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Thread: Insulin vs. Cortisol, or: How to Feed and Water Your Muscles page

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    darkersolace's Avatar
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    Insulin vs. Cortisol, or: How to Feed and Water Your Muscles

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    So I've been reading and looking into weight training much more seriously lately, but I could still use some guidance. I typically do weight training 2x a week -- I'm using the StrongLifts 5x5 program as a basis, though starting out lighter that recommended so I can get form down before moving to higher weight. I'm also looking at making kettlebells so I can add some of those exercises into the mix, but I don't have access to those ATM.

    My question is more on the nutrition aspect: I was reading this article and the correlation between cortisol and insulin, and I'm wondering if I should change my feeding habits to maximize my weight-training benefits. I've been sticking close to VLC (I already know that ketosis isn't optimal for me, so I can check that off at least), but I typically don't eat post-workout or if I do I consume mostly fats and protein. Since cortisol is already elevated from VLC plus the stress from weight training, and I'm not raising my insulin significantly post-workout: am I shooting myself in the foot? I'm more concerned with gaining lean mass than I am dropping scale weight, so I don't want to start catabolizing the muscle I have already created.
    5'6" 27 y/o female, Primal 6 months and counting.

    CW: 160 -- in single-digit dress sizes for the first time in 12 years!

    GW: 150 -- for swimsuit season

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    For what's it's worth, over the past few months I've added sweet and white potatoes in pretty large quantities to my post workout meals and I have had a much easier time gaining muscle. (Sorry to those who are tired of me posting this same message; I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record). Check out Intermittent fasting diet for fat loss, muscle gain and health. I don't keep my fat as low as Martin recommends post-workout. It's pretty much the same any time I eat, I just add a fairly large amount of starch from potatoes post-workout.

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    darkersolace's Avatar
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    Thanks, yodiewan. I am leaning toward some sort of starch post workout, so thanks for the input (FWIW, I hadn't seen your posts prior to this one about your potato consumption . I've read Martin's blog, but since I suspect my cortisol level is already higher than it should be, I'm going to avoid IF for right now and just rearrange my feeding schedule a bit.
    5'6" 27 y/o female, Primal 6 months and counting.

    CW: 160 -- in single-digit dress sizes for the first time in 12 years!

    GW: 150 -- for swimsuit season

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    I still have a training drink when I lift heavy (which is 3 times per week right now) that usually consists of 35g P and 50-60g C while I lift. It's either Biotest Surge Recovery or just whey protein and dextrose.
    I do, however, IF up until I train. I have found that drinking this during training is the best way for me to *add* muscle and I can still lose fat. If I really want to crank up the fat loss I will just have 20g BCAAs during training and will not have any carbs (<50g day) after training.

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    you should definitely be adding starchy carbs in post workout. Think of your lifting days as carb refeeds to replenish the glycogen you used up in your workouts. Try to get ~150g on lifting days, and remember to drop your fat intake on those days.
    I didn't like the rules you gave me, so I made some of my own.

    Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general. - Mark Rippetoe

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    Have skimmed the article - be careful with this one. He really describes a marathon athlete - if you do 5x5 you do not use that many carbs and you certainly do not have to refill them with sports drinks.

    Federkeil: why so many carbs? Just curious - my feeling was that my incremental carb needs after 5x5 RM squats and press, and 1x5 RM deads (typical SL workout) is maybe 20-30g tops (at 100kg CW) but I could be wrong

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor Falk View Post
    Have skimmed the article - be careful with this one. He really describes a marathon athlete - if you do 5x5 you do not use that many carbs and you certainly do not have to refill them with sports drinks.

    Federkeil: why so many carbs? Just curious - my feeling was that my incremental carb needs after 5x5 RM squats and press, and 1x5 RM deads (typical SL workout) is maybe 20-30g tops (at 100kg CW) but I could be wrong
    I don't have any data on hand other than general LeanGains propaganda. I eat a sweet potato after my lifts, which works out to around 150g of carbs. It's been working great for me, I'm still dropping fat and adding muscle.

    Something to do with increasing Leptin sensitivity I believe.
    I didn't like the rules you gave me, so I made some of my own.

    Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general. - Mark Rippetoe

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    Quote Originally Posted by federkeil View Post
    I don't have any data on hand other than general LeanGains propaganda. I eat a sweet potato after my lifts, which works out to around 150g of carbs. It's been working great for me, I'm still dropping fat and adding muscle.

    Something to do with increasing Leptin sensitivity I believe.
    I think federkeil is referring to carb-loading, which isn't necessarily what I'm looking for. I do carb-load infrequently, but on sprint days rather than weight days because I feel like I expend more energy during sprints (I'm not lifting very heavy yet, so I may reevaluate after I've ramped up my 5x5 program). I think Thor falk hit at what I was asking, that slightly upping my carbs post-workout may be helpful.

    I'm also interested in BCAAs -- are they useful for taking on a daily basis for fat burning, or only on weight training days?
    5'6" 27 y/o female, Primal 6 months and counting.

    CW: 160 -- in single-digit dress sizes for the first time in 12 years!

    GW: 150 -- for swimsuit season

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    Quote Originally Posted by darkersolace View Post
    I'm also interested in BCAAs -- are they useful for taking on a daily basis for fat burning, or only on weight training days?
    From what I recall reading on Leangains, Martin recommends ~10g BCAA pre-lifting if you have been fasting up to that point, since training completely fasted can be detrimental to muscle gains. The BCAAs help limit/prevent? muscle catabolism that would otherwise occur. I don't think there is any advantage to using them on non-lifting days, but I could be wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by federkeil View Post
    I eat a sweet potato after my lifts, which works out to around 150g of carbs. It's been working great for me, I'm still dropping fat and adding muscle.
    I'm glad to report good progress with Leangains also. Just for informational purposes, unless that is a HUGE sweet potato you're eating, it probably has less than 150g of carbs. A pound of baked mashed sweet potato (skin not included) has about 92g of carbs. I think they lose a fair amount of weight in cooking (water->steam being driven off) and the peel accounts for some weight too.
    Sorry, I'm getting all caught up in details again. If you're getting good results and feeling good, that's what matter.

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