For those of you who are interested in understanding the science behind our methods then this is the section for you. You will find information on :
Nutrient timing phase one – Energy phase
Nutrient timing phase two – Anabolic building phase
Nutrient timing phase three – Growth repair and recovery
Safe fat loss
Here at YBP we seek to educate, by giving you the facts and allowing you to make your own informed choices and decisions on how to be the best and healthiest you can be!
With all the contradicting information in the media plus the latest gimmicks and concepts it’s easy to lose track of what to do and tempting to follow the latest health or exercise trend. Believe us, they are usually trends for a reason, they don’t actually work in the long term. We advocate a good healthy balanced approach to achieving your goal, tailor made for you.
We have done the research and the hard work for you, as there are many completely opposing studies with much of the research being very generic and not taking into account: body type, age, gender, height, weight, ethnicity, lifestyle, hormone balances, allergies or intolerances. All of which affect how an individual responds to exercise and nutrition. One size does not fit all and at YBP we treat you as an individual giving you a bespoke exercise and nutrition programme based on the above factors, plus the goal you have chosen.
Factors such as what and when we eat, what style of training we perform, how hard we train, how long we sleep and how we deal with stress all differ from person to person. Most importantly these factors affect us all in very different ways. For example, some people will need to eat a high carbohydrate diet to help achieve their goal, while for others a low carbohydrate diet would be more appropriate. In terms of exercise, some people’s training regime should consist predominately of cardio exercise, while others would benefit more from resistance training. Therefore it is essential to understand your body and how it responds to exercise and nutrition. Ultimately the message we hope to convey is to be proud of your body-type. We all have a natural genetic shape and, with work, these shapes can all look great!
The body goes through different metabolic phases during the day, but we believe it’s important to begin the day correctly by drinking 200 to 300ml of water upon waking. This will help to hydrate you after a night's sleep and also aid digestion. Not drinking enough water can cause bloating, as the body will hold onto whatever water it has stored in the muscles in an effort to maintain necessary hydration for metabolism and other bodily functions. This can give a bloated appearance. Women tend to be more vulnerable to this due to higher fluctuations of hormone levels, especially during menstruation
Whatever your goal, nutrient timing can be the difference between success and failure. It’s often the most overlooked aspect of many training regimes, when it could be argued it should be the most important. When you eat and what you eat will affect your body in lots of ways, from manipulating hormones, replenishing macronutrient stores (carbs, fat, protein), preventing muscle loss, reducing muscle damage or boosting your immune system to help you get the best and quickest results. What, when and how much you eat varies a great deal depending on your goal, gender, weight, height and body type. Nutrient timing is not exclusive to the hours around your training session, but from the hour before training and the hours after and up until your next training session. At different times during the day your body requires, and is more receptive to certain nutrients, than at other times. If you eat the wrong food at the right time, or the right food at the wrong time, then you will miss the opportunity to maximise your results.
Nutrient timing phase one
There are three nutrient timing phases. The first is the energy phase where you fuel your body before and during the training session. When you exercise your body will release stored sugar (glycogen) and cleave amino acids from muscle. Even if you are training early it’s important to try to eat something light before exercise. For inspiration take a look at our snack ideas. It has been shown that training while in a fasted state increases cortisol levels, which suppresses the immune system and breaks down muscle tissue. Eating something small and easily digestible will reduce cortisol levels and give you energy to train harder, yielding better results. A simple rule is that it should be soft to touch, as this means your digestive system can break it down comfortably preventing indigestion. Avoid fatty foods as they are slow to digest and can make you feel sluggish and cause cramping. Avoid carbohydrates with a high GL (glycemic load) prior to training as these will give you a sugar rush, and inevitably an energy crash in the middle of a workout. Lastly, don’t eat too big a meal pre-training as it may cause nausea or vomiting. For more on this read our article on eating before training. Research has shown that consuming carbohydrates with protein prior to training helps spare muscle glycogen, reduce the catabolic (cutting) effects that cortisol has on muscle, decrease muscle damage, and help ready muscles for a quicker recovery post exercise. During your training session we advise taking BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) with 300 to 350 ml of water to be used for energy rather than breaking down muscle. BCAA's increase nutrient availability for working muscles, limit immune suppression, help to reduce glycogen loss and the inevitable resulting muscle breakdown.
When training your cortisol level will rise and the longer and/or harder you train the higher it will rise. Amongst its many impacts on the body, cortisol’s main role is to generate fuel to working muscles. It does this by breaking down stored carbohydrate, fat and protein. Usually the body uses these fuels in this order to produce the energy needed to workout. You can read more about this in our separate article about energy currency and energy systems. However, when you place your body under stress, as you do during high intensity training, the release of cortisol causes the priority of the macronutrient breakdown to change from carbohydrate, fat then protein into carbohydrate, protein and lastly fat. This causes an increase in plasma amino acids, specifically glutamine and branched chain amino acids. These amino acids have been obtained from muscle to provide extra fuel for the body, as high intensity activities deplete carbohydrate stores, and fat cannot be broken down fast enough at high intensities. So we know that the harder and/or longer we train, the higher the cortisol level and, subsequently, the more muscle is broken down. Therefore the correct nutrient timing is critical to prevent this. The foremost reason for cortisol increase after high intensity exercise is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), so consuming the correct nutrients, depending on your goal and body type, before, during and after training will help to reduce cortisol, and its more negative effects.
Nutrient timing phase two
The next phase is called the anabolic (building) phase, which is the fifteen minutes directly after training. In this phase we recommend that you consume high GL carbohydrates, protein, vitamin C and glutamine. It is essential to get the correct nutrients in this window. Miss it and you will have wasted the opportunity to make the most of the hard work you did during your training session. This phase initiates repair to damaged muscle and replenishes muscle glycogen stores. Muscle damage is essential for your body to adapt and change, but we need the correct nutrition in place to help speed up the recovery, ready for the next session.
In this post exercise period muscle cells become particularly sensitive to the hormone insulin, and this is when you need to shift your body from a catabolic (breaking down) state to an anabolic (building) one. Insulin is a hormone that has a bad name due to its link with fat storage. It is true that too many of the wrong type of carbohydrates at the wrong time will increase insulin and cause fat storage, but used correctly, insulin is essential for maximising results during this window. Insulin is very sensitive to carbohydrate post exercise. It is crucial to take advantage of this sensitivity, as within an hour of exercise the benefits will drop by 50 percent. Post training your body will be in a catabolic state and this time of heightened insulin sensitivity consuming the correct type and amount of carbohydrate will replenish glycogen stores rather than increase fat storage. This quick uptake of carbohydrate and essential amino acids will also initiate protein synthesis, muscle repair and help bring down cortisol levels. The rise in insulin will increase blood flow to the muscles, aiding the removal of carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and help to bring oxygen and essential nutrients to the muscle. It may seem a little confusing at this point. How can high insulin cause fat storage and replenish glycogen stores? When you are sedentary your fat cells are more sensitive to the effects of insulin, meaning when you eat carbohydrates whilst sitting at work, for example, the high insulin will cause the circulating blood sugar (carbohydrate) to be taken up by the fat cells, and convert it to fat (lipogenisis) and store it. However, after exercise it is the muscle cells that become more sensitive to the influence of insulin, having a glycogen replenishing effect.
This increase in insulin will also increase amino acid uptake into the muscle, driving protein synthesis. After exercise there is protein synthesis (building) but there is greater protein catabolism (breakdown), leaving the body in a protein negative state (nitrogen deficit). This is why is it essential at this stage to introduce the correct nutrients at this insulin sensitive point will switch the balance to protein synthesis (positive nitrogen balance). Therefore we suggest you have a protein shake containing your recommended grams of protein and carbohydrates. Whey is generally considered the best one, although some people prefer vegan or vegetarian alternatives. It’s a good idea to buy a high protein low carbohydrate mix and add your own carbohydrate in the form of dextrose or maltodextrose so you can measure your own specific quantities.
We recommend taking 1000mg of Vitamin C in this period to boost the immune system, which is suppressed during exercise. Vitamin C will help speed up the recovery of damaged muscles and reduce the hormone cortisol, preventing any further muscle breakdown. We also recommend taking 10g of Glutamine in this window. It is used by the muscles during exercise and therefore needs to be replaced and, like Vitamin C, it is also needed to fuel the immune cells.
Nutrient timing phase three
The third and final phase is the growth, repair and recovery phase. This is the 24-hours post training. It is in this phase that the majority of strength, muscle gains and adaptations occur. It’s essential in the next 24-hours to keep giving the body the nutrients it needs. Spread your carbohydrate, protein and fat evenly throughout this 24-hour period. The goal in this phase is to balance blood sugar.
The amount of carbohydrate your body requires on non-training days will inevitably be less than on training days. However, the 24 hours after exercise is when your body is actually repairing, building and adapting, so it is better to wait until after this window before reducing your carbohydrates. It’s only 24 hours after your last workout that your carbohydrate intake will need to be reduced, and for any subsequent, consecutive non-training days.
Safe fat loss
YBP’s approach is not the quick fix fad; it is scientifically based on the latest research. You won't lose a stone in a week. Quick weight loss is not healthy or maintainable. You may also notice that at YBP we say fat loss not weight loss, this is because with rapid weight loss there is more muscle tissue and water loss than fat. This has the effect of slowing down metabolism, actually making it easier to store fat, subsequently making you put on more fat than you had previously. This is where the term yo-yo dieting comes from. Leptin is a hormone that relates to the amount of fat you have, the more fat the more leptin. Leptin controls appetite, modulates metabolism and promotes fat burning. When fat drops dramatically there is also a drop in leptin, triggering the body to slip into starvation mode. Starvation mode causes a reduction of daily energy expenditure by lowering metabolism, increasing hunger signals and increasing the breakdown of protein for energy (gluconeogenesis) and slowing the breakdown of any further fat for energy (lipolysis). The extreme response by the body is not only to regain the fat that has been lost, but extra fat too. There are of course health risks related to rapid weight loss. Calorie restriction will inevitably cause a lack of essential nutrients. Nutrient deficiencies will affect the functioning of the whole body, causing immune suppression, fluid imbalances, cramps, loss of bone mass, the list could go on and on. A safe, attainable and maintainable fat loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week. Take note that Fat loss programmes tend to include more intense training routines. The increase in exercise intensity, accompanied by a calorie restricted diet and depleted glycogen stores, can cause tiredness. You will undoubtedly notice a slight loss in strength during a fat loss period.
Carbohydrates are the bodies preferred source of fuel. Consumed carbohydrates either need to be used immediately or stored as glycogen. Carbohydrates have received bad press over the years due to their association with fat gain. It’s true that eating the wrong type of carbohydrates in the wrong amounts and at the wrong time of day will cause fat gain. Whether the body uses or stores the carbohydrates depends on your glycogen (stored carbohydrate) status, and your activity level. When your blood sugar levels drop (hours without food or 25 to 30 minutes into a workout), glycogen will be released for fuel. Only a finite amount of glycogen can be stored, so it's essential to spread your carbohydrates throughout the day rather than eating too much at one sitting. Eating more carbohydrate than your body needs at any point will inevitably lead to it being converted to fat, a process called De novo lipogenesis. Whether you eat carbohydrates before bed depends on your goal and body type.
Eating some complex carbohydrates when you wake will provide some much needed energy to start the day, ensure glycogen stores are full for training and stop any muscle breakdown. How much and how long before training depends on your body type and goal.
Post workout your blood sugar and glycogen stores will have depleted, the longer and more intense the workout then the greater the depletion. Protein is also important at this time, however blood sugar and glycogen replenishment is the most important thing for your body. This is when the simple, fast acting carbohydrates are required, as your body is sensitive to the refuelling and recovery effects of insulin.
It’s essential to replenish your glycogen stores post-training. The body stores the carbohydrates we eat as glycogen. Glycogen is a multi-branched polysaccharide of glucose (single unit of carbohydrate). Our second long-term energy store, glycogen, is made in the cells of the liver and muscles. It is this energy reserve that is actually converted back into glucose during the training session. The more intense the session, the more that is used. Light or low intensity exercise/activities utilise the first long-term energy store, which is fat (this doesn’t mean you should be doing low intensity training to lose fat).
Each molecule of glycogen is hydrated with three to four parts water. This stored glycogen is important in helping prevent muscle catabolism (breakdown). At YBP we don’t advocate extreme low carbohydrate diets (ketogenic). The carbohydrate amount we estimate is based on your body type, goal and daily activity levels. Low carbohydrate diets are less than 150g per day, an extremely low carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet is below 50g per day. For more information read our separate article on ketosis.
Low carbohydrates in the diet will lower thyroid hormone output, as it tries to slow metabolism in order to prevent starvation. It will also cause low insulin production, which in turn will increase sodium loss through the kidneys, which coupled with high intensity interval training can leave you dehydrated and deficient in the important electrolytes. This will cause bloating, lightheadedness, headaches, fatigue and constipation. It’s important to balance blood sugar and have a slow controlled release of insulin, but like everything in the body homeostasis is key, too much/little is not advised. Too little carbohydrate will cause a depletion of glycogen, which will subsequently lead to fatigue, especially during high intensity workouts when you will want to have plenty of energy. It will also lead to the breakdown of protein from muscle. Conversely, eating too much carbohydrate, the wrong type and at the wrong time, will lead to too much insulin being produced by the cells in the pancreas and consequently fat gain. YBP have given you a base reference carbohydrate intake point to start from, which may change and need recalculating as you progress.
Keeping your blood sugar (glucose) balanced throughout the day is not only essential to prevent fat gain but it also prevents many other symptoms such as low energy, mood swings, depression, low immunity, inflammation, headaches, dizziness, the need for more than eight hours sleep, the need for tea or coffee to get going, frequent urination, heavy sweating, cravings for sweet foods, palpitations and feeling thirsty. Throughout the day blood glucose levels may fluctuate outside of the body’s desired blood glucose range. Blood sugar levels rise after a meal, stimulant or stress. If you are stressed, if you eat high glycemic carbohydrates or if you drink too much caffeine, you will experience an initial rise in blood sugar, followed by a crashing down to below the desired levels. Insulin is a hormone responsible for keeping the blood sugar levels within the normal desired range. Insulin works by opening channels on cell membranes to facilitate glucose uptake from blood into the cells.
To help keep your blood sugar within a healthy range, avoid refined foods (white bread, white pasta, white rice), sugary foods (confectionary, sugary drinks), convenience foods (they often contain hidden sugars and can be high in saturated fats) and stimulants (tea, coffee, alcohol, chocolate). Instead, eat foods that balance blood sugar such as whole grains (complex carbohydrates, which release sugars slowly into the blood to provide sustained energy and help balance blood sugar). These include brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, sweet potato, whole grain pasta and wholegrain bread. Oats are particularly good, making them an excellent choice, particularly for breakfast.
Aim for seven pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables per day, ideally having two pieces of fruit and five portions of vegetables (a single portion is around 80g). Fresh fruits and vegetables are a good source of fibre and contain essential vitamins and minerals that are needed for blood sugar balance and general health. Try to include a wide variety of colours including dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale.
Essential fats, found in oily fish, nuts, seeds and their oils, improve insulin’s ability to transport glucose out of the blood into cells. Although we do not advocate eating low carbohydrate diets at YBP, certain body types who tend to be intolerant to large amounts of carbohydrates will need to eat less than other body types, but still not an extremely low carb diet. The more sedentary a person is the less carbohydrates they will need.
You should include a protein source at each meal and snack, ideally a source that does not contain high levels of saturated fats. Protein slows digestion, which creates a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream and subsequently a gradual, even release of insulin. Fibre found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils also help slow the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream.
Drink plenty of water (mineral/filtered if possible), herbal / fruit teas and diluted fruit juices. Eating little and often is the way to help your body keep blood sugar balanced so include snacks in your diet.
You need to get the correct amount of protein in your diet to allow your body to build and repair your muscles. Tissues, ligaments, hair, skin, nails and muscles are all made from protein, as well as hormones, enzymes and some chemicals essential for life.
Protein is made from chains of smaller molecules called amino acids. These are the most basic building blocks of your body. Your body requires twenty-one amino acids to build proteins, it can make twelve but the remaining nine need to be obtained from food. These are called essential amino acids. These are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine and histidine. The body requires the correct amount of protein to provide it with these essential amino acids to build and repair. When you are training regularly it increases your body's demand for protein, as training damages muscles more than if you are sedentary. It’s still vital even for a sedentary person to consume adequate protein to prevent muscle loss and slowing of the metabolism.
Protein performs a wide variety of jobs including cell signalling (insulin is a protein), DNA replication and repair and muscle growth. Every day, not just the muscle cells, but all body cells, die and need to be repaired and replaced. This process is increased through exercise as you are essentially damaging muscle fibres so they grow back bigger and stronger. Not getting the correct amount of protein per day will affect the functioning of your body and therefore your results.
Making sure you have the right amount of protein will help you to build muscle, burn fat, preserve lean mass and increase satiety. There’s a lot of conflicting information as to how much protein you should eat per day. YBP performed a meta-analysis of many studies in order to give you what we believe to be your ideal amount of protein.
Like carbohydrates, overeating protein can also cause fat gain. Excess protein will be converted to glucose and if not used for energy converted into fat. Intake of protein should remain consistent on both training days and rest days as your body is in a state or recovery and repair throughout the week and therefore requires it.
Fats are important for correct and healthy functioning of the body. Fat has many jobs. Fat helps the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K, provides the highest concentration of stored energy of all the macronutrients (50 to 60,000 Kcals) and helps with regulating hormones. Fat is the preferred fuel for the body during lower intensity exercises such as walking, sitting at your desk and even when sleeping.
During long duration and low to moderate intensity exercise periods, fat provides the main fuel source. However a small amount is also needed during high intensity exercise (where carbohydrate is predominately used) to help access stored carbohydrate (glycogen). Fat is slow to digest, it can take up to six hours. The conversion of stored fat to energy (lipolysis) requires a great deal of oxygen, so exercise intensity must decrease for fat to be able to be used for fuel.
Fat is the dominant fuel source on rest days, due to the low intensity of general life (unless you have a very active job). Don’t eat fat immediately before or during exercise, as its long digestion time can cause a sluggish feeling and indigestion. It is also thought that fat can affect oxygen availability by decreasing nitric oxide (helps dilation of blood vessels). You may want to take a look at our separate article about the importance of fat.