Lyle McDonald’s – Applied Sports Nutrition – Seminar Summary

I thought I would do a bit of a summary of what I got out of Lyle’s presentation. I am going to skip over all the basic stuff because what I really want to get to the ‘take home’ material. I want to spend more time on the stuff that I really want to use.

Module 1: The Basics of Human Nutrition
I am not going to go into things in detail here because most of the stuff covered here were all the really basic foundation information on sports nutrition that you can get anywhere.

Lyle essentially covered all the basics of protein, carbohydrate and fats and their roles in nutrition and where and how you get these macronutrients in your diet. He also went over the difference between glycemic index, glycemic load as well as vitamins and minerals.

Module 2: Overall Nutritional Requirements for Athletes
I loved Lyle’s little hierarchy of nutrition pyramid….mainly because I did something similar myself previously.

I want to say something myself here…it isn’t something that Lyle said but hopefully he’ll chime in if he thinks I’m wrong. I get asked questions all the time about nutrition…and 90% of the time the questions are completely pointless. That is actually probably an under exaggeration if there is such a thing…and I’ll tell you why. People worry about all the dumb crap…they worry about creatine, they worry about ‘fat burners’, they worry about what is better…whey concentrate, whey isolate or whey hydrolysate. Yet you ask them how much protein they are getting daily…something as simple as that and they don’t have a clue. I’ll tell you what I KNOW about sports nutrition…I’ll tell you what I think is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of sports nutrition. If you are an athlete and you don’t know how much protein you are getting in your diet you’re an idiot to worry about anything else. The way that people go on about sports nutrition is absolutely retarded…it is like planning your ‘taper’ for your training in detail but just turning up everyday and doing whatever takes your fancy everyday in the gym in the 6 months leading up to your taper. It is just plain stupid. So if nothing else…get your basics right before you worry about the almost inconsequential things.

Now I’m going to go completely off track here…but it is my blog and I can do whatever I want. Two things that I really got out of the seminar were as follows:
1. One size fits all nutrition doesn’t fit anybody
2. Sports Nutrition is really as much about Sports Psychology as it is about anything else in that everyone knows the basics…it is the application that is the problem…and it sort of overlaps with the first point. In relation to myself I tend to be an ‘all or nothing’ type of person when it comes to sports nutrition and training…if I have a goal, something to train for I just sort of ‘flick a switch’ and go onto auto pilot and do it. If I don’t have a goal or something to train for…well lets just say…I don’t really ‘do’ moderation. Everyone is different and everyone needs to find a strategy that works for them…intermittent fasting works for some people not because it is the ‘answer’ but because it suits some people perfectly. I know others that need to weigh every gram of food and count every calorie…it works for them because it suits their personality. OK…I just thought of another thing I got from the seminar…
3. There is no magic…it doesn’t matter what bullshit you’ve heard…there is no magic formula…no magic supplement…no magic combination of macronutrients…if you want to lose weight you can eat less or exercise more or preferably for most people do a little of both.

Anyway back to the seminar summary.

Lyle broke down sports into 3 basic categories.
1. Strength/Power – power lifting, oly lifting and throwers.
2. Mixed Sports – field sports and games.
3. Endurance – running, cycling and swimming.

He then covered the training, adaptation responses and nutritional tendencies amongst these different categories.

I will actually come back and detail the some of the specifics…I want to cover the generalities of the seminar and if people bother reading this far and stuff that they are particularly interested in then let me know.

We covered all the macronutrient recommendations for the various categories and went into them in some detail.

In this module he also covered general supplement use as well as micronutrients and general deficiencies.

I am just looking at my notes here…so far we are 30 or so slides into what was an 83 slide seminar and the really sexy bit is the next module on around workout nutrition…unfortunately for you…but fortunately for me I have to head back to work. I will try to finish of this module this evening when I get home and then finish the rest up tomorrow in my lunch break.

Module 3: Around Workout Nutrition
This was the real nuts and bolts of what I wanted Lyle to go over as this is the stuff that was really important to me. I don’t really read research…I don’t mean to say that I don’t read research on nutrition…I don’t read ANY research. It is a philosophy that I’d recommend to a lot of trainers and coaches out there….if they read less and actually worked more they wouldn’t be so crap at their job…but that’s another story. My point is…I trust people like Lyle to read all the stuff I couldn’t be bothered reading. I want guidelines…I want stuff that I can use. I’m not saying that I take everything everyone tells me at face value…I take advice…I put it into practice and I see what works. If I was to listen to some people I’d be telling athletes to go to the Dominican Republic and getting them to eat organic food and they’d put on over 1kg of lean muscle mass a day…(don’t laugh…there’s actually a coach who expects people to believe that…although the guy is basically Canada’s answer to Tony Quinn so too much shouldn’t be expected from him but that’s another story)…I would naturally love that to be true…unfortunately it’s not. So what I rely on is people like Lyle to tell me what I ACTUALLY need to know…so here it is.

Goals of Around Workout Nutrition
1. Improve training quality.
2. Decrease fatigue.
3. Reduce muscle damage.
4. Promote optimal adaptations.
5. Improve recovery
6. Protect immune system function

Now you have to admit…these are pretty important goals when it comes to training?

I have to tell you here…Lyle did a whole bit on fatigue…which was apparently excellent…I pretty much day dreamed through it all…the bit that most interests me about fatigue is the bit where I get to induce it…if people are really interested in this let me know and I’ll actually summarise it…but I don’t think the background information on it is as important as the take home points.

Phases of Around Workout Nutrition
Phase 1 – 1 to 4 hours before workout
What you should know…the reason you are doing it is to top off liver and muscle glycogen. It shouldn’t be skipped unless you are a weight class athlete, you’re doing technical workouts (no huge nutrient requirement), or an athlete who train first thing in the morning or have insufficient time for full meal. The size of the meal depends on the size of athlete, type of sport, type of workout (volume/intensity) and the time between meal and training. Ideally it should be a mixed meal.

Phase 2 – 0 to 30 minutes before workout

What you should know…the reason you are doing it is to ensure appropriate blood glucose levels and hydration and to make sure you are ready for action some amino acids may also improve post workout adaptation. The rebound blood sugar could be a concern but waiting till the start of your warm up may blunt insulin response. Liquids at this stage are probably better than solids as they will also help with hydration. Fast acting carbs are best (dextrose, glucose, maltodextrin, sports drinks) along with some rapidly digesting proteins (whey/soy) but fats and fibre should be avoided and you can throw in some creatine for the win.

Phase 3 – During workout
I’m not going to bother with this….see my note at the end of this section.

Phase 4 – Immediately after to 1-2 hours after workouts
This is where you are looking to improve glycogen resynthesis and to initiate and improve long-term adaptations to training along with enhancing recovery in preparation for your next training session. The whole ‘post workout’ window thing is something I’ve always considered to be blown out of proportion…I’ve seen athletes go on as if their muscles would fall off if they didn’t consume their post workout shake within seconds of finishing blasting their biceps. If you are training soon after…as in later that day…it’s probably important to get something in as soon as possible. If you are training in 24 to 48 hours later…it’s probably not so important.

Let me tell you what I got out of this and what I am going to be telling athletes.
1. Have something to eat in the 4 hours before training…that could be a meal or a snack…if it is close to training…try to avoid too much fat and fibre.
2. Start drinking a carb+protein beverage when they commence training and consume it throughout training. What I am going to do is to get a sports drink, empty it into my shaker and stick a scoop of plain whey protein in it along with a teaspoon of creatine.
3. After training I am going to chug a litre of milk and another scoop of whey protein and another scoop of creatine.

Creatine is not the devil…it doesn’t give you rage issues, it doesn’t shrink you testicles, it doesn’t turn muscle to fat when you stop training. I’m not going to even bother to try to talk people around…if you don’t want to take it don’t…take a teaspoon or two a day…I can promise you…it won’t make your kidneys explode either.

Lyle went into bunch of supplements…I’m not summarising these either. Look after the basics first….99% of the athletes I work with barely do that…when they do…I’ll get into the supplements in more detail.

Module 4: Modifications for Different Goals
There are essentially three things that athletes are looking to do…improve performance at a given weight, increase their lean muscle mass or decrease their body fat.

Improving performance at a given weight

  • Generally requires a small surplus on training days to support adaptation
  • Depends on type of adaptation (e.g. neural vs. muscular)
  • Best made with around workout nutrition
  • Small surplus around training sufficient
  • Maintenance calories on non-training or light training days
  • Many athletes (e.g. lifters) train slightly above optimal weight and drop down to make weight for competition

Increasing lean muscle mass

  • Requires a surplus of calories AND building blocks
  • Can’t make muscle out of thin air and wishful thinking
  • Proper training program: sufficient volume and frequency
  • Surplus around weight training workouts
  • Actual rate of muscle mass gains is slow
    • 1 kg/month for males
    • 0.5 kg/month for females
  • 1200-2400 calories per pound muscle (300-500 cal/day surplus)
  • Calories beyond what is needed for growth will just make the athlete fa

Fat loss

  • Requires a caloric deficit
  • How much fat is the athlete carrying
    • Fatter can lose faster than leaner
  • May be better to gradually increase metabolic type work (extensive tempo, bodyweight circuits) while keeping calories static

Then there is the holy grail of body recomposition…this is where you gain muscle, lose fat and improve performance…personally…I’ve rarely seen this happen…I’ve heard stories of people gaining 26kg in under a year and doing so at 6% bodyfat but like stories of athletes having fillings removed and gaining 12kg of lean muscle in a month and of strength coaches that can train any female athlete to 12 pull ups in 12 weeks I’ve generally considered these to absolute bullshit.

What I generally do with athletes looking to make recomposition changes is to basically cycle mass gain and fat loss cycles as long as is needed.

Module 5: This was a wrap up and all other matters section

Keeping your immune system primed is important…eat well, get some probiotics and zinc and you can take glutamine and vitamin C when you feel yourself getting sick.

To make sure your bones and connective tissue are tip top…all of the above…as well as calcium, glucosamine (1500mg) and chondroitin (1200 mg)…the only thing that I actually learned in the whole seminar is that pinapple also hepls…more specifically bromelain and papain.

Also…sleep is good…it’s 2.47am…and it’s what I should actually be doing.


12 thoughts on “Lyle McDonald’s – Applied Sports Nutrition – Seminar Summary

  1. “Two things that I really got out of the seminar were as follows:”

    I counted three things. Either way, I think you know enough to become a diet guru now, Will. Point number 3 might be a bit problematic, since telling people there isn’t any magic does not make you $$$. But, that can be taken care of. Didn’t you get absoluely shredded on Guinness once? Alcohol calories doesn’t count, that’s a workable angle.

    • These are all good points. As regards being a diet guru…I’m pretty sure I know less than I should but more than some. You really need to send me some stuff on IF for me to post here on the blog.

  2. Will said

    “I want to say something myself here…it isn’t something that Lyle said but hopefully he’ll chime in if he thinks I’m wrong.”

    Nope, I could not agree more. It’s like training, people want to worry about all these details about tempo, rest intervals, all of these tiny little details and then you look at their basic program and it’s just fundamentally moronic. Or they are using shit technique. Or they don’t train with even an iota of intensity. It’s called missing the forest for the trees and is endemic in the sports nutrition world as well.

    People get fixated on all these little details, what exact second to consume their organic hydrolyzed super biopotentiated whey with waxy maize starch and you ask them the type of questions Will asked (e.g. what’s your daily protein intake, how many calories are you eating) and they can’t answer it.

    And a lot of sources of information (especailly bodybuilding magazines) tend to promote this type of thinking since most of the detail stuff is ‘supplement stuff’. They don’t make money telling athletes to eat food, get plenty of vegetables, etc. They do by making beginners think that they need 15 different magic pills or there’s no point in training.

    Like everything else, getting the basics right is most of the battle. Worry about the details AFTER you have the basics taken care of.

    So yeah, I agree 100% with Will. I’d give him 110% but that’s impossible.


    • It is in edit mode right now. I’ve a conference call that I have to be on at 6am so I am going to finish the seminar summary first, then answer the questions in my ‘to do list’, then I’ve a post to make on training, then I’ve a bunch of programs to write…if I get all that done before the conference call I’ll be happy…then I will sleep from 10am till 1pm then get up and go to work where I’ll be from 2pm till 10pm. So why don’t you just let me get on with it?

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