Nutrient timing refers to having specific macronutrients around your training with the aim of optimising your performance and recovery. For the elite athlete, it can be very important to give you the competitive edge over other athletes. However, for the everyday gym goer, or amateur athlete, it may not be something to look into until you have other parts of your lifestyle and diet down pat.
Now, let's go over the fundamentals of a good diet and lifestyle first, and ensure we have compliance and adherence to these before looking at nutrient timing. One of the most important factors for a healthy lifestyle is having enough sleep in quantity and quality, as well as looking at your recovery times and stress levels. Next, we’d recommend having adequate water and hydration to ensure that you can recover optimally. Next would be looking at good quality foods and ensuring that you're having enough to support your training and not over restricting yourself to the point of depriving yourself of certain macronutrients of all food groups. Then adding in some training, specifically resistance training and some high intensity training to optimally stimulate muscle synthesis.
Once you’re compliant and adherent to a lifestyle and routine that encompasses these fundamentals, then you may want to look into nutrient timing.
One of the most beneficial nutrients to be looking at pre workout is a high GI (glycaemic index) carbohydrate source. This is to give you enough energy pre-workout so you can get through the session. This could easily be a piece of fruit or a smoothie depending on the intensity of the session. This can be easily consumed in the 30-minute window prior to your workout.
Post workout we’re looking to replenish the glycogen that we used in the session, which is predominantly via carbohydrate foods again, and adding in some protein here to help with muscle recovery and synthesis. If you're training just prior to a main meal, such as breakfast or dinner, then this would be perfect to have in the one hour post training. Having some good quality protein and complex carbohydrates to optimally fuel your muscles will help with replenishing your body post workout. If you’re not having a main meal in the next hour post training, then you may like to have a snack in the interim to help you get until your next meal, which may look like a simple protein bar, protein shake, yoghurt and berries or tuna and crackers. Items such as this can be easily carried in your car or in your gym bag on the way home.
Once consistent with some fundamental strategies, you’ll start to see results. Top it off by adding some simple nutrient timing strategies around your training routine and you’ll be adequately fuelling your body and allowing it to recover optimally for progression over time. For more nutrition tips, please visit our blog.