The Importance of Nutrient Timing and Your Fitness


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What you eat and when you eat determine the type of body you have.

When it comes to getting in shape, what you eat and when you decide to eat those food matters in reaching the body shape you desire.  The timing of your nutrient intake can make or break any weight loss or muscle building goal you set for yourself. 

While the food pyramid breaks down what is a balanced diet , it does not cover the timing of your food intake. There are few crucial rules that apply to protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake that you need to follow if you want to maximize your efforts in getting physically fit.

[spoiler title=”tl;dr – click to read summary” style=”fancy”] Do not eat complex carbohydrates before you go to bed because it will most likely be stored partially as body fat. Make sure you have protein intake during every meal to develop and maintain lean muscle tissues. [/spoiler]

The Importance of Carbohydrate Timing

The timing of your carbohydrates intake and the type of carbohydrates you consume throughout the day is very important. There are 2 different types of carbohydrates that you need for an active lifestyle. The first one is the complex or slow digesting carbohydrate and the second one is the fast digesting carbohydrate which is referred to as simple sugar.

Importance of arbohydrates

The Best Time to Consume Complex Carbohydrates

  • during breakfast
  • lunch
  • two to three hours before your workout sessions

Some of the Best Complex Carbohydrate Sources

  • sweet potatoes
  • legumes
  • brown rice
  • whole grain pasta
  • whole wheat bread and quinoa

Complex Carbohydrates Benefits

  • digested very slowly
  • keep your insulin level
  • long-term source for energy
  • important to consume if you are aiming for building lean muscles 
  • increase your energy levels throughout the day

If your goal is to lose weight and body fat, you should avoid consuming complex carbohydrates late at night. Complex carbohydrates are stored in your body to be used at a later time for energy. So if you are eating a large portion of complex carbohydrates before you to go bed, they are likely to be stored partially as body fat.

After a strenuous resistance workout, your body needs fast digesting carbohydrates to restore your muscle glycogen level which you lost during the workout. This is because your glycogen levels become depleted during a strenuous workout and in order for your body to put back at a normal level your glycogen, you body needs fast digesting carbohydrates such as simple sugars.

This means that you can enjoy fresh fruit, or even a sugar based drink after a strenuous workout. However, it is best that you avoid these sugars at all other times of the day if you are aiming for a lean physique.

The Importance of Protein Timing

Best Sources of Protein

Protein is a critical part to your diet and exercise regimen. The amino acids in protein are your body’s building blocks in developing and maintaining lean muscle tissues. Consuming consistent protein throughout the day is actually a fantastic way to lose body fat as well. This is because your protein intake builds your muscle tissues as you go on your daily physical activities.

A Rule of Thumb

  1. To have at least 3 meals per day which contains at least 20 grams of protein.
  2. Consume at least 0.5 grams of protein for every pound you weight to maintain lean muscle mass.
  3. Consume 1 gram of protein for every pound of your body weight if you are a strength building athlete or someone who is trying to build or maintain lean muscle mass.

Some of the Best Lean Protein Sources 

  • chicken
  • turkey
  • fish
  • beans
  • soy
  • pork
  • beef

It is important to get a wide variety of protein sources throughout the week as each of them has different vitamin and mineral contents. After you finish a strenuous physical activity, it is important to consume a fast digesting protein which you can get from whey or soy protein powder which are really easy to digest.

When protein is easily digested, it immediately get absorbed by your body and then it repairs your muscle tissues that were put under stress during your physical activity.

The Importance of Healthy Fat Timing

Healthy fats are important part of your diet and consuming the right kinds of fats can actually help you lose weight.

Healthy Fat Sources

 You need to consume:

  •  20-30 percent of your calorie intake from a healthy fat source.

Healthy fats are high in omega fatty acids which are crucial for optimal health and bodily functions. You should consume small portions of healthy fats at every meal.

Some of the Best Sources of Healthy Fats

  • peanuts
  • almonds
  • pecans
  • pistachios
  • peanut butter
  • almond butter
  • salmon
  • tilapia
  • olive oil
  • macadamia oil
  • canola oil
  • avocado