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Thread: Eat lots on workout days, off-days, or both? page

  1. #1
    The Big L's Avatar
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    Eat lots on workout days, off-days, or both?

    After I recently started a modest body weight strength training program, I found that my appetite naturally increased. This was a relief to me, because on a PB diet I lost about 15 pounds over the first two months -- and I was already quite thin to begin with. All the fat and protein in the PB diet made me full all the time, and I was constantly in a calorie deficit mode. I guess that's good if you want to lean out, but that wasn't what I needed.

    Anyway, since ramping up the intensity of my workouts lately I've had a very healthy appetite. While previously I struggled to take in more than about 1,800 calories a day, suddenly I can effortlessly get 2,500+. This is probably a good thing since my body needs the extra calories to recover from the workouts.

    My question is, are there particular days/times when it's better to eat a lot? Right now I'm just following my appetite. If that means I'm exceptionally hungry the day after my workout, then that's when I eat a lot. If I happen to be hungry the day of my workout, I'll eat a lot then. This comes from my philosophy that my body will tell me what it needs and when. But I was just wondering whether I'm missing prime opportunities to fuel my body optimally for my workouts and recovery.

    N00b question, I know. But I'm new to strength training, so that explains it.

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    There is increased growth hormone (GH) production after workouts if you do not eat, but directly post-workout is the prime time for protein synthesis so you can either eat right after or 1-2 hours after and still get positive benefits. If you want to get bigger muscles quicker you should probably eat directly afterwards.

    Martin at Leangains believes you should ingest a small amount of protein directly before your workout. I think this is only pertinent if you are having extreme hunger pangs and can't concentrate on pumping iron; if this is happening to me, I have a few spoonfulls of almong butter and then hit the weights so I can concentrate on lifting and not my gut.

    Just eat when your body tells you to eat. We live in the greatest age in human history right now, we only have to pay money for food and don't have to gather or kill it ourselves. Eat to satiety, lift, and be merry. Strength and muscle will surely follow.

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    Molecular Grokologist's Avatar
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    I mostly agree, but you may want to eat more than you're actually hungry for if you're in any way a "hardgainer". I only started putting on muscle when I started going out of my way to eat more than I was actually hungry for. High calorie intakes are an anabolic stimulus.
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    Good feedback. I was wondering this myself. I usually eat a little before I workout to calm my stomach. Then wait an hour after workout to eat my protein.

    Grokolodist- I have been hearing different theories on when to fast, in relation to your workouts. Does it really matter if you fast the day before or the day after your workout? as long as you eat the day of your workout...

    Big L- So, you found it easy to eat more cals in a day now that you started training more. Thats a good sign, I was worried I would have to force myself to eat now that I am weight training on a regular basis.
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    Molecular Grokologist's Avatar
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    As far as I know, the timing of fasting doesn't make a difference worth worrying about. Even the much-touted growth hormone surge from working out fasted is pretty modest and short-lived. It might make some small difference, but not enough to keep you from just doing what's convenient instead of stressing yourself out.
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  6. #6
    The Big L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstrudle View Post
    Just eat when your body tells you to eat. We live in the greatest age in human history right now, we only have to pay money for food and don't have to gather or kill it ourselves. Eat to satiety, lift, and be merry. Strength and muscle will surely follow.
    Yeah, that's pretty much been my approach. I like to keep it simple and natural...but at the same time I'd like to know if there's something obvious I can do with nutrition to significantly improve the efficiency of building strength and muscle. Sounds like the answer generally leans toward the "no" side.

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    The Big L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Molecular Grokologist View Post
    I mostly agree, but you may want to eat more than you're actually hungry for if you're in any way a "hardgainer". I only started putting on muscle when I started going out of my way to eat more than I was actually hungry for. High calorie intakes are an anabolic stimulus.
    I definitely believe I'm a hardgainer. All my life I've been able to eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. I did manage to gain about 10 lbs over a period of a couple years by eating atrocious amounts of sugary carbs. But I rather easily lost 150% that amount in just a couple months of lower carb, PB-like dieting.

    I'm going to experiment with eating a whole lot (at least by my standards) and see what happens. Hopefully I'll find it's possible to put on some muscle mass fairly quickly without adding too much fat. But if the fat comes, I now know how to make it go away pretty easily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danger_Dave View Post
    Big L- So, you found it easy to eat more cals in a day now that you started training more. Thats a good sign, I was worried I would have to force myself to eat now that I am weight training on a regular basis.
    My #1 problem with PB diet was that my appetite always put me in a pretty significant calorie deficit -- we're talking 600+ calorie/day deficit, easily. Like you, I was also worried that I would have to force-feed myself in order to get enough food to fuel my workouts. For me it is very unpleasant and difficult to make myself eat more than my appetite suggests. So it's been a big relief that my appetite has ramped up to meet the demand. That probably sounds crazy to some people, but such is the curse of being a hardgainer!

    You'll have to let us know whether your appetite increases naturally too. Hopefully it does!

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