What is Nutrient Timing & and Are There Benefits?

We all recognize that eating right, getting exercise, and sticking to a sleeping schedule are important factors to any wellness routine. It’s also important to include vitamin and mineral supplements to your lifestyle, especially if you’re working towards a specific fitness goal. So yes eating healthy is important, but did you know that it’s not just what you eat, but when you eat that can have an impact? This is known as nutrient timing, and it has been used by trainers and athletes to help them not only achieve their goals, but help them stay in peak physical condition. 

However, is this process something that can make a difference in your fitness routine? What are the potential benefits behind accurate nutrient timing? We’ll discuss this and more as we examine:

  • What is nutrient timing?
  • Are there benefits to nutrient timing? 
  • Is nutrient timing for you?

What is Nutrient Timing?

Not to worry if you’re unfamiliar with this term, it means exactly what it says!

large nutrition sign in scrabble letters.
It’s been around for years, so you may be familiar with the process of nutrient timing, just not aware this concept had a name!

Nutrient timing is knowing when and what to eat before and after physical exercise to help athletes of all levels achieve their fitness goals. In order to reach higher performance limits, many people have turned to the science of nutrients, and how the body absorbs and metabolizes them, to improve overall function and muscle growth. Long used by both bodybuilders and professional athletes, nutrition timing uses the physiology of the body to determine what and how much should be consumed prior to a workout, as well as after.

In order to understand how nutrient timing might help you reach your performance goals, it’s helpful to know the stages of nutrient timing.

First Stage. This is considered the energy phase, which is directly before you intend on doing some physical exercise. At this point, you’re looking to fuel up with a carbohydrate and some protein to prepare the body for a workout, which should result in more stamina and faster muscle recovery time post-exercise. This would also be the ideal time to consume caffeine or theacrine for enhanced energy, focus, and exercise longevity.

Second Stage. This is the important stage post-workout, also known in nutrient timing as the anabolic stage. It’s a 15-60 minute window when your body can quickly absorb both carbohydrates and protein. Carbs are important post-workout since they help to boost glycogen stores resulting in improved performance and swifter recoveries. It’s also important to get the right amount of protein during this window, as this will replenish the proteins lost during exercise and stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

Third Stage. The rest of the day post-workout is known as the growth phase, where you are continuing to consume lean protein and carbs to encourage muscle repair, growth, and to build strength in the long run. 

Key takeaways:

  • Nutrient timing is knowing when and what to eat pre and post-workout.
  • There are three stages to nutrient timing, where you consume carbs and protein to prepare, replenish, and repair before and after your exercise routine.
  • Nutrient timing may lead to better performance results more quickly than with just exercise alone.

What Are the Benefits of Nutrient Timing?

Get the most out of your workouts with nutrient timing

Exercise can take a lot out of your body, which is why it’s important to replenish it and refuel it after any rigorous workout so you can go harder and stronger next time!

Now that we know what nutrient timing is, and how it works with your body, let’s talk about some of the potential benefits of using it in your daily workout routine.

  • Have more energy. We all know how good it feels to complete a workout, but it takes a lot of energy! That’s why by using nutrient training to fuel your body before you workout, you’re ensuring that your body has all the right energy it needs to operate at peak performance. Without the right stores of energy to draw on, there’s no way you’ll be able to progress towards your fitness goals.
  • Allow your muscles to recover quickly. The damage done after a workout is necessary, since it signals the body to begin muscle repair and growth. However, you can’t effectively do this without the right fuel to replenish. Post-workout repair is essential to building strength and stamina, as it refuels the body’s energy reserves and starts muscle repairs for speedy recoveries.
  • Build muscle and reduce injury. Eating the right amount of carbs and proteins pre and post-workout can help the muscle-building process by limiting excessive tissue breakdown. You can also reduce your risk of injury by ensuring that your muscles have energy to appropriately repair with carb and protein refueling. 
  • Boost the immune system. Strenuous exercise can take a lot out of the body, but it can also have an impact on the strength of the immune system. If muscles are not adequately restored, they can become depleted in carbs, which can lower the blood level of immune cells. This offers a chance for viruses and bacteria to sneak in while the immune system is not up to peak performance. Proper food and supplement intake that includes iron, zinc, vitamins A, C, E, and B will help not only refuel muscles, but keep your immunity up. 

Is Nutrient Timing for You?

Should you make a plan for pre and post workout fuel?

Keep your body running as efficiently and effectively as it can with proper nourishment and nutrition. 

If you’re serious about reaching your fitness goals, nutrient timing could give you the extra edge you need to improve your performance and gain strength. When you use your muscles rigorously in a workout, it’s important to remember that repairing and refueling them is key to going that extra mile, lifting that higher weight, or swimming that extra lap. When you learn when and what to eat both pre and post-workout, your body has all the fuel it needs to energize, repair, and strengthen-- and allow you to continue to push your limits.

If nutrient timing sounds like something you’re interested in, talk to your healthcare professional and work up a meal plan that’s right for you. If you put in the time and the work, you’re sure to see the results you want!

@dremilnutrition