Nutrient timing refers to how we plan our macro-nutrient (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) intake in order to improve health, improve body composition, to improve athletic performance, and/or to enhance recovery. The body can handle different kinds of food at different times. We can manipulate what and when we eat based on how the body will best digest and absorb the nutrients. It’s important to note that every body is different and tolerates different foods differently. I will give you some ideas as to what may work for your body however, if your body does not respond be sure to make adaptations that work for you. I will include general guidelines however if you do not see results you should consult a dietician or nutritionist to design a program for your specific needs.
How much we eat is an important aspect of changing body composition. For example, to maintain our weight we must burn as many calories as we consume. To lose weight we must eat less then we burn and to gain weight we must eat more then we burn. Your personal goals will influence how much you eat. Are you wanting to maintain your lean body composition or, are you an athlete that needs to consume more calories to keep up with energy demands? If you are a recreational exerciser nutrient timing may not be something you want to spend your energy thinking about. If you want to make changes in your body composition these tips may help you.
Carbohydrates are a macro-nutrient that I always hear people talking about. Carbohydrates seem to be a curse as so many of us want to eliminate them from our nutrition. Perhaps because we have heard they make us fat or we heard that a low or no carb diet will help us lose weight. Carbohydrates are our fuel source so it is not a good idea to eliminate them from our nutrition plan however we can use them more efficiently. We have carbohydrates that are higher in fiber and that we burn more slowly. These are beans/legumes and vegetables. These can be eaten anytime and help us control blood sugar levels. We also have simple sugars like candy, soda pop and foods that don’t give us any nutritional value. These carbohydrates can eventually have adverse effects on the body.
When is the best time to eat carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are best eaten during or after a workout. Especially a workout that has an increase in intensity such as weight lifting, sprinting etc. This is when our glycogen stores (carbs in their usable form) have been tapped out and we need more carbs in our body to replace what we used up. If one is sedentary or has not had a chance to exercise for the day eating an abundance of carbs is not recommended. The excess amount that you eat and that is stored will turn to fat instead. If you decide to go the simple sugar route and have a need for a sweet treat, eat it after a workout. Some other good choices that are best to eat after exercise are quinoa, sprouted grain breads, potatoes, yams,squash, oats, cereals etc. It is also interesting to note that different body types use carbs differently. Generally, a tall skinny person can tolerate starchy carbs better than a short stocky body type. Remember, the best time to eat starchy carbs is within a couple hours of your exercise routine.
Proteins and fats should be eaten at each meal. Proteins are lean meats, chicken, turkey, bison, venison. Fish sources like tuna, salmon, cod or orange roughy are good choices. Eggs, cottage cheese, cheese, or Greek yogurt, beans, peas, legumes, tofu etc. are great choices as well. Good fats are avocado, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios and olives. Fish oil, safflower oil, sunflower seeds, peanuts, canola oil, walnuts and flax seed are great choices. Animal fats such as eggs, cheese and butter in addition to coconut oil and palm oil are all good sources of fats. Again these should be eaten at each meal throughout the day.