Using Nutrient Timing to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

January 13, 2012

Must See Nutrition Videos

If you want to build muscle, lose fat and maximize your performance, you have to know what to eat—and when to eat it. Called nutrient timing, this involves eating specific types of foods when your body is best able to use its nutrients.

The science behind nutrient timing comes down to hormones. Hormones are responsible for muscle growth, bone growth and fat loss, among other bodily functions, and the key hormone in nutrient timing is insulin.

According to Dr. John Berardi, founder of Precision Nutrition, insulin is a storage hormone because it is responsible for feeding carbs, amino acids and fat into the body's cells. Insulin has the capability to increase fat cells' storage to the same extent as it does with muscle.2

The body releases insulin after eating carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates such as white potatoes, white bread and fruits cause a bigger insulin spike than do complex carbohydrates such as oats, pastas and vegetables. As few as 250 calories of carbohydrates can spike insulin.3

After a weight training session, your muscles are running on empty. Carbohydrates consumed post-workout are used to replenish this energy supply, which means there isn't much left over to store in fat cells. This means the best time to spike your insulin is after a workout, when muscles readily take in nutrients for repair.4

In contrast, on rest and non-training days, there's no need to store nutrients because nothing is lost. Knowing this, here are general rules for nutrient timing to build muscle and lose fat.

Nutrient Timing Rules

Training Days

Consume higher carbohydrate, higher protein and lower fat. Keep total carbohydrate intake around 1.0 to 2.0 grams per pound of bodyweight. For example, a 200-pound person should intake 200 to 400 grams of carbohydrates.

Rest Days

Take in higher fat, higher protein and lower carbohydrate. Main carbohydrate intake should come from trace sources such as cruciferous vegetables and nuts, totaling around 0.5 grams per pound. A 200-pound person should intake 100 grams of carbohydrates.

Fat Loss

On average, consume lower insulin levels. Your main source of carbohydrate should come post-workout. To lose weight by cutting calories, try this formula for total caloric intake: (Bodyweight x 16) x .8 = Daily Calories

Muscle Gain

Take in higher insulin levels throughout the day. Here's a recommended formula for total caloric intake: (Bodyweight x 16) x 1.2 = Daily Calories

Gaining Muscle and Losing Fat

Prompt higher insulin levels after a workout and lower insulin levels at all other times. Follow the muscle gain recommendations on high intensity workout days, and the fat loss recommendations on rest days.

Good carbohydrate sources on training days are pastas, rices, potatoes, oats, fruits and other wholesome, natural foods. Eat lean proteins such as turkey, chicken, whey protein and milk. On rest days, stick to vegetables of all types, meats, cheeses and nut butters. Also, a general rule is to get one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.

Those wanting to lose fat should limit carbohydrate consumption to immediately post-workout. Those looking to gain muscle should eat more carbohydrates all day to take advantage of the anabolic effect of insulin (meaning it stimulates growth). And those looking to both build muscle and lose fat with nutrient timing should settle somewhere in between, consuming copious carbohydrates post-workout to repair and refuel the body.

Sources:

1) Ludwig DS, et al. "High glycemic index foods, overeating, and obesity." Pediatrics 1999 Mar;103(3):E2.

2) Lee ZS, et al. "Plasma insulin, growth hormone, cortisol, and central obesity among young Chinese type 2 diabetic patients." Diabetes Care 1999 Sep;22(9):1450-7.

3) Holt S, Miller J, Petoc P. An insulin index of foods:the insulin demand generated by 1000-kJ portions of common foods. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1997;(66):1264-76.

4) Thomas DE, et al. "Carbohydrate feeding before exercise: effect of glycemic index." International Journal of Sports Medicine 1991 Apr;12(2):180-6.

Anthony Mychal is a writer, athlete consultant, teacher and coach. He has a B.S. in health and physical activity and an M.S. in health and physical education; and he studied under James Smith and Buddy Morris at the University of Pittsburgh. In his free time, he publishes a blog with his musings on athletic preparation at anthonymychal.com.

Anthony Mychal
- Anthony Mychal is a writer, athlete consultant, teacher and coach. He has a M.S. in health and physical education, a B.S. in health and physical...
Anthony Mychal
- Anthony Mychal is a writer, athlete consultant, teacher and coach. He has a M.S. in health and physical education, a B.S. in health and physical...
Must See
Dashon Goldson: Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 6,238,180
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,213,547
Brandon Jennings: Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 5,477,346

Featured Videos

James Harden Resisted Euro-Step James Harden Resisted Euro-Step Views: 27,251
Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 22,312
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,074
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,332,792
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,498,870
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,228,339
Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling
Views: 1,174,469
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 890,413

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
High-Protein Snacks for Athletes With Nut Allergies

High-Protein Snacks for Athletes With Nut Allergies

High Protein Snacks for People with Nut Allergies Protein is an important part of an athlete's day. They help rebuild and repair muscles, fuel workouts,...

Feed for Speed: 5 Foods and Supplements That Make You Faster

Feed for Speed: 5 Foods and Supplements That Make You Faster

The Nutrition That Powers Joe Thomas's Iron-Man Streak

The Nutrition That Powers Joe Thomas's Iron-Man Streak

Performance-Boosting Snacks with a Satisfying Crunch

Performance-Boosting Snacks with a Satisfying Crunch

Why Are People Drinking Charcoal?

Why Are People Drinking Charcoal?

How to Build a Meal Plan to Suit Your Body Type

How to Build a Meal Plan to Suit Your Body Type

J.J. Watt Eats More for Breakfast than You Eat in a Week

J.J. Watt Eats More for Breakfast than You Eat in a Week

Simple Nutrition Tips for Faster Workout Gains

Simple Nutrition Tips for Faster Workout Gains

How Can Zero-Calorie Diet Soda Be Bad for You?

How Can Zero-Calorie Diet Soda Be Bad for You?

Halftime Snacks for Quick Refueling

Halftime Snacks for Quick Refueling

Why Your Gut Might Be the Most Important Part of Your Body

Why Your Gut Might Be the Most Important Part of Your Body

The Soccer Tournament Nutrition Checklist

The Soccer Tournament Nutrition Checklist

4 Endomorph Diet Strategies to Accelerate Fat Loss

4 Endomorph Diet Strategies to Accelerate Fat Loss

STACK Simple Cooking for Young Athletes: How to Cook Eggs

STACK Simple Cooking for Young Athletes: How to Cook Eggs

The Healthiest Ways to Prepare Your Vegetables

The Healthiest Ways to Prepare Your Vegetables

Eat Like a Champion, Part 3: Post-Workout Nutrition

Eat Like a Champion, Part 3: Post-Workout Nutrition

Are 'Healthy Chips' Really Healthy? 5 Popular Options Examined

Are 'Healthy Chips' Really Healthy? 5 Popular Options Examined

Types of Yogurt: What's New and What's Best for Athletes

Types of Yogurt: What's New and What's Best for Athletes

Is It Okay to Eat the Same Thing Every Day?

Is It Okay to Eat the Same Thing Every Day?

The Right Way to Gain Weight During the Off-Season

The Right Way to Gain Weight During the Off-Season

How 100 Pro Athletes Like Their Eggs

How 100 Pro Athletes Like Their Eggs

Game-Day Nutrition for Soccer Players

Game-Day Nutrition for Soccer Players

Quick On-the-Go Breakfast Ideas

Quick On-the-Go Breakfast Ideas

How to Stay Hydrated With Food During Your Summer Runs

How to Stay Hydrated With Food During Your Summer Runs

Surprising Muscle-Building Snacks

Surprising Muscle-Building Snacks

8 Recovery Foods Recommended by Sport Dietitians

8 Recovery Foods Recommended by Sport Dietitians

Why Every Athlete Should Drink Tea

Why Every Athlete Should Drink Tea

Why Chicken Soup Strengthens Your Immune System

Why Chicken Soup Strengthens Your Immune System

Fuel Your Performance with Peas

Fuel Your Performance with Peas

5 Changes Fast-Food Restaurants Are Making to Become Healthier

5 Changes Fast-Food Restaurants Are Making to Become Healthier

How and Why to Eat Mindfully

How and Why to Eat Mindfully

Should You Drink a Protein Shake Before Bed?

Should You Drink a Protein Shake Before Bed?

12 Grab-and-Go High Protein Snacks

12 Grab-and-Go High Protein Snacks

Bone Broth Breakdown: Should You Eat This 'Super' Soup'?

Bone Broth Breakdown: Should You Eat This 'Super' Soup'?

Are Chokeberries the Next Super Food for Athletes?

Are Chokeberries the Next Super Food for Athletes?

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Pizzeria Menu

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Pizzeria Menu

Fuel Up for Soccer Like the U.S. Women's National Team

Fuel Up for Soccer Like the U.S. Women's National Team

Big Breakfast, Small Breakfast, No Breakfast: Which Is Best?

Big Breakfast, Small Breakfast, No Breakfast: Which Is Best?

YardBarker