First off, nutrient timing is and can be an extremely complicated subject. For the purpose of this book, we will present this topic in a simplified way. We could probably write a whole book on nutrient timing. Maybe later? 🙂
Nutrient timing is simply eating certain nutrients in certain quantities at certain times of the day.
Appropriate nutrient timing is going to ultimately depend on a number of different factors including:
Time of day
Previously fasted or fed
Type / Length of exercise
Underlying health conditions
Remember, nutrient timing is a strategy that has a very specific application. It’s not for everyone!
Be honest, raise your hand if you eat a protein bar on the way to the gym?
Do you really think that protein bar is fueling your workout? No…
Remember, it takes time for food to digest, absorb, and then able to metabolize and be utilized as fuel. You might be able to get away with this if you’re NOT doing high intensity exercise, but if you are then you are probably going to throw up. The meal or snack is literally just sitting in your gut, undigested, as you’re trying to give it your all in your workout. We typically recommend eating a meal 2-3 hours before exercise. Remember, this meal should be mainly a whole food protein and easily-digested carbohydrates.
What if you workout early morning like 5 or 6 am? You better wake up @ 2 am! Lol just kidding 🙂
If this is you, no worries! We recommend treating your dinner the night before as your pre-workout meal. Remember, you should alway walk into a workout feeling slightly hungry. Basically not stuffed, not starving, but just right 🙂
If you are someone that is on the go that needs a quick pre-workout or intra-workout fuel source then a protein/carb shake can definitely help, especially as liquid digests faster than whole foods. Remember, whole foods are always the best fuel source so be sure to plan out your breakfast, lunch, dinner to the best of your ability each day.
Besides these 3 times, there are no consistent data supporting the optimum number of meals to eat each day or the timing of those meals. It is simply up to the individual. So you can eat 1 meal a day or 10, whatever makes you feel your best!
Post Workout Shake & Post Post Workout Meal
Your desire to have a post workout shake will dictate what your post workout nutrition looks like. For most of you, we do not believe that a post workout shake is necessary. We believe you can get all the proper nutrition you need through whole foods.
Most non-competitive athletes should simply eat a meal consisting of carbohydrates and protein about 2-3 hours before and after workouts. This should fuel you and allow you to adequately recover, assuming all of the rest of your food intake and lifestyle factors are in check. Only if you are getting an adequate amount of sleep, eating good quality foods in the right amounts, working on mobility and flexibility, and keeping alcohol intake to a minimum, should you seriously consider need for supplementation.
For competitive athletes, we absolutely believe that a post workout shake, as well as a number of other supplements, can be beneficial, based on the individual. If you’re an athlete, consider implementing a post workout shake about 15-30 minutes after working out. Protein and carbohydrates in forms that we will discuss in the next section can help with fueling in between and recovery from workouts.
Focus on building healthy sustainable habits first, then you can get fancy 🙂
Whatever you do, just focus on building healthy sustainable habits that make you feel, look, and perform your best!