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How To Use Nutrient Timing For Your Best Body

nutrient timing

Nutrient timing is an advanced method of eating that allows you to adjust the timing and amount of certain macronutrients, based on when you workout and how intensely you workout. If you’ve already mastered carb cycling, nutrient timing is a further technique to use to take your physique to the next level.

In this article, I’ll discuss the ins and outs of what nutrient timing is and how you can use it to improve your physique.

What Is Nutrient Timing?

Nutrient timing is a fairly new, yet advanced technique for eating that encourages users to adjust the foods they eat throughout the day, in relation to when they exercise. It sounds a bit complicated but after reading through this article, you’ll have a clearer vision of how this process works.

Nutrient timing is quite similar to carb cycling in that you adjust the amount of each macronutrient and the time that you consume them, based on a number of different factors such as the type of workout, the intensity of the workout and the type and amount of fuel used during the workout.

Essentially, with nutrient timing, you’ll adjust when you consume certain macronutrients, based on when you exercise. This is thought to help ensure that the macronutrients you consume get shuttled towards the tissues you want. For example, using nutrient timing to adjust your carbohydrate intake may ensure that the carbs you consume don’t get stored as body fat.

Why Use Nutrient Timing?

Even though total calories consumed and expended is the number one determinant of weight loss or management, it’s important to recognize that the macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) act differently in the body.

Further, it’s important to understand that exercise changes how the body uses the food we ingest. With this in mind, nutrient timing allows you to leverage these differences in ways that might optimize your physique and also your ability to recover from intense workouts.

Using a nutrient timing method is simply an extra measure to ensure success, much like carb cycling is an effective method of moderating carb intake based on activity level.

Nutrient Timing Basics

For the purpose of understanding what nutrient timing entails, we’ll focus primarily on protein and carbohydrates for now, but don’t worry, I’ll touch on fat as well.

The reason that I want to focus on protein and carbohydrate right now is because these are the two most important macronutrients to manipulate around the workout for recovery and growth.

Essentially, with nutrient timing, you’ll save your carbohydrate intake to coincide with your workout. As I’ll get into later, doing so ensures that the carbs you are using get shuttled towards muscle. Additionally, by using this method, you’ll be able to adjust the amount of carbs you’re consuming, based on the workout intensity and focus.

Protein, on the other hand, can be consumed at any time point during the day; however, proper consumption around the workout is imperative for optimal recovery and growth.

Carb Timing

Timing when you consume carbohydrates is a fairly advanced technique but one of my favorite practices since it allows you to have such control over when you consume them as well as the amount you consume.

One of the major reasons saving carbs until after you train works so well is because when you exercise, your muscles become sensitized to carbohydrate (glucose). See, under normal circumstances, your muscle requires two things to occur.

First, when you consume carbohydrates without exercise, your muscle requires insulin to shuttle this glucose out of the blood into muscle. Second, since glucose is too large to just enter cells, it also requires the transport protein, known as GLUT4.

GLUT4 is a protein that allows glucose to enter into the cell, where it can provide energy and even be stored for future use. The problem is in the absence of exercise, this protein resides within the cell, where it can’t interact with glucose. When the muscle contracts, however, this protein migrates to the outermost part of the cell, known as the membrane, where it can freely shuttle glucose into the cell.

It’s because of this that timing your carb intake around the workout is so important and effective. By consuming carbs around the workout, you ensure that those carbohydrates will be shuttled towards the muscle rather than fat.

Second, by saving your carb intake until around the workout, you’ll be able to manipulate the amount of carbs that you consume, on the fly according to your workout intensity and duration.

Essentially, timing your carb intake allows you to effectively cycle carbohydrates while ensuring that when you do consume them, they are shuttled towards the areas you want them to be.

If you want to appropriately time your carbohydrate intake, I suggest that you save the bulk of your carbohydrate intake for around the workout. Further, I suggest that even if you do decide to consume carbs before training, a majority of your daily carb allotment should be consumed after the workout has already been completed.

Protein Timing

Protein timing is a bit different in that the focus of timing your protein is around optimizing the muscle building response, rather than avoiding accidental weight gain.

When you consume protein, you up-regulate a process in the body known as protein synthesis. When activated, the body takes amino acids and begins forming new proteins in the body, such as the proteins that allow you to contract your muscle.

When you workout, you actually elevate this process of protein synthesis, meaning you’re in a prime position to build muscle and definition, but if you aren’t consuming protein around that time, it’s likely that you’re wasting a muscle building opportunity.

To appropriately time protein, I suggest that you consume at least 30-40 grams either before or after your training sessions. For maximum effect, I suggest consuming that protein before and after your workouts.

Fat Timing

Fat timing is a bit different from the other macronutrients in that you’ll be consuming more fat at times that are not near the workout. This is primarily because at workout time, you’ll also be consuming a large amount of carbohydrates.

Essentially, when carbohydrate intake is high, fat intake should be reduced, simply because of its high calorie per gram ratio.

Because of this, I suggest that you place a majority of your fat intake earlier in the day or at least at other times than your workout. This will help ensure that you’re still appropriately managing your calories.

Examples Of Nutrient Timing

To give a visual of how you’ll do this, here is an example day of nutrient timing, for someone who trains around 4-6 p.m.

  • 9 am – Breakfast
    • High Protein, Moderate Fat, Low Carb
      • 3 Eggs
      • ¼ cup Shredded Cheddar
      • ½ cup Diced Ham
      • Mushrooms
      • Broccoli
      • ½ Avocado
    • 12 pm – Lunch
      • High Protein, Moderate Fat, Low Carb
        • Chicken Breast
        • Lemon
        • Garlic
        • Steamed Asparagus
        • Side Salad
      • 3:30 pm Pre Workout
        • High Protein, Moderate Carb, Low Fat
          • 1 Scoop Whey Protein
          • ½ Cup Quick Oats
          • ½ Cup Blueberries
        • 6 pm – Post Workout
          • High Protein, High Carb, Low Fat
            • 1 Scoop Whey Protein
            • Chicken Breast
            • 1 Cup Jasmine Rice
            • 1 Sweet Potato
            • Barbeque Sauce (or other)
            • Steamed, Mixed Veggies
          • 8 pm – Late Snack
            • High Protein, Moderate Carb, Moderate Fat
              • 1 Cup Greek Yogurt
              • 1 Cup 4% Fat Cottage Cheese
              • 1 Cup Fruit (berries, peaches, etc.)

As you can see, all nutrient timing entails is adjusting the macronutrients you consume, based on when you exercise. For the most part, nutrient timing includes avoiding carbohydrate away from the workout, while increasing consumption close to the workout.

Through the example above, meals start with an emphasis on fat with reduced carbs while we increase carb consumption around the workout.

nutrient timing

Nutrient Timing

Nutrient timing is an extra step you can take to ensure that you’re appropriately manipulating your energy intake based on your activity level and workouts.

Nutrient timing takes your level of control a step further as you can manipulate not only the amount of each macronutrient you consume, but also when you consume them to maximize your body’s ability to use them for exactly what you want and need.

Consider using nutrient timing practices like this to take your dieting game and overall body composition to the next level.

nutrient timing

About the author

Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN

Rudy has a 1st class BSc in Exercise, Nutrition & Health and a Masters in Exercise & Nutrition Science from the University of Tampa. Rudy currently works as a Human Performance Researcher, Sports Nutritionist and Physique Coach. Over 7 years he has helped over 500 people around the world achieve long last physique transformations.

He now works closely with a variety of professional athletes and teams, including the NBA, USA Athletics, World Triathlon Gold Medalists, Hollywood Celebrities and IFBB Pro Bodybuilders. If you would like to get in contact or work with Rudy please contact him on social media.

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