The evening athlete

Some people wake up in the morning supercharged with energy and ready to tackle their workout program. Others take several hours before they are feeling up to par. For the latter group, getting to the gym in the morning is a nearly insurmountable challenge. Evening workouts provide a better opportunity as far as motivation is concerned, but there may be special dietary considerations for the evening trainee.

Insulin Management

1. Insulin is the most anabolic (muscle-building) hormone in our body. But it is also a double-edged sword, as it is also the primary fat-storage hormone. Thankfully, we can exercise fair amounts of control over this powerhouse. Insulin is primarily produced in direct response to the types of foods we consume--carbohydrate consumption triggers insulin production to a substantially greater degree than protein or fat.

So for the athlete who lifts in the evenings, keeping a tight rein on insulin production during the day is crucial to keeping slim and shedding pounds. To that end, we recommend that you severely limit carb intake during the day--keep your carbohydrate intake limited strictly to fruits and vegetables. This recommendation changes immediately following your workout. There, you want to immediately spike insulin to begin the muscle-growth process, allowing your body to recover from the workout. Consume a meal containing fast-digested carbs and protein, with minimal fat--something like chicken and rice will do the trick nicely. Eat a moderately sized protein and carbohydrate meal immediately following your workout, and again around an hour later. This will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to recover and grow. And thanks to your carbohydrate restriction during the pre-workout hours, your body will be more sensitive to the insulin produced, resulting in less chance that the nutrients will be stored as fat.

Eating during your day

2. Aside from ensuring that your post-workout meals are correctly balanced, the evening lifter must also make certain that he/she properly fuels his body during the day. Otherwise, you will feel flat and fatigued when it is time to workout, and your fat-loss efforts will be impaired by your lack of energy. So throughout the day, be sure to consume a meal every two to three hours. Each meal should consist of a lean protein source (meat, eggs, fish, poultry), fruit and vegetables. Additionally, limit your beverages to zero-calorie choices like water and green tea. Some coffee is all right, but do not go overboard on the caffeine as you will likely crash sometime before your workout, which will also hinder your progress. Aside from that, try to keep away from liquid meals, which are digested too rapidly and can also cause minor insulin fluctuations. And be certain to ingest adequate calories from fat, as a number of hormonal systems in the body rely upon dietary fat--consume at least 25 percent of your calories from a mix of animal fats, fats from fruits and vegetables (like avocados and coconuts) and oils (like olive and macadamia nut).

Through keeping close control over your insulin levels and properly feeding your body at regular intervals during the day, your evening workouts and your fat loss efforts will proceed that much more smoothly.

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