The live chat was a great success, offering our loyal Facebook fans a valuable opportunity to gain some top quality nutrition and training advice from one of the leading experts in the country. Below is the full transcript of the Q&A Session which we are sure you will find an interesting read.
For further advice you can ĎLikeí Martin on his Facebook page, and also follow him on Twitter.
Q. Simon Louis Roshdy: Hi Martin, as a swimming coach and a PT, Iíve always thought my swimmers should lift but with constant training, would you say it is necessary and how would you suggest implementing lifting to benefit swimming?
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Simon, Martin here. From knowledge of what a lot of the top swimmers do I'd certainly recommend trying to get some resistance based work within the weekly training schedule. This is obviously something that needs to be balanced with other training loads. As the coach I'm assuming you could change the schedule to incorporate this. Injury prevention is a huge benefit of resistance work to complement the repetitive nature of swimming. Then obviously you get the benefits of land based work on a number of performance measures, not to mention health (bone etc). Has that answered your question? Feel free to follow up with anything specific.
Q. Max Power: Hi Martin, what are your supplements of choice? Specifically the ones which have the best bang for their buck? Also, could you detail how a strength athleteís diet would differ from a bodybuilderís and if there's any difference in supplementation with either? Much appreciated.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Max Power - Good question! The first part... 'bang for buck' supplements depends on goals really. My first port of call is always Omega 3 fish oil and Vitamin D, simply because most lifters, athletes and general population individuals can benefit from them. In terms of performance without a doubt Creatine, Caffeine and Beta Alanine (as well as sodium bicarbonate) are high up on the list. These have to be used in the correct situations but for their respective benefits, these supplements have the most research behind them showing ergogenic effects. Let me know if you want more detail on any of that.
With regards to strength athlete vs bodybuilder, I actually term bodybuilders as 'strength' athletes. On the continuum of energy systems used and components of fitness, a bodybuilder is similar to a powerlifter or weightlifter even though the 'performance' itself is very different. For this reason, the diets can be very similar for the most part. The major difference would be the competition prep for a bodybuilder where 'performance' or strength is not of prime importance and instead simply retaining muscle and getting as lean as is humanly possible is the sole goal. With regards to supplementation, this will be similar however, with regards to supplementation, beta alanine might have less of a role for a weightlifter/powerlifter due to the type of training used. Bodybuilders who tend to use higher reps (>6ish) and shorter rest periods will benefit from beta alanine more than a powerlifter/weightlifter would.
Q. Lewis Haigh: Hello Martin, I'm a type one diabetic using a pump control. How many grams of carbs would you say causes an insulin spike big enough to trigger fat storage?
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Lewis Haigh! Wow, what a question! In your instance I'm assuming the amount of insulin released is controlled by you in bolus doses based on the meal you just ate? In any case, fat storage is a somewhat minute by minute process. Eating a huge meal will cause a transient 'gain' of fat (triglycerides) into cells. Whether this gain is in muscle or adipose tissue depends on a number of factors. The real issue is over a period, say 24hours, has there been a net synthesis or net loss of triglycerides from adipose tissue. Every time you eat carbohydrate you release insulin and fat oxidation is blunted. What is the smallest dose of carbohydrate for it not to affect this? I can't honestly say I know but my guess is that itís pretty small. Sorry to not give you a magic number, I hope it is of some help.
Q. Stephen Donaghy: Hi Martin, Thanks for giving up your time. It's good to hear from a proper person instead of generic info on a website. I am currently training 5-6 days a week with a combination of 2 x 5k runs, 2 x 2.5k runs + 4 x split weight training. I am using L-Carnitine, Zinc, Vit B6, 3 x Impact Whey Protein per day and eating healthily, usually about 2k calories with all my carbs being before 4pm. Any sites that I've checked have recommended about 2800-3200 calories but I am trying to reduce body fat and I am really struggling getting it below 15%. I currently weigh about 170lbs. Any supplements you can suggest for taking it up a notch? Cheers Stevie
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Stephen Donaghy - no problem at all! Itís quite fun actually! I'm just going to throw this out there, I'm not claiming it is based on any scientific paper but in the last 2 years I've worked with a LOT of endurance athletes from runners, triathletes and ironman competitors and something I am seeing a lot is that when they REDUCE their training load they have a much easier time of losing body fat. Sounds crazy but it is likely a combination of over-training/under-eating and the hormonal impacts this has. If you're using L-Carnitine you need to take it with carbohydrate... potentially a LOT of carbohydrate. I would use it in your post training recovery drink/snack e.g. whey + maltodextrin + carnitine + etc. If you have another big carb meal, put some in there too. Aim for 2 x 1g per day. No need to keep carbs before 4pm. Put your carbs around training as much as possible... however if you only train in the mornings then by all means have protein + fat + veg meals in the evening. You could try using Thermopure or MP Max Thermo-Extreme 60mins before training sessions, especially your runs! Are you eating enough fat and protein? No eating enough fat can actually reduce your ability to burn fat i.e. your RER goes up to a more carbohydrate burning figure.
Q. Alex Terry: Hey Martin, Iím an aspiring bodybuilder and rugby player. I play rugby for Heaton Moor RUFC yet Iím also training to gain muscle. Iíve noticed since we've started pre-season that my running has been affected and the more mass I gain, the more my endurance decreases. Can you help me find a happy medium so I can increase endurance and get faster while still gaining weight?
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Alex Terry - I have seen this many a time. The issue here is not that you are 'too heavy to run' as I often hear but is more to do with the type of training being done. If you have an 'off-season' where you stop running, stop doing any power work and simply train for hypertrophy then you will gain weight and very often it won't necessarily be functional weight. However, this does not mean you can't get bigger and still be fast with great endurance! Look at the pros! The thing that you need to do is to learn how to eat enough to gain weight/muscle whilst at the same time keeping your running going. It is probably a good idea to emphasise strength work, especially lower body, in your training which will not only increase muscle size but also strength. Think heavy squats as opposed to or on top of leg extensions and deadlifts instead of hamstring curls and back extensions etc.
Q. Alex Terry: Cheers Martin. What would you suggest to improve my running endurance and speed? Iíll switch to some strength training, cheers man.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: No worries. Strongman training and sprint interval training is great for speed, endurance and power. Just don't do long slow plods! Replicate games. Do 4 minute small sided games for fitness and acceleration and do strength and speed work in the gym to build power. You might need to go outside for the speed work unless you have a sprint corridor in the gym.
Q. Alex Terry: Wow thanks for the help Martin. Third and final question, what strength program would you suggest and will it also help me pack on mass?
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: There isn't really one strength program I'd suggest really. So long as you're getting stronger and keeping your volume up you should build muscle size. The key is to find a level of training in terms of number of exercises, sets and reps and the number of times you train that movement per week that allows you to grow and get stronger whilst concurrently doing speed/running work. A lot of players will do things like squats followed by short sprints or jumps to increase the carry over between the two.
Q. Michael Tippa Welsh: Martin, can you tell me the best way to tighten up excess skin around your belly as I've got a six pack but need to sort out my stretched skin as I used to be a lot bigger as a kid. And should I be eating oats and taking creatine monohydrate when I'm try to cut up? Thanks.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Michael Tippa Welsh - First off, nothing wrong with oats and creatine mono whilst trying to cut up! :-) The oats simply need to be worked into the rest of your diet and the creatine will actually HELP during a cut! Tightening up excess skin around your belly is not something I can claim to know a lot about. I did actually see a quite detailed thread on the MP forum a while back on this subject. One of the moderators posted a protocol to help restore the collagen in skin. One thing I have found is that people who use very low fat diets to lose weight have a much worse time with excess skin than those who eat adequate fat, perhaps due to the important role that lipids play in skin cells.
Q. Paul Marsh: Hey Martin, as a Lacto-vegetarian I have found it hard of late to lose those last few pounds of body fat. My aim is to get to around 4-6%. Iím not competing or anything like that and understand that itís not very practical or easy to maintain such a low level itís just a personal challenge to see if I can do it. Ideally I would like to sit around the 6% mark. I lift 4-5 times/week and currently am around 79kg and 7-7.5% BF. Do you have any diet advice for someone with my restrictions on how to lose those last few pounds? I try not to do too much cardio as my face always ends up very gaunt. Thanks in advance.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Paul Marsh, Wow, 7% is an achievement in itself! Good work! How are you measuring BF%?
Itís hard to give any advice without knowing what you've done to get to the level you're at. I'm assuming you're currently using creatine, beta alanine, protein supplements and possibly a caffeine based fat burner? Are you managing to get your protein up to the realm of 2-2.5g/kg bodyweight? Carb cycling or intermittent fasting are the first two things that spring to mind. When I was in that range of body fat I never did any sort of intermittent fasting however anecdotally people seem to be able to sit at lower %BF by using it. Carb cycling is a standard bodybuilding practise and is what I used when I got pretty lean.
I also used some sprint training to increase my energy output on top of regular training. Because of the slight restrictions you have put on yourself it may be a good idea to get some blood profiles to see if there is anything that needs correcting.
Q. Wayne DeBoer: Hey Martin, What would you say is the best way to gain weight? I am 5'11 currently weighing 72kg in the skinny fat cat. Ideally I want to weigh about 80/82kg. I am currently eating around 3000 - 3500 calories and getting around 150g of protein a day. Any help would be appreciated.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Wayne DeBoer! Can I get a bit of clarification before I answer? When you say 'what is the best way' what are you really asking? The simple answer is 'eat more' but I'd like to give you something a bit more than that!! Also don't want to waffle on and tell you stuff you already know. Are you struggling to eat enough? Are you just not sure what to eat more of? Let me know and I'll try give you a golden answer! :-)
Q. myprotein.co.uk: Wayne, some people do struggle to ingest enough calories to gain the desired weight. Mac-Nutrition Online Community can you maybe advise some tips for adding in good extra calories to meals without making it feel like Wayne's eating for five? Peanut/almond butter, full fat milk etc. MP
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi myprotein.co.uk and Wayne - totally agree! I'm one of those people who doesn't have the worldís best appetite! I simply couldn't get the volume of food I need to grow in 3 meals like some of the IFers do. This is an interesting one though, it somewhat depends on the individual. Some of my athletes/clients seem to become satiated by fat very efficiently. One of my methods has been to add almond butter and olive oil to an Impact Whey + Ultra Fine Oats + Whole Milk shake. This increases the calories massively. However, some people find this fills them up too much! Instead, they simply need to increase the quantity of oats as these fill them up less, potentially due to different expression of receptors in their body (GLP-1 etc). Liquid calories are often the easiest thing to get down you though. Increasing the amount of maltodextrin/dextrose in your post training shake can help. Sipping Exceed + added maltodextrin during training is another one.
Q. Mitch Lee: What is your opinion on Intermittent Fasting? Is it a fad or will it be around for a long time? I can't rate it more highly, especially for cutting.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Mitch Lee! In my personal opinion it will be around for a while.... decades I think. We had the Ďeat 7 small mealsí mantra and it was around for a couple of decades, now itís the new 'era'. I can't see into the future but who knows what a new study will publish in the future. The fact is, we still don't know the exact best number of meals but what we do know is that fasting doesn't cause instant muscle loss! There may be a golden figure of meal frequency. In my opinion I think a single meal is too little for optimal muscle gain but for fat loss, who knows? I've used it for many years on and off and generally 'live' by it even when not aiming to change my bodyweight or BF%.
Q. Rik Laird: Hello Martin, I'm an extremely active 44 year old, cycling, mountain biking, climbing, hiking, running, gym circuits etc. I have recently broken my tibia and fibula snowboarding. I'm due out of plaster on the 2nd August. What are the best supplements to speed up my recovery whilst in and out of plaster? Thanks in advance ĖRik
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Rik Laird - Wow! Hope I'm that active when I'm 44! If you're in plaster now definitely keep or start taking creatine! It has been shown to reduce muscle loss whilst limbs are immobilised. Also, aim to keep your protein intake up during this time despite perhaps doing less training as again this will do the same thing. With regards to bone, the obvious micronutrients to keep an eye on are Calcium, Zinc and Vitamin D. Potentially, you can throw magnesium in with these three as the top four most important nutrients. Vitamin D is very hard to get from your diet and if you live in the UK, it is hard to get from the sun! For that reason it would be the first port of call for supplementation.
Q. Matt Crombie: Hi Martin. Is there an optimum time to be eating red meats (and the fats that go with them) to make the best use of absorbing the nutrients on my 'bulking diet'? FYI I train with weights in the evening after work around 6pm.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Matt Crombie - In short... not really. The nutrients in red meat are in forms that are readily available to the human body so whenever you eat them they are going to be of benefit. If you are training at 6pm it would seem appropriate to eat the red meat at dinner for a decent hit of slow digesting protein, some iron, zinc and a range of fatty acids for hormone production. Saying that, eating it at another time will still provide all of the same things! Main thing is to make sure you're eating enough of it!
Q. Mark Milsted: Hi Martin, at present on weight training days (alternate days) I am consuming carbs with breakfast, PWO (about 1pm) and evening meal (6-8pm). On the days in between I perform 20min of steady state cardio (rowing) fasted at midday but consume BCAAs upon waking and again pre-rowing. My PWO shake does contain carbs but then I consume no more carbs for the remainder of the day. I am still increasing all lifts but am tempted to drop the carbs with an evening meal on weights days in an attempt to shift body fat faster. Will I be jeopardising my gains in the gym if I do this? Thanks
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Mark Milsted - What you're doing sounds great! I assume you're fasting all morning on 'non training days' then doing your rowing at midday? You won't necessarily jeopardise gains in the gym by dropping carbs from your last meal on training days so long as you're fuelling properly closer to training. Overall carbs and overall energy is going to be the biggest factor in your ability to train at high intensity and to recover. If by dropping the evening carbs you drop into such a calorie deficit that it affects training then it may not be the absence of carbs, just the absence of adequate energy for hormone production and recovery. If there is any time to reduce carbs it is away from training though... So in short, sounds like a good idea... if training is hindered, add them back in and just be more patient. Haha
Q. Luca Italiano: Martin, What is the best time to take a weight gainer? Thank you.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Luca Italiano - The best time to take a weight gainer depends on the weight gainer you are using. If you're using a higher sugar type weight gainer it is best taken around training, if you're using a weight gainer that contains oats, whey, flax etc then adding milk to it then you could take this anytime really! Overall daily energy intake is what will govern the results but bunching energy around training to some extent is always a good idea.
Q. Rich Lush: Hi Martin. I, like probably a lot of other people out there, don't have much time when I go to the gym. I want to retain and even slightly increase muscle but most importantly burn fat!
Do you have any suggestions on high impact regimes that may be worth following which will incorporate the above for those who don't have much time per week available at the gym?
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Rich Lush - awesome question! Bang for buck training! To be honest, I'm a little out of touch with the specific names of current pop-training routines but it all comes down to fitting in adequate training volume and load to achieve those goals. Diet is going to be the most important factor with regards to retaining muscle mass and losing body fat. Increasing muscle mass whilst losing body fat is going to reduce the speed with which you can lose BF and is also unlikely to last indefinitely but I'm sure you'd find some that would disagree with that. Using supersets to get more work done in a shorter time is something I have used to great effect with both clients and myself. Working opposing muscle groups back to back means you can keep the loads heavier whilst also getting a lot of work done in the gym in a short space of time. Full body workouts shouldn't be dismissed either. They're not generally popular with the bodybuilding fraternity but are an effective way of retaining muscle by stimulating muscle frequently and also leave space for other metabolic work which will reduce BF%. Hope that helps somewhat!
Q. Daniel Delderfield: Hi Martin. Are there certain types of food which can help improve running speed? Jamaican sprinters such as Bolt obviously have the genes and training is another factor for speed but I was wondering if certain diets can help improve body function and appearance for speed? (not including Creatine)
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Daniel Delderfield - To be quite frank, not really. Not if we are talking about top speed. Caffeine and Sodium Bicarbonate can increase speed over certain distances but that is more to do with delaying fatigue really... you could argue that caffeine aids in power production on a cycle ergometer and that is 'increasing speed' but nutrition as a whole benefits speed training/recovery from it but doesn't directly influence speed. Itís why Bolt can eat chicken nuggets and break WRs.
Q. Darren Anthony Stoddart: Hi Martin, have you read this study about fish oil supplementation? If so what are your thoughts? http://suppversity.blogspot.co.uk/20...increased.html Also some people have asked about IF but I am interested to hear your thoughts on ĎCarb Backloadingí and in particular the idea that eating higher GI 'dirtier' carb sources PWO is actually preferred to cleaner carb sources that are often recommended such as oats and quinoa. Thanks.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Iíve not read that study, however I am aware of the excess EPA+DHA and fish oil oxidation concept. I know people like Charles Poliquin have recommended upwards of 40g of fish oil per day but Iíve never seen evidence for it. I know others use 1g per % BF but again Iíve not seen anything to suggest this is appropriate. I tend to use fish oil supplementation to correct n6 intake as well as potentially increase fat loss potential. I tend to use in the region of 1.5-2g of total EPA+DHA with clients.
With regards to carb backloading I havenít ever seen evidence that higher GI carbs are necessarily Ďbetterí than other carb sources for the purposes of physique enhancement. Iím assuming thatís what youíre asking for? The only instance where high GI carbs are entirely necessary is when glycogen repletion is of utmost importance within a 24hour period. Post training is certainly the time when higher GI carbs should go if they are to be consumed. Realistically the main point is to get insulin levels up but you need very little carbohydrate or even protein to do this. Presently there is no evidence for a benefit of a huge insulin spike over a smaller one however anecdotally those who use exogenous insulin get greater gains in muscle. On a practical level, I still often use carbohydrate powders such as dextrose and maltodextrin both myself and with clients just go help to bunch carbs and calories around training.
Q. Henri Valentino-Sanders: Hi Martin. I've read a few of your blogs regarding the consumption of saturated fat and how it shouldn't be avoided. My questions are: What foods have a good source of saturated fat? What would be an ideal amount to consume each day and are there any side effects associated with consuming too much or too little?
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Henry, youíve started with the right question! Itís always risky when people start thinking only in macronutrients or their constituents! Foods that are commonly known for their saturated fat content are eggs, red meat (fatty parts), cheese, lard, olive oil, butter, coconut oil etc. The issue with diets that try to restrict the consumption of fat or saturated fat is that they end up restricting the intake of these excellent sources of protein, vitamins and minerals!
A diet consisting of a high amount of saturated fat coupled with a lot of sugar and minimal exercise is possibly worse than one that contains less saturated fat and the same amount of sugar; that is however debatable. There is unlikely an Ďidealí intake of saturated fat and so long as your diet doesnít emphasise only one type of fat then youíll be doing just OK. Iíll be writing some more in-depth stuff on this in the future so keep an eye out for it.
Q. Gareth Moore: I am training for lean muscle gains. I do two strength sessions a week, two cardio based sessions and one crossfit session. What is a typical daily diet I should be working towards? i.e. how many meals, and containing what quantities of protein, carbs and fat etc.
My body fat is currently around 16%. Iím in fairly good shape but still need to tone up a lot and burn fat from my stomach area.
Thank you in advance.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Gareth, meal frequency is not really an exact science but more of a personal preference. I generally like to use no less than 3 feeding points on training days with clients but will sometimes go lower on non-training days if that suits them better. As often as possible I would recommend getting the majority of your energy intake and carbohydrate post-training. I think people are calling this Ďcarb backloadingí these days and itís something I know the intermittent fasting crowd also tend to do. Iíve found this is superior for both athletes and physique enthusiasts such as yourself. With regards to intakes of protein, carbs and fats read this article, which explains it all: http://www.mac-nutrition.com/dieting...t-percentages/
Q. Kad Arshad: Hi. It's the Islamic holy month of Ramadan coming up soon where we will be fasting from 4am till 9pm with no food or drink between those times. I will eat at 9pm when the fast opens and then again at 3am. What would you recommend I eat and take so I don't lose too much muscle?
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Kad, there is some great research surrounding Ramadan! I tweeted a recent study recently on Resistance training and Ramadan recently: https://twitter.com/MacNutrition/sta...32445801807874
What you need to bear in mind is that even with the long fasts, it doesnít mean you have license to eat junk. Another recently study showed a worsening of blood glucose profiles with fasting which was likely due to poorer food choices than an effect of the fast. What you need to do is quite easy. In two meals you need to get all your kcals and your protein requirements. If youíre 70kg you need to eat 60-70g or protein per meal (if youíre having 2). Then you need to ensure your total kcals are not dropping way down, however this shouldnít be hard. 1000-1500kcals per meal should suffice, just make sure it is coming from clean-ish sources of carbohydrate and fat and try to get some variety in there so that you are covering your micronutrient intakes.
Q. Adam West: How much of an insulin spike does sweetener cause and would it be enough to slow fat loss potential? I ask in reference to whether a black coffee before AM fasted cardio should be without sweetener, or is the potential for an insulin spike not worth worrying about? What are the best tips for combating hunger while on a restricted diet? Any supps?
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Adam, Iím actually in the process of writing an article on this. There are actually differing effects based on the sweetener you use however the short answer is that it will not be enough to slow fat loss. Whether or not it is healthy is another story. Hereís one study showing no insulin response from aspartame: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2923074
Combatting hunger is a very individual thing. Some people respond well to differing macronutrient ratios i.e. insulin/carbohydrate seem to satiate them well. For others, fat is more satiating perhaps by greater expression of GLP-1 in the intestine. Then there is the obvious method of filling up on high fibre vegetables, which can end up making up your entire carbohydrate intake. Personally I find using a lower meal frequency with larger meals allows me to manage my hunger much better.
Q. Jason Law: How effective is the method of taking sugars directly after workout followed by protein 15 mins later in order to manipulate an insulin spike? Currently I take a mixture of waxy maize starch, dextrose and creatine post-workout followed by Impact Whey 15 mins later.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: To be honest, I would never advise this as a superior way of Ďmanipulating an insulin spikeí. Itís much of a muchness really. Possibly hype created surrounding high molecular weight carbohydrate sources.
Q. Matt Crombie: Hi Martin. Would you agree with the macro split of 40 : 30 : 30 (carbs : protein : fat) for someone (a bodybuilder) looking to gain weight in their off-season? Or would you recommend something such a 2g of carbs and protein per lb of bodyweight with 0.5g of fat per lb of bodyweight?
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Matt, I tend to work with relative intakes i.e. g/kg rather than percentages. Protein intakes are generally around the 2g/kg mark, carbohydrates fluctuating based on training volume and then fats making up the remainder of energy intake. I will use percentages for fat to ensure it doesnít go too low i.e. never less than 30% of their maintenance kcals on a non-training day. The ratio or amounts of carbs and fats are really based on the individual. There are no definitive figures. I generally wouldnít go less than 1g/kg carbohydrate as a general rule for someone who is training with physique goals in mind.
Q. Trevor Ewart: Hi Martin I am curious as being a type 1 diabetic, how much protein is safe to take on a daily basis. I am 33 with excellent blood sugar control but I am trying to bulk on muscle hence the use of protein. Dieticians and doctors are giving me different answers as to if it is safe or not to increase the level of protein intake. Thanks, Trevor.
A. Mac-Nutrition Online Community: Hi Trevor, there is no issue with you increasing your protein intake, however bear in mind there is no need to go crazy. Aiming for around 2g/kg would be sufficient so 160g for an 80kg guy. Doctors will generally tell you this is fine, as they tend to be very straight down the line/logical. Dieticians tend to tread too carefully sometimes and also buy into the scaremongering against protein et al. The only thing you need to bear in mind is your kidney function. If you have no issues then an increased protein intake is no issue but if you have kidney issues related to your diabetes then you need to be more careful. If you have Ďexcellent blood sugar controlí then it is likely you are doing everything you need to, to minimise your risk of kidney issues. Hope that helps.