Net Gains: Late Night Eating, Fiber and Kitchenless Eating

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Question: I eat like a champ from midnight to 2 am, and then go to bed an hour after that. How bad is it for me to eat so much food late at night?

Answer: If you're trying to put on mass and you're content that this strategy isn't adding more bodyfat than you want, then eat away. One of the basic rules for adding muscle mass is that you have to take in more quality calories than you're burning. If you aren't able to take in those nutrients earlier in the day, then you aren't going to grow. It's a matter of priorities.

Although some experts have suggested that late-night carb consumption will result in more fat gain than when carbs are eaten earlier in the day, the idea is unproven. Eating big to get big is still priority number one. (To monitor fat gain, use a mirror and your waist measurement; gaining an inch around the middle is equivalent to about 41/2 pounds of bodyfat.)

Q: When I take my fiber supplement, I also mix in creatine and glutamine. Is this OK, or will the fiber block absorption?

A: There is no scientific data to suggest that fiber will block the absorption of creatine or glutamine. If it's a matter of convenience, go ahead and mix those supplements together.

However, when you take glutamine and creatine in a postworkout drink, remember that the purpose is to deliver those nutrients to your muscles as quickly as possible. Adding fiber to your postworkout cocktail will slow down digestion, so it would be better to supplement with fiber at another time.

Q: I want to go on a nutritional program, but I work at a construction site and there's no microwave. Is there any plan I can follow that doesn't involve heating food?

A: Yes. Prepare foods that don't need to be heated or reheated and are easy to carry, such as chicken or peanut-butter sandwiches, boiled eggs, low-fat cheese and canned tuna. Bring a shaker and your favorite meal replacement product.

Outdoor cooking equipment can also be useful. Diced chicken breast, onions and potato slices are easy to cook with a portable gas stove or a Bunsen burner, and these are widely available at scout shops and wilderness supply stores.

The ingredients can go in an ice chest in your trunk. It may sound like a lot of work, but serious bodybuilders frequently put this level of planning and effort into their nutrition programs.

Q: When is the best time for a bodybuilder to consume antioxidants? Before or after a workout? With food? Before bed?

A: Timing is probably overrated for antioxidants, because the most important thing is to consistently get enough of them. In fact, once a day is sufficient for most antioxidants, although some researchers suggest taking water-soluble antioxidants, such as vitamin C, twice a day.

The best practice is to take supplemental antioxidants after a meal, as this will enhance the absorption of the nutrients. Taking a combination of 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E, 250 milligrams of vitamin C and 5,000 IU of vitamin A (as alpha- and beta-carotene) is likely to reduce free-radical damage to your muscles after a hardcore bodybuilding workout.

Avoid taking megadoses, as these are not the only important antioxidants in your diet. Lycopene, sulphoraphane and a host of other antioxidants from fruits and vegetables are equally useful to bodybuilders. The most important practice is to eat the ideal dose of at least five - and preferably eight to 10 - servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

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