Q and A

Transformation Tip: Nutrient timing


Q: I always hear people talking about the importance of nutrient timing. What exactly does that mean and is it really that important?

A: In a nutshell, nutrient timing refers to the strategic ingestion of certain nutrients at specific times. This time sensitive approach originally focused on the pre, during, and post training periods and has shown that nutrients consumed in these periods impact performance, fatigue, strength, immune function, time to exhaustion, muscle damage, muscle glycogen resynthesis, and protein synthesis.

Some of the initial research into nutrient timing investigated the effects of carbohydrate ingestion before, during, or after exercise. It was found that carbohydrate ingestion around exercise improved performance and recovery from an acute bout of exercise.

This finding was essential in our understanding of improving training adaptations.

Always looking for ways to better an outcome, researchers set out to investigate the effects of combined carbohydrate and protein ingestion and the effects its consumption before, during and after training might have.

Many different exercise protocols were investigated: resistance training, endurance training, interval/intermittent training and all had similar outcomes.

Not only did the ingestion of carbohydrate and protein have a beneficial effect on performance and training outcomes in all situations, it also reduced feelings of soreness and indicators of muscle damage.

The benefits didn’t stop there. Consumption of carbohydrate and protein around the workout period resulted in improved performance, delayed fatigue, improved immune function, increased time to exhaustion, decreased muscle damage, increased muscle glycogen resynthesis, and increased protein synthesis.

The evidence is clear, adding protein to carbohydrate bolsters the positive outcomes seen from ingesting carbohydrates alone. But is it the magical combination of carbohydrate and protein that we can thank for these benefits or is it something else?

The question becomes, does this ingestion of carbohydrate and protein have the same effect whenever it is ingested, or does timing matter?

It turns out that timing does matter. In fact delaying post-workout ingestion of carbs and protein by only 45 minutes can severely affect the outcome of your training session. Delayed nutrient delivery means delayed recovery.

The effects of delayed post training nutrition are not limited simply to delayed recovery from training, but also negatively impact any gains that might have been seen from the training session.

Delaying nutrient intake in this critical post workout period also negatively affects nutrient partitioning from subsequent feedings.

Let me say that another way. Taking in carbohydrates and protein immediately after your training session actually increases the benefits you see from your training. Score!!

This immediate post workout ingestion of carbs and protein also ensures that you benefit that much more from all of the other meals that you take in. That’s right, post workout nutrient timing actually increases the anabolic (muscle building) effects seen from all of your subsequent meals! Big score!

Miss that first opportunity and the negative trickle down effect is unavoidable.

Let me say that again. Missing your post workout nutrition makes it harder for you to get the benefits from your next meals.

Muscle glycogen stores will not be as effectively replenished. Muscle protein synthesis will not be triggered to the same extent and your immune system function will remain depressed.

Timing things appropriately can help to improve performance, delay fatigue, protect immune function, increase time to exhaustion, attenuate strength decline, attenuate muscle damage, increase muscle glycogen resynthesis, and increase protein synthesis.

Delaying supplementation will result in compromising all of these parameters.

Practicing chronic nutrient timing strategies can also lead to improved body composition and improved health outcomes while failing to do so will lead to detrimental effects.

While this is just the beginning of nutrient timing, I think you will agree it is pretty important.

When you consume the right foods at the correct time, you create the perfect metabolic environment for fat loss, muscle recovery and better health – all at once! Once you know what are the correct foods and the correct times it all becomes easy. When you understand the simple rules, you know exactly what are the best choices to make and, what a poor choice is that will derail progress.

Even better, when you know how to construct metabolically precise meals you’ll have the solutions for any situation, every day. You’ll know exactly how to eat to harness the power of exercise to improve energy levels, fat loss and body shape. Importantly, you’ll program your metabolism to avoid overeating and body fat accumulation. Quite simply, Metabolic Nutrition Timing makes food work for you.

If you make the time to exercise, why not educate yourself on how to get the best results in the shortest possible amount of time spent exercising! Isn’t that what it’s all about!

Learn more about how to implement Nutrient Timing here
Reference: Ivy J. Ferguson-Stegall L. Nutrient Timing: The Means to Improved Exercise Performance, Recovery, and Training Adaptation published online 7 October 2013 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF LIFESTYLE MEDICINE DOI: 10.1177/1559827613502444