the gym and are available within 15 minutes. If you want something faster think, Gatorade or Waxymaize.
The need for fast post workout carbs is pretty self-explanatory – if you do not get them into the blood stream fast enough you will not be able to use their recovery benefits.