Nutrient Timing is the science behind eating specific foods at specific times in order to achieve specific results. It sounds fancy, but it is really a simple concept.
Nutrient Timing has the potential to maximize your workouts. By combining the right macro-nutrients in the right time-frames, you can keep your body in an anabolic, fat-burning, muscle-building state. That means that just by changing the timing of your food, you can see bigger and faster results!
There are three phases in Nutrient Timing:
The Energy Phase:
This happens during your workout. Your body steals the glycogen stores from your muscles to fuel your workout – which is good and keeps you working hard in your training. But since the stores are emptied, your muscles start breaking down and you enter a catabolic state.
Not a good state to be in for very long because your muscles are deteriorating.
The Anabolic Phase
Happens immediately following your workout.
Since your muscles started deteriorating in the last phase, the goal of this phase is to get them out of the catabolic deterioration and to start rebuilding. To make that happen, you need a combination of protein and carbs. If you eat these protein and carbs within 45 minutes of your workout, you can counterbalance the deterioration and get your muscles into an anabolic, muscle building state. The carbs you eat in this anabolic window get immediately converted to glycogen, rather than stored in your fat cells. Which is good – that means no storing fat. Only building muscles.
The Growth Phase
This happens about 4 to 18 hours post workout. If you ate your protein adn carbs during your post workout Anabolic Window, you’re already in an anabolic state. You spend the entire growth phase repairing the muscle breakdown, burning fat, and building muscle. Awesome.
But if you missed your Window of Opportunity, your body uses the Growth Phase to get into an anabolic state. Now this is challenging very challenging and doesn’t give your muscles the time or fuel to grow. It’s really just working to repair the damage – not give you new growth.
So that’s nutrient timing in a nutshell.
A recent study (a big one that looked at dozens of other studies) found that nutrient timing doesn’t really matter.
What?! That means that even though there were some studies claiming that Nutrient Timing existed and changed your fitness success, there were also plenty of studies that didn’t find it existed.
The moral of the story – Nutrient Timing seems like a legit idea, but the empirical evidence to support it is less than conclusive. And because the evidence is lacking, we can’t fully support the presence or absence of Nutrient Timing.
SO WHAT DO I DO NOW?
Until more research is done, we can’t make a complete decision on whether or not timing your meals is good for your fitness success. But we still believe that Nutrient Timing has a place and purpose, despite the lack of empirical evidence.
So here’s our recommendations:
If you are an early morning worker-outer and you don’t eat before your training, it’s important to get protein and carbohydrates immediately following your training.
If you are an afternoon or evening worker-outer, and you eat a decent amount of protein right before your training, you may not need to be too concerned with an immediate post-workout snack. You prior protein appears to be sufficient to last until your next planned mealtime (which should still fit your macros and include a moderate dose of protein).
If you are an afternoon or evening worker-outer and you don’t eat before your training, then you would probably benefit from an immediate post-workout snack or meal of high protein and carbs.
Ultimately, if you don’t mind the inconvenience of planning and eating a protein/carb supplement directly after your workout, then do it. But if you miss the window of opportunity, don’t sweat it. It might not even exist.
Even though researchers can’t agree on the existence of the Window of Opportunity, what they CAN agree on is the importance of protein in our diets! Protein is absolutely essential for the repair and growth of our muscles. So regardless of whether you refuel your body within 45 minutes of your workout or a few hours later during your next meal, that fuel needs protein.
It’s true what they say: NOT ALL PROTEINS ARE CREATED EQUAL. Optimize your protein intake by choosing a protein that gives your more bang for your buck.
Download this FREE PDF to find out the 6 ways this powerhouse can transform your body and mind!