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Post Workout Force Feeding

by Ron J. Clark President , NFPT -

Much attention has been given to the topic of carbohydrate replacement following exhaustive resistance exercise. Rest assured there is no controversy here-or at least not anymore. I may be giving away my age, but do you remember when post-workout food selection was questionable? Arnold himself has often spoke of eating huge steaks immediately after his workouts early on in his bodybuilding career, which has since been found to be physiologically incorrect. Back then, on the surface, the need for immediate protein ingestion after a heavy training bout probably seemed to make a lot of sense. In Arnold's defense, bodybuilding was then in its infancy, and because of the economic principle of supply and demand, there was no real money invested in the performance of research in the area of bodybuilding nutrition. This has since changed. Due to the steadily increased popularity of the iron game, there are now millions of dollars being spent in researching bodybuilding nutrition & supplements!

In these earlier days, however, before nutritional research was in full swing, the iron game was, for the most part, a guessing game! Do you believe, as I do, that some of the world's greatest discoveries were stumbled upon completely by accident? Back then, whatever the winner did must have been right, and what the loser did must have been wrong. Plain and simple.

For a time, this hit-or-miss principle applied to other areas of athletics as well. For example, cyclists and other endurance athletes have been ingesting carbohydrate based drinks during the performance of their respective events for years successfully, probably because someone in the past accidentally did it, and it worked. Ask one of these cyclists exactly why the timely intake of these carbohydrates is beneficial, and of the many quite logical responses you will get, the true answer will escape them every time. The very answer that escapes them, is the topic of this chapter! You may be asking yourself, "So what? What if they don't know exactly how it works? As long as it works, the reasons shouldn't matter?!" This way of thinking, has in the past, slowed the advancement of athletic performance in all sports. The truth of the matter is, that the more timely research into the exact reasons why this "carbohydrate ingestion during activity" worked for the endurance athlete, could have led to the earlier discovery of its positive effect on ALL athletes and resistance trainees. The practice of carb ingestion during post-resistance workout activity offers an extremely functional method of minimizing the duration of catabolism by "forcing" post-workout carb replacement on the muscles! But more on that later.

The primary reason why the ingestion of carbohydrates during activity by endurance athletes can productively be applied to those performing resistance exercises, is because all athletes share a common denominator...the basic human anatomy. While various forms of exercise have distinct differences in the demands they impose upon the body, the energy pathways during recovery from exercise remain the same.

Getting back to the resistance trainee. To my best recollection, it was Mike Mentzer who first ushered in the practice of eating post-workout carbohydrates. ICE CREAM, as I recall, contained the carbohydrates of his choice. In discussing the use of objectivity in the area of bodybuilding nutrition, Mike Mentzer comes to mind as one of the first to take a more learned approach. Mentzer's post-workout "carbohydrate loading" sermons were at first met with indifference in the bodybuilding community. It wasn't long, however, before this "methodology" was upheld time and time again through various studies. Mentzer's once controversial carbohydrate replacement theory, has today evolved into a cornerstone of the very foundation of productive resistance training & nutrition.

The "force-feeding" principle effectively enhances the value of post-workout carb loading by including the performance of activity simultaneous to "simple carbohydrate" ingestion. The performance of this activity discourages Insulin from taking glucose to fat cells. Since we know fat cells generally mobilize fat during activity, and they cannot store Insulin-carried glucose & release fat at the same time, the Insulin has nowhere else to take the majority of this new glucose during the performance of this exercise, but to the energy depleted muscle tissues. Hence, "force-feeding". The application of "force-feeding" has appeared quite successful among resistance athletes in every instance to the best of my knowledge and research. The following is a brief summary of the concept of "force-feeding".

An abundant amount of Insulin releasing simple sugar should be ingested immediately following a muscle glycogen depleting resistance training session. Simultaneously perform post-workout low intensity aerobic activity. This will accelerate the insulin-carried glucose uptake in the badly depleted muscles (recovery), with minimal insulin-carried glucose being deposited in adipose tissues (fat cells). A minimal uptake and storage of this abundant insulin-carried blood glucose into adipose tissue during force-feeding is assured as a direct result of the catabolic effect of the applied exercise on adipose tissues (adipose tissue is predisposed to release usable energy substrates, fatty acids & glycerol during exercise in the presence of catabolic hormones & enzymes). This leaves Insulin only one place to take its glucose... directly to glycogen depleted muscle tissues! This carb-loading will even be more rapid than normal since Insulin must remove overabundant blood glucose quickly.

With this understanding, it is no wonder why endurance athletes experience increased energy levels by ingesting carbohydrates during activity. These newly ingested carbs are being driven directly into the muscle, along with considerable fluids as well preventing heat injuries, dehydration, and consequent muscle cramping!

Use this "FORCE FEEDING" concept to accelerate carbohydrate replacement before you even leave the gym! Here's how you do it...


After your intense and exhaustive resistance training workout, hop on a stairmaster, exercise bike, or choose any one of a hundred other aerobic activities. Break out some nutritious form of SIMPLE SUGAR (fruit juices, honey, etc.). Immediately ingest anywhere from 100 to 500 calories of this simple sugar. The actual number of these calories should be determined based on two variables. #1- How energy exhaustive your training session was, and #2- the length of time you plan on performing the "low to moderate intensity" post-workout aerobic activity! Keep in mind that the circulatory system has an average capacity to maintain 80 calories of glucose before "spilling over", and that it will take at least 5 to 7 minutes before the ingested simple sugar even reaches the bloodstream. Take these factors into consideration when applying the FORCE-FEEDING concept.

As with the cyclist, as long as you are performing activity, the bulk of ingested sugar will be driven into recovering and working muscle tissues! I would suggest you experiment somewhat in determining the right exercise duration and number of calories ingested. When properly applied, you should experience a more "full" feeling upon completion of this post-workout activity. The reason for this sensation, as you are probably aware, is due to the enormous amount of water that accompanies Insulin-carried blood glucose into recovering muscles.

It is a fact that catabolism (break down of muscle tissue), initiated during the workout, typically continues for some time after training until sufficient recovery energy (blood glucose) is provided from outside the muscles. Once this "outside help" is provided, damaged muscles will stop eating away at themselves for energy. The FORCE-FEEDING concept directly addresses this issue, thus accelerating recovery from training!

Used properly, this "FORCE-FEEDING" concept will dramatically minimize the duration of post-workout catabolism "naturally", and more rapidly initiate anabolism (muscle tissue growth)! These principles have been theorized and researched independently by the National Federation of Professional Trainers and found sufficiently effective to warrant publication. While this practice is proven quite safe and free from health risk, I feel obligated to state that it is meant to safely be applied by APPARENTLY HEALTHY INDIVIDUALS ONLY. As mentioned earlier, those diabetics, insulin dependent or otherwise, are advised to take appropriate measures in this concept's application, given their own familiarity with their specific health concerns. As stated earlier, since the first and quite recent publication of this "FORCE-FEEDING" concept, there have already been reports of its effectiveness in practical application.

The questionable role of Insulin in "Force-Feeding"

Insulin cannot intelligently decide the destination of the glucose it carries. Its function is simply to remove overabundant glucose from the blood. For our purposes, there are two storage locations where Insulin can deposit its glucose. The muscle cells and the fat cells. The argument has arisen that since the presence of Insulin inhibits lypolisis (mobilization of fatty acids & glycerol from adipose tissues), that the exercise performed in force-feeding may not totally prevent the abundance of Insulin from depositing at least some glucose in these fat cells since the post-workout aerobic activity is not long in its duration and steady state. Even if this argument is valid (while unresearched to the best of my knowledge), the bottom line is this. The purpose of "force-feeding" is to shorten the duration of catabolic metabolism, and to more quickly initiate the anabolic (recovery & growth) process. Even if this incredible achievement can only be accomplished at the cost of some insignificant amount of temporary fat calorie storage, it will certainly be worthwhile in accelerating the recovery process between resistance training workouts.

This "FORCE-FEEDING" principle represents yet another contribution to resistance athletes, made on the part of the National Federation of Professional Trainers. Good luck with its application, and on behalf of the NFPT, we sincerely wish you greater gains!

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