How Nutrient Timing Affects Athletic Performance

Take advantage of nutrient timing to boost your workouts and reach your health goals.

Athletes have a lot of advice to keep in mind to make the most of their workout. What time is best to exercise? How many times a week you should exercise? What nutrition is best for your goals? The list seems endless. Often on that list is the concept of nutrient timing—eating particular foods at the right time to make the best use of their nutritional benefits in conjunction with your physical activity.

It may sound like pseudo-science, but there is a rationale to nutrient timing. It has to do with restoring your glucose and helping to restore your muscles post-workout. By taking into account your workout and planning your meals around it, you can make the most of the nutrition you consume and maximize your potential energy levels for recovery and future workouts.

Timing carbs, protein and fats

Nutrient Timing

Carbohydrates are digested very quickly compared to fats and proteins. They can be absorbed within 30 minutes of being consumed, causing a quick spike of insulin and energy. How quickly exactly the carbohydrate breaks down depends on what kind of food it is - whole wheats will digest slower than white bread, for example. Veggies loaded with healthy fibers will digest slower than a donut. You don't want a sudden rush—slower is generally better—so go for the slower-digesting foods which usually have more nutrients anyway. Excess carbohydrates will be turned into fat, so you generally don't want to consume more carbohydrates than your activity level calls for, particularly if you're interested in weight loss.

Unlike carbohydrates, proteins digest over two or three hours. Protein is made of amino acids that help restore muscle breakdown after a workout, allowing you to grow your muscles over time. Protein leaves you feeling fuller longer since it takes longer to digest. Fat can take up to six hours or more to digest, which means it will sustain you for the longest amount of time. Both are important for a healthy diet, although fats should be healthy fats; avoid trans fat and saturated fats, which can negatively affect your cholesterol and blood pressure.

How to schedule your meals

Since carbohydrates are digested quickly, nutrient timing suggests eating a source of carbs right after a workout, within a half hour if possible. Proteins, on the other hand, take multiple hours to digest, which means for maximum impact you should consume something with protein two hours before a workout for it to repair your muscles post-workout.

But protein and carbohydrates work best in conjunction. You can eat something rich in protein two hours before a workout, snack on a small slow-digestion carbohydrate snack (say, some roasted squash), then eat a protein and carbohydrate combination for your post-workout meal. After a workout, you can eat faster-digesting carbohydrates like potatoes or figs. Your combined pre- and post-workout meals should contain 20-30 grams of protein. If you want to lose weight without gambling on the results using SCR888, your carbohydrate to protein ratio should be 1:1 or 2:1, so you should consume between 30 and 60 grams of carbohydrates. If you're trying to gain weight, go for a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio instead, eating 90-120 grams of carbohydrates pre- and post-workout.

Fat shouldn't be consumed during workouts. Because it's so difficult to digest, fat in your stomach during a workout can leave you fatigued and your body strained between providing energy to workout and digesting your meal. Leave fats for several hours before or after your workout, although be sure to eat about 30 grams, the same as your protein consumption.

Nutrient timing makes the most of the food you eat to help build up your muscles and use the energy you consume efficiently. Take advantage of it to boost your workouts and your health goals.