Back to the gym | The answers from our experts

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Joe Dispenza
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We are thrilled for the reopening of the gyms! After months of searching for the motivation to train at home, we can finally get back to the gym. Once the initial enthusiasm has subsided, however, you realize that after such a long time you do not know how and where to start again ... Don't worry: we have expert answers to your most frequently asked questions at hand, so as to eliminate all the your doubts in time for the reopening of the gyms!


"Should I try to lift the same loads as when the gyms were open?"

It is advisable to start slowly and gradually arrive at the loads lifted before closing, in order to prevent any possible injury. The "detraining" usually takes place within three weeks, which means that the level of physical strength obtained when the gyms were still open will have dropped significantly. Unfortunately, therefore, it is unrealistic to think that you can reach your pre-lockdown milestones.


Fitness will return, it's just a matter of keeping focus and not stopping.

Start slowly and build up the loads gradually over a period of 4-8 weeks. When you train, then, the warm-up and cool-down can make a difference. Before your session, make sure you do a dynamic stretch and take 15 minutes at the end for a static stretch.

"What are the most effective ways to gain mass?"

When it comes to putting on mass (growth / hypertrophy), it is important to EAT, and a lot! Our muscles feed on carbohydrates and proteins, combined with a resistance training regimen focused on hypertrophy. Here are our 3 tips for gaining bulk:

1. Make sure you have a calorie surplus

By consuming more calories than your basal metabolic rate, you will be well on your way to building muscle. An easy way to get a calorie surplus is to have a high-carb meal 2 hours before your workout and a high-protein, high-carb snack after your workout.
Aim to consume 30-60g of carbohydrates before the session and 80g of carbohydrates, along with 20-30g of protein, once resistance training is complete.



2. Carbohydrates, carbohydrates and more carbohydrates

It is advisable to have a diet of carbohydrates before and after training. These are important for muscle growth as they promote protein saving, i.e. the body draws energy from glycogen (stored carbohydrates) rather than dismantling muscle tissue.
Consuming carbohydrates before and after a training session prevents the loss of muscle mass by accelerating its synthesis and recovery.

3. When to take protein?

Try to consume protein in multiple doses of 20-40g throughout the day, rather than taking it all at once with large meals. Aim for an overall consumption of 1,2-1,7 g per pound of body weight per day.

"What are the best foods for gaining muscle mass?"

It is not enough to lift heavy loads. Proper nutrition is also necessary. In this regard, the two main macronutrients are carbohydrates and proteins.
This powerful combination will pave the way for the development of muscle mass. Carbohydrates are particularly important for muscle hypertrophy (growth), while proteins are essential for synthesis and repair (recovery).

Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy and prove essential especially in high-intensity training sessions. In the absence of an adequate quantity in the "reservoir", in fact, the organism will spill over onto the proteins.

This represents a disadvantage in terms of muscle growth, as proteins serve for recovery, growth and repair. To promote muscle development, focus on the different timing of food intake:

2 hours before training

This is the right time to consume complex carbohydrates and proteins. This will result in a constant release of glucose, as well as favoring the sense of satiety. Ideally, this snack should be low in fiber and fat. Some examples are oatmeal with fruit and yogurt, granola and yogurt, a bagel with peanut butter, or a milk-based protein shake.



30-90 minutes before training

At this point, if you haven't eaten yet, it's best to have 30-60g of simple carbohydrates for a quick energy supply. You should also make sure that your snack is low in fat, fiber and protein to avoid intestinal upset.

Simple sugars and refined foods are the best options before training, as they tend to contain less fiber and provide energy faster than complex carbohydrates.
Some of the tastiest alternatives include fig bars, fresh fruit, dried fruit, 100% fruit juice, white bread, potatoes, and finally milk and cereals.

 

 

After training

An excellent post-workout snack could be a smoothie based on high-protein yogurt or protein powder, some fruit and a little milk, or a flatbread filled with chicken or tofu accompanied by a glass of orange juice.

"Can I put on muscle while I'm in a calorie deficit?"

In general, the answer is YES!

First, however, it is important to define what is meant by a caloric deficit. A calorie deficit occurs when fewer calories are consumed than burned. But first, you'll need to calculate your daily calorie needs and basal metabolic rate. If you want to gain muscle mass, you should also pay attention to your pre- and post-workout nutrition.
Growing muscles while you are in a calorie deficit is certainly not easy, however, with the right amounts of carbohydrates and proteins, before and after exercise, you will be able to preserve muscles. Just be careful not to overdo it and try to maintain the imposed deficit.


The ability to gain muscle mass when you are in a calorie deficit can also vary based on your fitness level. Beginners and people with relatively high percentages of body fat manage to gain both mass and strength in a calorie deficit.
Studies show that, in a calorie deficit situation, it is more difficult to gain muscle mass than strength when exercising. Your priority should be to preserve the lean muscle mass you already have.


In the case of a low calorie diet, the International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends that people who train against resistance consume approximately 2,3-3,1 g of protein per pound of body weight in order to maintain and increase lean muscle mass. .

While it is possible to grow muscles in a calorie deficit situation, it should be noted that the circumstances are not ideal. The results will certainly be more surprising in a condition of caloric surplus. Finally, if you intend to preserve and develop muscle mass, it is important to focus your training mostly on resistance exercises.

"Is it wrong to eat a high-sugar diet while you're in a calorie deficit?"

Were you hoping to be able to live on donuts and sweets and lose weight at the same time? First of all, it is appropriate to define what exactly is meant by sugars. Sugars are a form of carbohydrates which, once consumed, are broken down and converted into glucose, one of the body's main sources of energy.

Secondly, there are different types of sugars, usually known as simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates consist of more than three sugar molecules, while simple carbohydrates contain only one of two possible sugar molecules.

That said, sugars aren't necessarily harmful, as they are a source of energy. So, what about donuts and candy…?

Well, for starters, there is a reason why you still feel hungry after having a feast of sweets. A diet rich in added sugars, mostly derived from simple and more refined carbohydrates, will not make you feel full. This is because you may be deficient in certain nutrients that are important for health. A diet rich in refined sugars (added sugars) is not considered healthy if they are present in excessive quantities in the bloodstream, as this risks reducing insulin sensitivity and causing insulin resistance.

Reduced insulin sensitivity prevents glucose from being used as energy or stored as such (glycogen) in the liver and muscles. A buildup of this glucose in turn risks damaging blood vessels and leading to more serious long-term problems.

It is therefore important to try to opt for an 80/20 approach, in which 80% of the time you make healthy food choices by consuming fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats, while for the remaining 20% ​​you allow yourself a little flexibility and eat refined sugars.
By doing so, you can enjoy a good donut from time to time, while always keeping in mind that the quality of the food ingested matters as much as the quantity.

"What are the most effective supplements for losing weight?"

Before buying supplements, you need to pay attention to your diet.

  • Make sure you eat balanced meals that include healthy fats such as avocados, oils, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
  • As regards the carbohydrates, opt for wholemeal ones such as quinoa, barley, legumes, rice and wholemeal pasta.
  • consume lean proteins, for example fish and lean meats, poultry, legumes, tofu and tempeh.
  • To insert micronutrients in your courses (1-2 cups of vegetables per meal) will help you to center the basics of proper nutrition even before resorting to a supplement that paves the way to weight loss.

When it comes to weight loss, sustainability is everything - find a plan you can stick to.

"What's a great pre-workout meal?"

A great meal to eat 1-3 hours before training could consist of oatmeal with milk and berries, a yogurt with fruit and granola, a smoothie, or even a peanut butter toast.

The closer you get to the workout in question (30-60 minutes), the more you will need fast-release carbohydrates, such as fruit. To avoid ending up with an upset stomach in the middle of a repetition, opt for snacking a low in fiber and fat.

Low intensity exercises (with maximum heart rate <60%) can often be done on an empty stomach as the body will burn fat reserves; however in view of resistance and high intensity sessions (with maximum heart rate> 80%) it is important to be well energized.

"What's a great post-workout meal?"

Always keep the three "Rs" in mind. At the end of the session, you will have to distribute carbohydrates and proteins in the ratio of 3-4: 1 (carbohydrates: proteins). At the end of the session, you will have to keep in mind the three "Rs" that make up the recovery: "Refuel" (refueling with carbohydrates), "Repair" (repairing muscles with proteins) and "Rehydrate" (rehydrating through liquids).

Refuel: respecting the 3: 1 ratio of carbohydrates and proteins means taking about 30-40 g of carbohydrates and 10g of protein.
Repair: usually 0,3g / protein per kg of body weight (10-30g for most people).
Rehydrate: liquids + electrolytes. This could be moisturizing drinks, such as water, sports drinks and 100% fruit juices.

A good post-workout meal can range from practical whey protein isolate (powder) mixed with milk and a banana, to a flatbread filled with tofu / chicken / tuna / beans with a side of beans and vegetables.

"When should I take creatine while exercising?"

Ah, creatine! The magical supplement of the fitness world… You may have heard of it from your training buddies who are crazy about it, but how to take it can be a bit confusing.

In short, creatine improves performance in high intensity and short duration exercises. This is especially useful in sports such as sprinting, jumping and weightlifting. Creatine could increase muscle protein synthesis and glycogen storage. The best time to take it is before and after a training session, usually in doses of 5g per day.

Ingesting small amounts (e.g. 2-3g per day) of creatine monohydrate will increase the creatine stores in your muscles over a 3-4 week period. However, there is little evidence about the effect of this supplementation method on sports performance.

Adding creatine monohydrate (0,1 g of creatine per day per kg of body weight) to a carbohydrate and protein meal after training could promote even greater physiological adaptations to resistance training. Some studies also suggest that creatine muscle retention can be increased by combining it with carbohydrates and proteins after exercise.

"Does the" anabolic window "really exist?"

The "anabolic window" is a term used to refer to the intake of carbohydrates and proteins over a period of time ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours after the training session. This period was seen as the one in which the muscle is particularly predisposed to the absorption of glucose and proteins for the purpose of recovery and growth.

According to the International Journal of Sports Nutrition, the recommendation to consume quality protein in doses of 0,4–0,5 g per pound of lean muscle mass, both before and after exercise, is a general guideline based on current evidence of a short-lasting anabolic (muscle building and repair) effect of 20–40 g.

The evidence supporting such an "anabolic window of opportunity" is far from confirmed. If you start a fasting workout, then it will be important to replenish your protein and carbohydrate stores after the session.

However, if you face it having been full of carbohydrates 1-2 hours before, at that point there is no precise "window" to respect at its end. The next scheduled protein meal will be enough to maximize recovery as well as muscle repair and growth.

Not to forget

Adapting nutrition and training to your goals is the only weapon you have at your disposal to achieve them, so prepare yourself immediately for a good result.
If you have any further questions on this to further prepare you for the reopening of the gyms, take a look at the other articles on our blog and benefit from the help and guidance of our experts.

 

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