Here is a quick video from Brad Pilon (the author of the Eat Stop Eat Intermittent Fasting ebook series) about how food and insulin relate. It has some interesting observations when concerning protein and carbohydrate intake.
If for some reason you can not see the video (RSS/Email), you can also see it directly on YouTube here.
What do we already know about fat loss and hormones? Well the fat cells are like “storage” tanks that store fats until the body signals to “release” those fats to be used a fuel/energy (aka burned). One of the biggest hormones that we have control over with our eating habits is insulin. This is important to know because of the relationship it has with other important hormones involved in helping us to burn fat, namely glucagon and growth hormone. Insulin when released in large quantities is telling the body to “get ready to store some fuel in the tanks”, as it is increased with large meals (or large bursts of sugar into the bloodstream). Glucagon and Growth Hormone are 2 important hormones used in lipolysis (the process of breaking down and releasing stored fats inside the “tanks”).
Here’s the key, when insulin goes up….then glucagon and growth hormone will lower, and when insulin is low then glucagon and growth hormone can elevate. What does this have to do with working out? Well if your goal is to “burn” up stored fat, then you want an environment that allows and promotes fat to be released right? Having high insulin levels during a workout will not be an optimal environment for the hormones most responsible for freeing up fat from storage. So what is the solution?
Well looking at the video you can see that insulin can remain elevated for 2-3 hours after large enough meals. Ideally you want to go into a fat burning based workout in a more “fasted” state, not “fed” (one in which you want to spike those GH levels with some intensity and burn that fat as fuel for your activity). This can be done first thing in the morning when insulin should be at it’s lowest (and you are fasted from overnight) or if later in the day then you should be waiting 2-3 hours after your last meal. Remember, you don’t need to eat to workout as you should have enough fuel as stored glycogen in your muscles, liver….and oh yeah, you want to burn fat remember?!
The best kinds of workouts can be in the AM (or later) and will start off with more intensity (intervals, sprinting, explosive lifting, heavy lifting) to get those GH levels spiked…and then trail off into slower paced activity to burn that fat (what I like to call “lifestyle” cardio). Remember, short intensity based activity first….then the slower enjoyable stuff….go ride a bike, play tennis, whatever you enjoy. Once you tell the body to free up the fat…and they are floating around waiting to be burned…then you still need to go do something to burn it! (otherwise it just gets stored back into the “tanks”).
Brad also has another great short video on protein (and intake) here along with a brand new book on protein (and all the myths and truths exposed). He is actually giving it away for FREE with Eat Stop Eat until Wed. (then you have to buy a larger more expensive package to buy it later…or pay for it by itself) So if you have been waiting to get a copy of Eat Stop Eat (as Brad knows his research) or any of all the newer more advanced material he offers, now is the time as you will get the protein book free.