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Blog 2/50. Macronutrient Timing

01.26.2020

Hey guys! You can’t get to a streak of 50 without starting with a streak of 2, so here we are!

My last post was about going a month without “fixes”. These can come in forms besides what you consume but for now, we will focus on substances. Those include caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and foods that are higher in carbs. So what are we supposed to eat then? And when?

In Greg Glassman’s “World Class Fitness in 100 Words”, he starts it with “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar.” That is a great place to start. However, on No-Fix there are a few exceptions. We want to actually completely take out the fruit and starches all together because the goal is to go an entire month without consuming anything that will elicit a “sympathetic” response. You all know what fruit is, but that also means no sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, pasta, squashes, plantains (sorry Arms family), etc.

Unfortunately, people refer to the sympathetic nervous system synonymously with “fight or flight”. So they tend to think of a sympathetic reaction to something as this big energetic, aggressive feeling or an overwhelming reaction of fear. But these reactions occur on a spectrum, just like anything else. Julien (the founder and leader of StrongFit) believes that it is the combination of these substances that keeps us in a low-grade sympathetic state and thus, in a constant cycle of not sleeping well, needing caffeine to get/keep us going, consuming carbs and sugar because they make us feel better (temporarily) about our situation that we’re actually not happy about, needing alcohol to wind down, and sleeping poorly again.

To understand how nervous system state impacts our food digestion we need to understand two main things:

-The biggest driver of the state of our nervous system is the daylight. Circadian rhythm. When it’s light out, we are wired to be up and moving and doing. When it’s dark, we are wired to sit, rest, and socialize.

-Carbs tend to be the easiest macronutrient to digest as they provide the quickest source of energy. Fats are slower digesting and provide more lasting and consistent energy. Protein requires the most energy to digest and is best used for repairing and recovering from what you’ve done. So consume carbs and fat for what you are about to do and consume protein for what you did.

StrongFit’s nutrition protocol takes into account eating real food and avoiding processed food and added sweeteners, just like our SMERF challenge. If we are supposed to be up and active during the day, we want to consume foods that give us energy to do things. Carbs and fats do that, but fats are better at giving us a more sustained source of energy and allowing us to think clearer. Consuming a lot of carbs or sugar is good for small bursts of energy and staying focused on one particular thing (sounds a lot like the stimulants we use to medicate people with ADD or ADHD….. huh). As for protein, it is a pretty poor source of energy at the time of consuming it. Ever eaten a lot of meat at lunch and then went back to work? How did you feel?

So using the things we just laid out, we should be able to piece together what this nutrition protocol would generally recommend. We could use carbs for times of higher energy output and intense focus. That sounds like a workout to me. Now, if you are experimenting with No-Fix then you will have to train without carbs giving you a kick. I do it all the time. Trust me, you will be ok. But if you are not doing No-Fix and you just want to clean up your routine, then keep carbs to just before, during, or just after training. If we need longer periods of sustained energy and mental clarity, fats would work best. That sounds like a work day to me. If we need to recover from the day or from training, we need to be in as much of a parasympathetic state as possible. This looks like calm, relaxation, and socializing. That sounds like evening dinner.

So to summarize, eat as many veggies as you can, keep it to mostly fats during the day (nuts, high-fat dairy like plain yogurt, cheese, whole milk, avocados, etc.), consume your high protein meals only at the end of your day when you are in as calm of a state as possible, and if you are consuming higher carb foods keep it to around training. The more of a sympathetic state you are in, the worse you will digest protein. So when it comes to combining foods like eating meat and rice (or any other high-carb food) how do you think that is impacting your digestion?

For me, this had a definite impact on my energy during the day and my sleep quality. I encourage you to try it and see what you think! It takes work to change your routine, but how else will you grow?

 

author: Jacob Watts

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