Let me preface this entire article by saying that this idea of nutrient timing is not accepted by all and is simply a guideline based on results that I have seen from myself and many clients over the years. The idea of nutrient timing has been around for quite some time and was utilized by many of the early pioneers in the health and fitness industry. Recently, this idea has been brought to the masses by people like John Meadows and other top-level coaches.
Nutrient timing is the idea that there are specific times that certain macronutrients should be consumed for optimal results. In this article, I will cover how I utilize this process, the benefits of nutrient timing, and the biggest issue I see with If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) in relation to nutrient timing.
HOW CAN YOU APPLY NUTRIENT TIMING?
For this article’s purposes, I am going to offer some pretty general statements and guidelines. Please understand that these guidelines may not apply to all but should be a pretty good starting point for those of you that would like to utilize nutrient timing correctly.
- Delay an insulin spike in the body early in the day.
- The main way you achieve this is by limiting or excluding carbohydrates early in the morning.
- For a majority of my clients, the first 1 or 2 meals have no carbohydrates and are strictly fat, protein, and trace carbs from veggies. This is especially true for those that are trying to lose fat or improve body composition.
- IMPORTANT: If training in the morning, this concept will not apply to you. See point 2.
- Utilize carbohydrates, fats, and protein pre-workout.
- The meal you eat prior to training should contain all three macronutrients. This will give you optimal energy and hormonal response before beginning training.
- If in a dieting phase, you may want to pull out carbohydrates or fats
- ***This Is why if you train first thing in the morning you will not want to limit carbohydrate intake in your first meal. ***
- Utilize Carbohydrates and Essential Amino Acids (EAA) intra-workout
- For most individuals, even those dieting this will be an optimal time to take in carbohydrates as this is when your body will best utilize this macronutrient.
- A large benefit of utilizing carbs and EAA before and during your workout is that it extends the time after your workout within which you should consume your post-workout meal.
- Utilize Carbohydrates and keep Fats low in your Post-workout meal.
- After your workout is concluded, your body needs carbohydrates and amino acids to help repair and rebuild your muscle tissue.
- Dietary fats can slow down digestion and utilization of carbohydrates and protein. This leads to the point of keeping your post-workout meal low in fat.
I follow these 4 main points with the majority of my clients. There will always be exceptions to the rules, but this applies to most!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF NUTRIENT TIMING?
- Most of my clients see an immediate improvement in body composition.
- When you are utilizing food at the correct time to influence the body’s natural production of hormones, it creates a optimal environment for proper usage of the fuel that is being supplied.
- Energy levels are much more consistent due to insulin not being spiked multiple times throughout the day.
- Insulin sensitivity improves.
- Endurance, pumps and overall energy increases during workouts.
CONFLICTING ISSUES WITH IIFYM?
IIFYM (if it fits your macros) Style Dieting-
- The biggest issues I see here is those that are given a certain number of macros to hit for the entire day without any specific guidelines as to when to take those macros in. This gives the individual the opportunity to “bank” certain macronutrients so that they can consume them whenever they feel like they want to. The biggest issue with this is this leads to individuals taking in carbohydrates in large amounts or fats with carbohydrates in large amounts when it is not optimal (i.e. a tub of ice cream before bed). Now, will this hurt you if your total daily macros and caloric intake are on point? Not necessarily, but just because something doesn’t hurt you does not mean it is optimal for best results.
- To counter this issue when I have clients that do IIFYM I simply give them macro nutrients per meal. This eliminates the chance of them being able to “bank” certain macronutrients and takes nutrient timing into considerations. This still allows for freedom to choose foods that they find “fun” instead of simply eating chicken and rice. But, it limits when certain macronutrients will be consumed and therefore takes into account nutrient timing.
In conclusion, nutrient timing can be a very useful tool to help create the physique you envision. If you are already eating healthy and tracking your food daily, this will be a simple tweak that can be applied with considerable results. This very well could be the one change you need in order for your body to get past the plateau you are stuck on. Give nutrient timing a try and let me know about your results!