The Importance of Nutrient Timing

During quarantine, all concept of time becomes inexistent. We sleep at 3AM, wake up at 6PM, eat whenever and what ever (well, hopefully not what ever). We forget what day we are. Time is just a faraway concept. It’s understandable, especially for those who don’t have school or work to keep their routine going. It can become very hard to stay on track with the goals you set at the beginning of the year, which is why we posted an IGTV video on our Instagram specifically for those of you looking to get back to your routine pre-Corona. That being said, we understand that your normal day no can look different from your usual normal day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach the fitness goals you set in January. You’ve probably heard us talk about nutrient timing, which refers to when and how you eat your macronutrients according to your training.

Nutrient timing can make a big difference in how your body changes, not because it’s there’s a magical formula behind its science, but because it optimizes muscle mass retention and body fat loss. We say fat loss, because even when your primary goal is to bulk (gain mass), you want to do it strategically so that your body fat percentage doesn’t increase by 20-30% in the process. Nutrient timing will help in minimizing fat gain, optimizing muscle gain, and boosting energy levels and strength during your workout. When in a cutting phase, where losing fat is the main goal, it’s important to preserve as much lean mass as possible whilst losing weight. Thankfully, proper nutrient timing can help with that without having to buy supplements or steroids, as many would believe.

How Nutrient Timing Works

Remember the three macronutrients?

Protein, Carbohydrate, Fat.

Nutrient timing plays around with them by putting a main focus on when you train, morning or evening. Research claims that “consuming the proper ratio of nutrients during this time not only initiates the rebuilding of damaged muscle tissue and restoration of energy reserves, but it does so in a supercompensated fashion that enhances both body composition and exercise performance.” Timing when you eat your carbohydrates and protein, specifically, is what will bring you optimal results as an athlete. Protein is important for muscle repair, therefore a good 20-30g of protein should be taken post-workout to help recover as fast as possible. Carbohydrates are important for glycogen in the muscle tissue and energy maintenance, therefore increasing your carbohydrate intake before and after your workout is important; we recommend eating 60% of your daily carbohydrate needs before and after your workout (30% before, 30% after). This will ensure that you have enough energy and strength during your workout to push heavy weights/maintain your energy levels throughout the workout. This carbohydrate timing will also help replenish your depleted energy and glycogen stores post-workout, when your body will be starving for energy (calories).

Nutrient timing doesn’t really take fats into consideration, although they are very important to one’s diet. Nutrient timing is simply more focused on the benefits of protein and carbohydrate in reaching certain athletic goals. Increasing your fats pre- or post-workout hasn’t been shown to change anything in your lean body mass retention, fat loss, or cardiovascular endurance during a workout. More research may need to be done in order to come to a decisive conclusion on the benefits of fats in nutrient timing.

To keep things simple in knowing when and how to eat your carbohydrates, think of your day as a pyramid:

On days where you workout in the morning, make sure your breakfast is high in fast-acting carbohydrates. You can make a quick breakfast with oats, egg whites, and fruits. This breakfast is high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fats. Considering that you want your main focus to be on hitting your 30% of daily carbohydrate intake pre-workout, this would be the perfect pre-workout breakfast. Something post-workout could be as simple as protein pancakes, with extra toppings (if needed) to make sure your carbohydrate numbers are hit. Throughout the day, make sure you taper off your carbs slowly, so that your last meal of the day is higher in protein and fats than it is in carbs.

On days where you workout in the afternoon/evening, eat a high protein breakfast, such as eggs with egg whites, and turkey bacon, with little to no carbohydrates. This will help you remain full until your next meal, as protein and fat are slow digesting macronutrients. it will also allow for more room for carbohydrates in your lunch, pre-workout, and post-workout meal. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have any protein or fat in your last meal of the day, it simply means that the majority of your plate pre- and post-workout should be carbohydrates. As mentioned earlier in this text, you need protein in your post-workout meal to help in repairing damaged muscle tissue due to training.

To make sure your body receives all the benefits of nutrient timing, eat your pre-workout meal 30-45mins before you train. Same time window for your post-workout meal. You have up to two hours before and after your workout for your body to digest and utilize the nutrients, but 30-45 minutes is the peak window for anabolic results.

Planning ahead in both situation is key. Know what you’re doing the next day (working out in the morning or the evening) to know what you’re going to eat during the day. It forces you into a routine, whether you want to or not, which brings you back to your pre-Corona focus. It may sound very simple, to think twice about what you’re eating pre- and post-workout, but it can make such a difference on how your day progresses, and how fast you get results.

Print these pyramids and put them on your fridge as a reminder. It will help in optimizing athletic results and creating a healthy nutrition routine.

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