An Interview With John Meadows - Mountain Dog Style!

In an industry where there’s a conflicting theory on each and every corner it’s refreshing to get an insight from someone who has walked the walk as well as talked the talked for over two decades. For all the theory available it is much harder to find genuine experience and in turn wisdom. Fortunately, today’s guest has both in abundance and along with that has a lot of scientific knowledge and theory to reinforce his viewpoints. I would like to welcome John Meadows, one of the best amateur bodybuilders in the world (if not the best!!), a very well-known coach and founder of the MountainDog training and nutrition principles.

John, let’s start with nutrition. Just how important is it for a beginner focussing on muscle mass or fat loss?

It’s absolutely imperative! Whatever the goal, whether they are a total beginner or an experienced trainer you cannot afford to under value good nutrition.

Can you outline to us some of your fundamental beliefs on nutrition please?

Of course.

1 – I believe that the pre and post workout windows represent an opportunity to utilise specific nutrients to optimise the workout. The most powerful time though is actually intraworkout. After all, we want to make sure we get as much from our workouts as possible. Nutrient timing and the correct application of this is the key! Typically before I train (and my clients) I will take on a small amount of starchy carbs with protein and a little fat. Fat slows down the rate at which glucose goes into the blood stream, in turn preventing a huge ‘’insulin dump’’ which in turn causes a crash and you to go hypoglycemic.  You have to play with the timing of this meal. Eat it too far out and you will be hungry headed into the session. Eat it to close and you might have more food sitting in your gut then you like. I do like to have some food in you though, even though we are going to do a drink intra. If you are really hungry it will distract you from your training.

During the workout I want to encourage an insulin spike in order to prevent muscle protein breakdown and also provide a surge in free amino acid levels which will spike muscle protein synthesis. A glucose transporter known as Glute-4 (a carrier protein) is up regulated as blood sugar levels increase and also in another way  independent of insulin just due to mechanical tension being applied to the muscles (assuming you are using reasonably heavy weight and sufficient reps). As a result it is easier to force more nutrients into the cell (where we need them to go) which is why I want carbohydrates present here in abundance to stimulate such a reaction. From what I have seen over the years, not all carbs do the same job here, and glycemic index is not as important as I initially thought. What matters more is that it is low osmalarity and high molecular weight meaning it will clear your stomach FAST, get into your small intestine and boom into your blood. Also, all proteins are not created equal to achieve this affect. They must be hydrolyzed so that they also rapidly enter the bloodstream. Hydrolyzed just means that a chemical process has taken place to break these proteins down into their constituent di and tripeptides. This might sound complicated but all it means is that we are protecting muscle tissue, encouraging rapid recovery and in turn growth in the long run!

Post-workout I am not as worried on the timing of this meal, as you just flooded your body with nutrients.  I also don’t think the sources necessarily have to be fast acting as again, you just nailed that during your training. Instead I prefer to have a good balanced whole meal such as steak and rice for example.   Most people have this meal about an hour after they train and do just fine. No need to rush it.

2 – I believe that it is essential we focus on what we eat, ate. Think about that for a second. This is why I focus on eating grass fed meat, free range organic eggs and the likes of. In doing so I believe we can improve overall health which is essential to everything else!

3 – I believe that we should get the majority of our food from wholesome, single ingredient sources to increase micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) intake and naturally occurring digestive enzymes. Gut health is absolutely essential. It is also where the immune system is housed, so they are interlinked. Think about that one!!

4 – We shouldn’t forgo foods we love, even if they are not ‘’ideal.’’ I occasionally enjoy some waffles, have donuts with my kids, and use cereal post or frozen yogurt post workout! The key is to avoid binging, that’s when the problems occur.

Those are my ‘’core’’ beliefs on nutrition.

Amazingly informative!! In relation to the whole carbs and fats debate, do you believe carbs are best consumed around the workout opposed to other times of the day for muscle mass and fat loss?

Absolutely!

Fat cells are more insulin sensitive in the morning so I think it’s logical to fuel the body with protein and fats here assuming you train in the evening. There is also some science that says your body will be able to use fat as an energy source better if early meals are limited to protein and fats. We don’t need tons of carbs really which is why I think it’s intelligent to use them around the workouts more so than other times of the day. I prefer people to train in the afternoon or evenings and carbs are concentrated heavily around these times. When training, you can selectively get glucose to enter muscle cells too, and not fat cells. This is another huge reason to eat more carbs around training as opposed to other parts of the day.

Do you believe you can burn fat and build muscle simultaneously?

There’s a big debate on this now and many say science tells us it’s impossible because to burn fat you need to be in a calorific deficit and to build muscle you need to be in a calorific surplus – you can’t be in both at the same time.

However, my experience tells me otherwise. Science also says that trashed muscle cells can selectively take up glucose over fat cells, so what would happen in this case. Yes, more muscle, and less fat. I see it every year and have done for a very long time so what does that tell us? I will say this, the more experience and “trained” you are, the harder this is. There is also a chemical component here. The more chems people use, the easier this is. It is not easy for a natural, but it is possible. (we are not advocating chemical use at all here and suggest you DO NOT do this).

Great! Moving on to training – can you please outline your fundamental beliefs on training for muscle mass and fat loss?

1 – I believe that we should use a layered approach to maximize the potential for growth of muscle tissue to occur. By this I mean increase strength over a period of time, increase volume, vary rep ranges. These are all various ways to increase stress on a muscle and in turn intensity which is fundamental to facilitating growth in the long run.

2 – I believe that weak muscles need to be trained more frequently! If you have a body part which lags behind the rest then hit it more  – once, twice, three times a week.

3 – Periodize your training so that it is progressive. I work with 3 different phases across a 12 week period typically.

4 – Use cardio sparingly – it’s fine to use it but don’t over use it because it can be the cause of catabolism and metabolic shutdown. (In excess of course).

Awesome – how does your training principles for ladies looking to burn fat change?

It doesn’t! They train hard and eat well just like my guys do!

Fantastic. Moving on to supplementation – how important are supplements for muscle mass and fat loss?

On top of a great diet and training plan I think they can certainly add a special something provided you use the right ones at the right time of the day. I do believe there are a lot of inferior supplements out there though, so choose wisely.

For muscle mass, what would they be?

During your workout I would recommend either a hydrolysed casein or whey and if you cannot afford these then Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) or even Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). For my carb source I would use branch cyclic dextrin.
Post-workout I just eat food, and don’t think further supplementation buys you that much.

Above that, a digestive enzyme and probiotic would be a great choice to support gut health if needed. Also science tells us that consuming high quality fish oils also provide some very good benefits.

Superb! Thank you so much for your insight today, it has been a very educational experience for all of our readers I am sure! Where can people contact you?

It is my absolute pleasure. People can check my work out and join my site at mountaindogdiet.com – thank you guys very much!

About the Author

As an individual I strive to always better myself and my knowledge and to help others who are starting out like I was 5 years ago! Above all else, it is an absolutely huge honour to be the online editor of MonsterSupplements.com!
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