Do you remember the old days when nutrient timing was a thing? And then the Calorie Counting zealots and Keto crew made their comeback and then it wasn’t a thing?
Well, I’m here to tell you that even though Nutrient Timing is not THE most important thing, it’s still a thing.
One question to keep in the back of your mind when reading the following, is the best nutrition for performance the same as best nutrition for body composition? Can you get the best of both worlds?
In some instances yes, in some no. The most important thing to do is always look at the context of what the results are trying to tell you.
Without trying to make this a long bloated and drawn out post, I’ll try and keep the following points as short as possible.
- Just because you have a protein shake with some fast acting carbs after your workout DOES NOT mean you are going to get god like gains. Overall macro intake for the day is obviously more important than when. However, as you know from previous articles, you CAN optimise meal number, frequency and protein composition to optimise results (read previous posts on protein consumption). Having fast acting carbs and protein post workout DOES increase muscle protein synthesis rates and replenish carbohydrate stores.
- Yes, even if you spread your carbohydrate intake throughout the day, or have it in one bolus dose post workout, your muscle glycogen replenishment over a 24 hour period will be the same. BUT are the results in body composition the same?? Ironically, people cite research to prove themselves right in one area, and often fail to see the implications in another. Remember when you were told you shouldn’t eat carbs after 4pm or 5pm? Then a whole bunch of research came out proving this false? One research paper proving this was completed in 2011 (1). This research showed that people who consumed 80% of their daily carbohydrate intake at night actually lost more weight and fat than those who consumed their evenly spread throughout the day. Can you see the implications of the above two bits of research? If you want the best results in performance AND body composition you are better off consuming the bulk of your carbohydrate intake as a bolus dose rather than spread out evenly throughout the day. Recovery for glycogen is the same, but one method is superior for body composition results.
- Something we’ve known for a long long time, but “During high intensity exercise, the provision of carbohydrate is a good strategy to offset fatigue and enhance performance.” (2) Again, put this in to context of the above research. Not only are you better off consuming the bulk of your carbohydrates in a bolus dose, if you want to optimise recovery and performance, you need to distribute this optimally around your workout too.
My theory is and has always been: optimise nutrition to get your body composition results, but you don’t want your workouts to suck either. The better quality of your workouts, the better results you will get in body composition goals.
Protein intake should be spread evenly throughout the day to maximise the muscle protein synthesis response. Carbohydrate intake needs to be distributed correctly to optimise workout performance and recovery as well as maximise desired body composition gains.
Ensure macro targets for overall body composition goals. Nutrient timing to maximise performance and recovery
If you want to know how this works in practice for your own individual circumstances, be sure to contact me.
- Sofer, S., Eliraz, A., Kaplan, S., Voet, H., Fink, G., Kima, T., & Madar, Z. (2011). Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner. Obesity, 19(10), 2006-2014.
Sport Nutrition Conference 2008 Repeated Sprinting: Application in Team Sports. Stuart Phillips, Ph.D.
Exercise Metabolism Research Group McMaster University