Ru Anderson: Busting Through the Myths on Carbohydrates

February 15, 2019

Ru Anderson is one of the top performance nutritionists in the UK and host of the High Performance Living podcast. As a performance nutritionist, Ru views his job as making people awesome! He does this via the online platform Exceed Nutrition, where he works with a broad client list, from people who want to lose a couple of pounds to professional athletes. In this episode, Josh and Ru discuss the myths of carbohydrates. There are so many conflicting views and approaches when it comes to carbs, so this podcast focuses on in-depth knowledge and debunking the common carbohydrate myths.

“I’ve heard low carb diets really work.”

Ru believes everyone can and should have carbs in their diet. Often when people want to lose body fat, the first thing they do is reduce the carbohydrates, and cut out the foods they like and want to eat. This makes dieting limiting and difficult. Ru admits he initially thought carbs made him fat but was totally wrong, and has since discovered he can have carbs and maintain his physique.

Without carbs, you are missing out on a ton of great performance and health potentials. Here are Ru’s top 5 benefits.
1) Increased metabolism.
2) Full glycogen stores (more energy).
3) Increased leptin levels (controls appetite and cravings).
4) Improved libido.
5) Increased anabolism (muscle mass and strength if you are looking to beef up).

The benefit of carbohydrates is the releasing of the hormone insulin, which drives nutrients around our blood. When you put in carbs on a regular basis, you will see an up regulation of insulin, and drive nutrients to your muscles. This will create the anabolic environment, and provide a lot of muscle growth and recovery.

“But, I need carbs to getting bigger.”

One of the key considerations before diving into nutrient timing is where it fits into your nutrition plan. The thing that will trump whether you gain muscle mass is your calories in versus calories out equation. If you only eat lettuce, you won’t put on the muscle mass you need. You can get your energy balance right by eating enough calories to support your goals and a balanced macronutrient breakdown (protein, fats, and carbohydrates).

Ru’s recommendation on protein and fat for optimizing muscle is 0.8-1 gram per pound of body weight. High protein and high carbs is your primary muscle and strength diet.

“I don’t know when the best time to hit the gym is.”

Carb cycling plans have never been Ru’s cup of tea. The foundations dictate your result, and you can dial in your carb intake to certain times of the day. Ru puts emphasis on the ‘workout window’ that focuses on performance and recovery. If you want to build muscle and strength, the key is maximizing muscle protein synthesis, which is the body’s ability to create new proteins for repair and muscle. In order to do this effectively, you need mTOR activation, which is a contraction (weight training), amino acids (protein), and insulin (carbohydrates.)

Ru recommends breaking up your carbohydrate intake over the day and base the timing around the training window (pre, during, and post workouts).

Ru’s Protocol Summary

Pre Training:
3-5 hours before workout: A balanced macronutrient food from Whole Foods, e.g. lean piece of protein, rice and fats.

30 mins- 1hr before workout: Fast acting sources, e.g. whey protein powder and a large ripe banana.

During Training:
Keep amino acids and insulin elevated throughout training with 10g of branched chain amino acid power and 10-20g of carbohydrates (simple sugars).

Post training:
1-2 hours after: A balanced macronutrient food from Whole Foods.

“I always thought carbs make you fat.”
There is a stigma around carbohydrates that they are making people fat. However, it really comes back to the foundations. If you can get a clear grasp on your goals and energy balance in terms of macronutrients breakdowns, you will find you have a lot of room for carbohydrates.

People make bad food choices when it comes to carbs. Try to find out what works for you. Oats, pasta, and breads don’t work for everyone so maybe make other food choices, such as rice. Play around with basic variables to begin with. If you eat 50-100g of carbohydrates, don’t suddenly start smashing 300g per day! As you build muscle, your body shape will change. The muscle ratio to body fat will help as you get bigger. If you are training poorly, you won’t benefit from putting more carbohydrates in your body.

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