Imagine you are driving in the middle of nowhere. You are running low on petrol. When you go up hill you notice the car begins to judder and cough a little. You get back on the flat, but no sooner have you given a sigh of relief than your car starts juddering and coughing profusely until you come to a grinding halt. Damn it!
You’ve just ran out of petrol your car is not going to run for love, prayer nor money – just petrol.
Well, imagine your muscle building efforts being this car journey. Once you run out of fuel, your muscle building efforts come to a grinding halt. Only, your body is far more complex than a car, and a lack of fuel can be much more damaging.
For instance, your car isn’t going to start chewing on your nice new leather seats to sate it’s appetite before bursting back into life. But, your body will start to consume your pride and joy… (No, not your genitalia… uh, be serious)… I’m talking about your muscle mass, of course!
You see, the body has evolved to believe that fat storage is more important to survival than He-Man muscle is, so it automatically begins to consume muscle mass for energy to repair the damaged muscle tissue. And since you can’t create energy out of thin air – universal law of physics, I’m afraid – then in this situation ‘more’ muscle mass will never be created than you started with, only less.
That’s why you’ve got to re-fuel, and fast…
Every hour you spend after training without eating is another hour of muscle breakdown, and backwards progress. You’ve simply got to make refuelling and rebuilding your first priority after lifting.
Make a good dose of carbohydrates and a hefty helping of protein the order of the day, and eat it within an hour of training. Some people like to take their protein in liquid form – a whey protein shake – which is more quickly digested and used by the body than solid foods.