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Nutrient Timing – How Important Is It?

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In the past few months we have worked our way up the nutritional pyramid.  Remember, each level plays a role, but none is more important than the base. Energy Balance (Calories in and Calories Out) is and always will be the most important piece of the puzzle.  So many people hold themselves back because they mistakenly devote too much time and energy to minute details (like supplements and nutrient timing) without addressing Energy Balance. With that being said, I can now step off my soap box and get to this month’s topic; nutrient timing.

What Is Nutrient Timing?
Simply, 'nutrient timing' means eating specific nutrients, in specific amounts, at specific times. Common questions I am asked on this topic include: Does intermittent fasting work? Can I skip breakfast? Can I eat after 8pm? Should I eat 3 big meals or 6 small meals per day? Although it would be beyond the scope of this article to answer each one in detail, the short answer is that you should do what feels best for YOU.  Since everyone differs in schedule and eating preferences, each person can take a slightly different approach.  For some, fasting for part of the day may help them control their calorie intake.  For others this same approach would result in a starving and “hangry” person.  This is why there isn't a “one size fits all” approach to nutrition. 

When Does It Matter?
Beyond personal preference there are a few scenarios when nutrient timing can boost your performance.  For instance, if you train twice in one day or your sessions regularly last longer than 1 hour you should be concerned with nutrient timing.  Here, eating a solid carb and protein source 1 hour before and 1 hour after your training session will allow you to push during your sessions and recover in between.  Another example would be someone preparing for a figure competition.  In order to get down to elite level body fat percentages, nutrient timing can give you the edge to lose that last bit of fat.  For most people just looking to lose body fat and feel better, nutrient timing adds unnecessary complication.

The Bottom Line...
The bottom line is that the TOTAL AMOUNT of calories and macronutrients you eat throughout the day is more important than WHEN you eat them! So you don’t have to rush to chug that protein shake after your workout or worry that a meal past 8pm will kill you!! When calories are in check, you can tailor when you eat to your personal preferences. So if you feel like you are doing everything right, but still aren’t seeing the results you want, then schedule a nutrition consult today! This will give you the chance to bring your focus back to the most important aspects of nutrition while discovering how nutrient timing can work for YOU.

More Information
Is Nutrient Timing Dead? by Brian St. Pierre, Precision Nutrition
Workout Nutrition Illustrated [Infographic] by John Berardi and Brian St. Pierre, Precision Nutrition

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