Nutrient Timing

| July 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Ins and Outs of Fueling for Activity

“You are what you eat,” is a common saying in the fitness industry. But, when it comes to optimizing the nutrients you put into your body, when you eat can be a significant factor to your body’s performance and energy levels. By using a concept known as Nutrient Timing, you can fine tune your body’s performance, recovery and metabolism by being deliberate with when and what you eat as it relates to your daily activity.

Nutrient timing requires a slightly different mindset than just following a typical diet or striving to eat healthy. The best way to describe it is fueling up properly for your day and adopting the concept that food is your fuel. Essentially, you’re going to eat to recover, increase metabolism and energize your body so it’s prepared to perform an activity.

Rise, Shine, Fuel for the Day
It can be easy to skip breakfast as you’re running around the house getting yourself and your family ready for the day. But, if you don’t take time to fuel your tank with a healthy, well-balanced meal before you head out the door, your body will soon crash and burn before you’re halfway through your day. After sleeping for seven or eight hours during the night, your body wakes up nutritionally deficient, making breakfast the most important meal and part of your day, especially if you’re working out regularly or training for an athletic event.

Start your day out nutritionally strong by eating a mix of complex carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats so you’ll have the energy to perform your best day-in and day-out. Oatmeal and eggs are typical breakfast staples, but shift your mindset of what meals are “supposed” to look like and instead focus on consuming the nutrients you need to succeed.

Carbo Load to Fuel Your Workouts
When you start looking at the specifics of nutrient timing, you will find that carbohydrates are the most important food group to focus on, especially as it relates to preparing for your workout and fueling during your activity. Carbohydrates are essentially the easiest form of energy for your body. When you’re getting ready to do a strenuous workout or activity, you need to fuel to increase your energy levels and carbs are typically your best bet for energizing your body.

All carbs, however, aren’t treated equally. This food group is broken down into two categories – simple and complex. Simple carbs are quickly absorbed and are used for a quick spike in energy. These carbs, such as fruit, gels and endurance jelly beans, should be eaten during your activity or workout to keep you going and to ensure that you don’t hit a wall before the end of your activity. Complex carbs should be used for maintaining energy levels for a longer period of time. When you hear about athletes “carbo loading” before a marathon, it means that they are eating complex carbs the night before and for breakfast on the day of their event.

Recover with Appropriate Amounts of Protein
Protein plays an important role in nutrient timing too, especially as it relates to recovering after vigorous activity. You need to eat an adequate amount of protein throughout the day, but you need to eat more protein post-workout and within a short timeframe of finishing your activity. It’s important to note, though, that your body is only able to absorb so much protein at once. So, you shouldn’t fuel up with a 50-gram protein meal or shake after a workout because your body won’t be able to absorb all of that protein. Almost half of that much protein will end up turning into fat and waste, making it imperative for the consumption of protein to happen over the course of more frequent, smaller portion meals.

Protein is extremely important for building muscle or leaning out. Someone who is looking at building lean mass will need to eat more protein post-workout versus someone who is doing an intense endurance workout will need to eat more food (well-balanced mix of protein and complex carbs) prior to their workout.

Smaller Meals More Often is Better When It Comes to Daily Meal Planning
Breaking out your meals into smaller portions, but with higher frequency, can help you get the most out of the food you eat. The more times you eat throughout the day, the more energy and longevity you’re going to have from sun up to sun down. If you prime your engine early and feed it regularly, your body will be in the best shape to perform at the level you need.

Also, a vegetarian is going to have different dietary needs than a person who follows a more omnivore/carnivore diet. If you eat a huge salad for lunch, that’s great for filling you up, but you’re going to have to eat sooner – within 60-90 minutes – than someone who eats steak for lunch, which should fill you up for a longer period of time.

The exact timing of your meals throughout your day is different for everyone as each person has different goals, body composition and activity levels. When you make the mental shift, though, of seeing food as fuel and understanding the importance of fueling up your body for proper performance, recovery and metabolism levels, you can begin taking a dynamic approach to nutrition and exercise.

Fitness Together Mission Hills offers personal training with qualified professionals by regular appointment in private suites. Exercise and nutritional programs are custom designed to fit your needs and abilities. Call (619) 794-0014 for more information or to schedule a free fitness diagnostic and private training session. See what others are saying about us on Yelp and San Diego City Search.

Category: Health & Fitness

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