Working out may increase your appetite for various foods but knowing when to eat and what to eat is crucial to your health goals. Nutrient timing is a scientific approach to ensure that your body gets the right nutrients at the right time of the day. There are three phases of nutrient timing. Each requires specific nutrient intake according to the workout phases. The three nutrient timing phases are the Energy Phase, Anabolic Phase, and Growth Phase.
The Three Stages of Nutrient Timing
The Energy Phase
The first stage is the Energy Phase which is just before and during the workout. During this time, most of your body is breaking down fuel. Most of your muscle glycogen (the body’s primary fuel) and insulin (blood sugar) is depleted. When you lack these nutrients during the energy phase, you might experience muscle weakness, fatigue, inability to produce more force or to complete more strenuous exercises.
The nutrients you need for the energy phase are proteins and carbohydrates. Pre-exercise intake of a protein-carbs combo is known to aid muscle recovery after exercises. Especially if your aim is muscle gain instead of fat loss, taking more carbs in the middle of your workouts is important.
The Anabolic Phase
The Anabolic Phase is the second stage. This happens within 45 minutes after your workout. During this time, your body is repairing and decreasing inflammation. Within 45 minutes post-exercise, the anabolic (building up) phase requires more carbs. This is to help your body cells absorb more glucose. The process also speeds up the recovery of your muscle glycogen.
You will not get the same favorable results when your carb intake happens 2-4 hours later. Nutrient timing maximizes the results of your workout and yields increased muscle endurance and strength during the anabolic phase.
The Growth Phase
The last phase is the Growth Phase which happens 18-20 hours post-exercise. The goal at this stage is to continue replenishing the muscle glycogen and to maintain the building up process. It is advised to have high-glycemic carbs intake during the remainder of the day up to 2 hours before going to bed.
Higher levels of carbohydrate and protein intake during the growth phase stimulates protein synthesis and glycogen storage. Another great benefit is the release of more serotonin for a more restful night.
Supplement Guides for Nutrient Timing
For the Energy Phase, you need a 4:1 carbohydrate-protein drink. Supplement your drink with leucine, vitamins C and E, sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
For the Anabolic Phase, a 3:1 carbo-protein drink is what you need. Add leucine, vitamins C and E, and glutamine to your drink.
During the first 4 hours of the Growth Phase, you need to take in a 1:5 carbo-protein drink. Snacks like sports drink and energy bar, oatmeal and raisins, whole-grain toast and peanut butter, and nuts and apple are recommended.
Your diet for the rest of the day should include complex carbohydrates with less saturated fats. Examples are eggs, chicken, nuts, seafood, beans, and lean beef.
If you want your workouts to work for you, you need to work on your nutrient timing.