“Chug, chug, chug!” “Just slam it!” and my personal fave: “I should have brought my beer helmet.” This month’s Great Fitness Experiment, continued from last month’s Rachel Cosgrove: The Female Body Breakthrough*, has the Gym Buddies and I releasing our inner frat boy. Not that that’s hard to do what with all the burping, pit sniffing
, grunting and “adjusting”- albeit more northern than southern -going on in our group. (Side note: Speaking of bizarre noises in the gym, you should have heard Gym Buddy Krista and I trying to explain to the others what Zuzana sounds like
in all her videos. We got more weird looks than usual that day. The girl has crazyintense workouts but take my advice and watch them with the volume turned waaaay down.)
While I have mainly focused my posts on the workout portion of Cosgrove’s book (this last phase is killing us! Send help, and Icy Hot, stat!), she does include a section on diet. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before: eat 5-6 mini meals a day with a protein and fat at each meal, eat lots of veggies, watch the fruit, ditch the sugar. She tells you to strive to eat healthy 80% of the time. Some of you asked me how this fit in with my Intuitive Eating. I did – and am – sticking with IE as it has been so successful for me, both mentally and physically
but I will say that the way I eat intuitively matches up pretty well with her recommendations. There were only two dietary points I had problems with: the protein shakes and the carb cycling.
Protein Shakes for Better Muscle Growth and Recovery
The source of all the aforementioned beverage-induced chanting is our daily protein shakes. R.Cos instructs you to drink a protein shake within 15 minutes of finishing each weight-lifting workout. Her reasoning is that some studies have shown
that eating a blend of quick absorbing protein and carbs right after a weight workout builds more lean muscle than with no post-workout refuel or with just a carb drink like Gatorade. Not being a fan of protein powder, I originally considered showing up to the gym with a chicken breast and an apple but apparently “quick absorbing” macronutrients is the key so it had to be a shake. Another option is chocolate milk
but I’m not a huge fan of drinking milk and I’d prefer to get my sugar from fruit rather than high fructose corn syrup.
Many of you love your protein shakes. Whole blogs are dedicated just to the art of shaking. I, however, am the girl who made turd cookies
so clearly I can’t be trusted with fancy recipes. Here’s my super uncreative shake recipe: handful of frozen berries, couple chunks of frozen avocado, BIG handful of spinach, big scoop of full fat plain yogurt, 1 scoop protein powder and enough water so my Vita-Mix (also known as the only appliance that has a permanent home on my countertop, I love it that much) doesn’t have a heart attack. Deb the Smoothie Gir
l even took pity on me and sent me a package of xanthan gum and guar gum which are supposed to improve the texture of the shake. (Dear Post Office: please ignore the shipments of baggies filled with white powder arriving at my door. Thank you.)
I still don’t love my protein shakes and here’s why: I like to chew. Nay, I need to chew. I still chew my protein shake even though there is nothing to bite down on and this makes me sad for my poor deluded jaw muscles. I’m not the only quirky one though. Gym Buddy Jeni insists on plopping a scoop of protein powder straight into her water bottle and shaking it up: baby formula for grown-ups! Krista cannot be bothered to make a shake but she does love protein bars and even brings some to share. It’s like a big, unhygienic protein potluck on the stretching mats! Allison, also a big fan of chewing, absolutely refuses to have anything to do with the protein shakes.
In the end, I decided to go ahead and stick with the shakes because while I don’t really love them, the research is pretty compelling and frankly I feel better when I eat right after my workout. I’d often leave the gym feeling a little light-headed and shaky and if I had to run errands that meant I wouldn’t eat lunch until a couple of hours later. The shakes fixed that problem right up!
Carb Cycling for Greater Fat Loss
The other interesting dietary tidbit in Cosgrove’s book is the age-old bodybuilding concept of carb cycling. The gist of it is that you have a certain number of low-carb days – three is popular – followed by one high-carb day with the theory being that you’ll lose fat on the low-carb days but get the crucial glycogen to your brain and muscles on the high-carb day. Another reason bodybuilders use this to lean out is because they say carbs cause your body to retain extra water to store them so when you drop the carbs, it can help you de-bloat as well.
I didn’t do this. First because it wouldn’t work at all with my IE and second because I have already tried this. And tried this. And tried this. Back in my macronutrient-tracking days I did many iterations of carb cycling. It didn’t seem to do much for my body except to make me binge on carbs on the high days. I know some bodybuilders swear by this – Cosgrove does – but I haven’t had much success with it physically and it also makes me crazy.
Conclusion: protein shakes, surprisingly, thumbs up! Carb cycling, thumbs down.
Do you have a fave smoothie recipe that’s simple enough even I can’t screw it up? (Feel free to leave links in the comments!) Have you ever tried carb cycling? How did it work for you? Do you have any frat boy gym habits??
*No I don’t have an Amazon affiliate link but boy howdy do I wish I did after the number of you that bought it! That’s ok, you can make it up to me by buying my book;)
Written with love by Charlotte Hilton Andersen for The Great Fitness Experiment (c) 2010. Thanks for reading!