Ever hear that old adage “eating anything white is bad?” additionally, some trainers and coaches may say, “It’s all bad – white rice, white bread, milk and cheese!” I am going to disagree and talk about how white food products do serve a purpose within an athlete’s eating regime. As a HS athlete, I recall being on the See Food Diet- I ate everything in sight! Literally, I ate pizza, sandwiches, cereal and those amazing cookie sandwiches with frosting in the middle- YUM! I wasn’t like most American’s today; overweight, I was in elite shape and was always curious why a lot of my counterparts were so chubby! I am going to go out on a limb and say what most healthcare professionals preach today is incorrect. The cure for the obesity epidemic (especially for adolescence) is exercising, not dieting. When you are young, you can eat whatever the hell you want, IF, and only IF, you are playing sports and using heavy resistance training. Here’s why. Every time you use heavier loads (4-12 reps) with a decent amount of volume (a minimum of 3 sets), the body requires more fuel to repair the damaged muscles. As with any form of exercise, the body releases catabolic hormones (hormones that break things down), like cortisol, in order to get fuel into our working cells.
The longer the body stays in a catabolic state after a workout, the longer it will take to clear cortisol out of the body. Anabolic hormones, such as insulin and testosterone, are anti-catabolic hormones. Insulin is released from the pancreas in various amounts depending on the amount of sugar that is released into the blood. Testosterone is maximally released during resistance training programs incorporating: larger muscles (legs, chest, back and shoulders), moderate rest periods (1-3 minutes), higher volumes (4+ sets) and moderate to heavy loads (4-12 reps) (Kraemer et al., 2005).
Some exercise physiologists say that the most anabolic hormone the body can produce is insulin. So what are some food choices that will release a lot of insulin? Any type of food that has simple sugars, i.e. white breads, rice and some fruits. The faster sugar can get into the blood stream, the quicker the light switch is turned on to release insulin and start build muscle. If sugar is not consumed after a workout, one will remain in a catabolic state, aka not building your muscle until the body is able to return to its pre-workout homeostasis. Here are the foods that are dubbed “bad,” but are actually “good” after a workout: 1. White rice 2. Rice cakes 3. Pastries 4. Chocolate Milk (the monosaccharide galactose needs to be converted into glucose, which is not as efficient as pure glucose) 5. Fruit* *Fruit contains fructose which needs to be processed by the liver in order to make glucose, which takes time. As of late, fruit has been given a negative rep because of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Fruit does contain fructose, but fructose is different from HFCS. HFCS is made from corn that usually has been modified by man. HFCS is cheap and very unhealthy. Many doctors today believe that HFCS is the result of our obesity epidemic- this is not farfetched. Fruit would be the healthier option for those concerned about white, refined products, but technically not as efficient as glucose. My favorite post workout snacks: 1. Peanut butter, banana and 100% honey sandwich on white bread. Just make sure the honey is bought from a farmers’ market. 2. Chicken stir-fry with white rice. Add in your topping of choice i.e. hot sauce, peanut sauce, sweet sauce. 3. Almond Butter and dates. Use ½ tbsp. of almond butter and put inside the date. Make sure to take the pit out! Dates have the highest glycemic index of all fruits. Having 3-4 of these after a workout is super easy and not too filling, which will allow you to eat another meal within an hour or so.
Remember if your goal is to put on size, you need to break down your muscle with volume training and eat a lot more! SEE FOOD DIET! 4. Chocolate Milk. This new craze is a great post-workout recovery drink. It is a complete protein with the perfect amount of sugar to maximize growth. 5. Pastries. Go to Starbucks and/or any doughnut shop and consume a pastry or two. Carb Backloading by John Kieffer explains this in further detail and is much more scientific. Essentially, let your inner fat kid come out. There are certain foods that get a bad rep in the sport performance community and white, sugary foods are the culprit. These foods are advantageous to athletes if they are consumed at the right time i.e. after a heavy, high intense, resistance training workout. If you consume these foods during off days or when you’re not working out as hard, you’ll probably turn that six pack into a pot belly! If you want to add some muscle in 2014, you’ll need to start working out harder and eating some post workout sugary foods. Eating a sandwich, chocolate milk or even a doughnut won’t kill you, it will actually help you look, and perform better!
Kraemer, W.J., and Ratamess, N.A. (2005) Hormonal responses and adaptations to resistance exercise and training. Sports Medicine, 35, (4), 339-61