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The Truth about Nutrient Timing

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Nutrient timing is a long-debated topic, with very valid arguments and studies to back up the benefits but its importance to overall body composition still comes into question. We know that pre, intra and post-workout nutrition is extremely beneficial when trying to optimise growth and recovery, but is it really the be all and end all when it comes to making gains? Or is it as simple as hitting an overall macronutrient and caloric number over the span of the day?

Both sides of this argument have validity, while ensuring your body receives the required nutrients at any given time makes a great deal of sense, it also stands true that lifestyle factors and individual adherence may hinder our ability to achieve this for a maintainable length of time.

When attempting to grow and develop our bodies in any way, the main key is sustainability, can you see yourself living this way in seven, ten or even twenty years time? If the answer is no, then your current methods are most likely unsustainable and wont allow you maintain what you have achieved, nor will they allow you to continue progressing over time. This is extremely important to consider when setting up any type of nutritional plan, as we want to create a lifestyle we can enjoy and maintain for years to come.

This measure of sustainability becomes a massive point when discussing how beneficial nutrient timing really is to our overall goals. Looking into the facts, nutrient timing in and of itself can be a brilliant way to maximise your results and ensure every stage of recovery and every potential to grow is optimised. This is stands true for the most part, as we know pre, intra and post workout are the times that our body is most receptive to change and development. Pre-workout is the perfect time to load up on good sources of carbohydrates and protein to fuel you workout and maximise your performance potential. Inta-workout is a great time for us to implement amino acids and potentially simple carbohydrates to increase performance, endurance and recovery potential. Post-workout is arguably one of the most important times to re-fuel and replenish glycogen stores in order to maximise muscle recovery and growth. It is well known that the faster you can replenish your body post-workout, the faster your body can begin the recovery process.

Now we’ve all heard the phrase if you miss that post workout ‘anabolic window’ then you may as well have not worked out. While I stand by the benefits of nutrient timing, this is not quite the case. It has been shown that consuming protein and additionally carbohydrates within 2 hours post-workout can increase the rate of glycogen replenishment by up to 50%, however, if this time is not taken advantage of, it won’t be the end of the world. Muscle protein synthesis is active for 24-48 hours, meaning all the nutrients we take in during this time will go towards recovery and repair of the damaged muscle fibers and while the growth and recovery may not be quite as enhanced through this manner of eating, the truth is, progression and results can still be made.

The importance of nutrient timing is dependent on each individual’s lifestyle, level of adherence and seriousness of training. Will the timing of your nutrients make a slight difference? Yes! Is it essential for progress? Certainly not. The bottom line is, nutrient timing is a great way to maximise your time spent in the gym as it optimises your body’s ability to grow and recover. That being said, it’s not something that will make or break you physique. While it may make that 5% difference to the serious competitive athlete, for the everyday lifter who trains for health, longevity and wellbeing, adopting a more lenient approach to which you focus on hitting your daily caloric goal through good nutrition within each 24-hour period is more than enough to keep you on track and progressing well.

Author Glen George from our Blackburn store in Melbourne.

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