Optimize Performance with Nutrient Timing

Optimize Performance with Nutrient Timing

In today’s world of competitive sports, it seems that everyone is looking for an edge – a way to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd.  The obvious answer to most is to train as hard as you can and eat a healthy diet.  However, there may be more to it than that.  Many athletes and trainers are now implementing a concept called nutrient timing.  That is, eating the correct balance of macronutrients at precise times to provide perfect conditions for training and recovery.

There are 4 phases of nutrient timing that are important for maximum performance and recovery from training.  These include:

The Energy Phase – Stage 1:

Stage 1 is considered pre-workout nutrition, and generally occurs 4 hours or less before an event or training session. During this time, nutritional focus should be on consuming carbohydrates in amounts adequate to increase muscle glycogen stores and delay the onset of fatigue during activity.  An ideal pre workout meal for maximum performance is 1 to 2 grams of carbohydrates coupled with .15 to .25 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (1 pound is equal to .45 kilograms).  This should be eaten within 4 hours of an event.

The Energy Phase – Stage 2:

Stage 2 occurs during the exercise window. For example, distance runners may eat carbohydrates in the form of an energy gel during a long run. Bodybuilders may drink a shake between sets and reps while at the gym – particularly during a higher intensity session like legs. This helps the athlete maintain normal blood glucose levels allowing continued exertion during training.  An intake ratio of 3-4 grams carbohydrate to 1 gram protein during exercise may increase endurance performance during short but intense bouts of exercise as well as subsequent bouts of endurance training.

The Anabolic Phase:

This phase begins immediately following to 45 minutes after physical activity is complete. The nutrition that occurs during this phase is considered by many to be the most important meal of the day. The nutrients consumed immediately following training have the power to switch the body from muscle breakdown mode to muscle building mode.  A general recommendation is to eat 1.2 grams to 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight immediately following and at intervals of every two hours for 6 to 8 hours after exercise.

The Adaptation Phase:

Known as the growth phase, this usually refers to the 4 to 6 hour window after the effects of the initial post-workout meal have diminished. Studies have indicated that supplementing with protein and carbohydrates up to 48 hours after a workout may result in a slight increase in muscle protein synthesis.  For people who train regularly and are trying to decrease fat mass and increase lean mass, research suggests that consuming 40g of a soy supplement 30-minutes prior to sleep increases whole body protein synthesis while maintaining elevated levels of muscle protein synthesis during this phase.


Nutrient Timing Simplified:

The most important thing to remember when it comes to nutrient timing is that it really isn’t a “special technique”. When you really break it down, it requires the consumption of whole, healthy foods in ratios that are mostly carbohydrates with moderate protein and some fat. Ensuring you consistently fuel your body at intervals throughout each day will set you up to benefit from nutrient timing. Just make sure you set your alarm to hit the critical fueling points throughout your day as they pertain to your workouts.

CATEGORIES: Health, Diet, Nutrient, Healthy Food