Nutrient timing has been around forever, but it wasn’t until recently that it gained a ton of popularity. The timing of nutrients is crucial for any athlete looking. To drop a weight class or to simply perform at an optimal level. Nutrient timing is about when to eat, how often to eat, and what to eat. I will discuss the ins and outs of this concept in the simplest form. So that all you’ll have to do is read it once and you’ll never forget it, well maybe.
When, How Often and What To Eat?
How often you should eat really plays a large role in energy, mood, and body composition. Breaking your calories down into several small meals a day has the benefit of consistent blood spikes. So your energy is controlled. Less hunger throughout the day which will prevent you from splurging or overeating. It shows through years of bodybuilding. Now backed by some science that it will change your body composition to a more favorable leaner you.
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Now several meals throughout the day work for most and quite. Honestly should work for everyone, but you will always have that job or life get in the way. Are these excuses? Quite frankly yes, if you want something bad enough you’ll make it happen.
Tips to help you reach your goals just in case you can’t eat 5-6 meals per day:
- If you can only eat 3-4x a day supplement with a shake or a BCAA’s drink in bet meals.
- If there are an extended period bet meals and you’re hungry either drink coffee or chew gum. This will help with appetite
- Eat plenty of veggies with meals as this will slow down digesting and increase satiety.
- Have a healthy snack drawer at work with things like tuna, beef jerky, or other sources of protein.
- When in doubt eat protein and veggies, snacking on veggies in between meals is also a viable option.
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Basically, from the time you wake until the time you sleep, you should eat every 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours. Whether it be in the form of a whole meal or shake it doesn’t matter something is better than nothing. Timing would be complete if I didn’t mention the timing of your pre-workout drink, pre-workout meaning pre, during, and after, this drink should start to be consumed 20-30 minutes before the workout just sipping it and then drink all of it throughout your workout. After the shake, your post-workout meal can be consumed 45-90 minutes afterward.
Now that we have our meals and timing planned out let’s talk about the timing of macronutrients such as carbs, fats, and proteins. No matter what diet you do these priceless reign true, so if you are carb cycling, zone, paleo, or flexible dieting these concepts will help you establish the criteria for putting your meals together.
Start with protein first.
Protein is the building blocks of muscles and must be eaten at every meal, but some proteins are better than others and some are just more appropriate for the timing of the meal. First, let’s start with during and after the workout, you want a fast-absorbing a digesting protein during the workout so a whey isolate is preferred, anyone just finds the brand that has the lowest fat and carbs in it and that sits well with your stomach.
Post-workout goes with a mix of casein and whey this will provide you with a fast and slow digesting protein which will help you sustain protein synthesis longer which is the repair and building of muscles. As far as a post-workout meal goes if you are dropping carbs than red meat is preferred as it has a better amino acid profile than white meat but if carbs stay high then go with a slice of less fatty meat such as any white meat.
That's pretty much the standard for all meals outside of this window. If carbs high go with more white or leaner meats and if carbs are low or you’re not adding in any fats than go with red meat. For bedtime you want a slower digesting protein, so something like casein or dairy works great here just be residents of the calories you don’t want to go to bed with a full belly as it may mess with your sleep.
Next up is the dreaded carbs, they have such a bad rap but can do so many great things for performance and body composition. Instead of using things like the Glycemic Index to describe carbs we will just go with fast-digesting carbs and slow-digesting carbs.
The more processed the faster the carbs digest, think things like cereal, cream of rice, baby food, etc.. These simple carbs are great to eat before and after a workout and when I say before and after. I mean 20-30 minutes before and after. It’s not uncommon for me to eat 3-4 Rice Krispie treats and a shake before hitting the gym. The reason behind this is 1. you don’t want a bunch of food sitting in your stomach while your training and 2. the faster you digest it the faster it starts to circulate through your bloodstream to promote muscle building and recovery.
Slow digesting carbs are great to eat at any other meal throughout the day, things like brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, etc… are slower digesting so the insulin spike is not as high and it will give your longer more sustainable energy throughout the day. They are also great at keeping you fuller longer so when on a cut these are great to add so you’re not starving meal to meal.