In recent years the topic of nutrient timing has been hotly debated by the Sports Science community. The foundation of essential nutrient timing suggests absorbing blends of nutrients, principally protein, and carbohydrate, throughout strenuous workouts.
The approach is intended to allow the body to maximize bodybuilding muscle adaptations and help in the efficient recovery of weakened tissue.
Many researchers have recently suggested that the timing of greens nutrition concerning exercise can produce significant improvements, specifically when it comes to body composition, in particular fat loss and the realization of athletic potential.
Some researchers have even hypothesized that meals‘ actual timing may be more important than the quality and quantity of daily nutrients required.
The most crucial component in nutrient timing, many believe, is the “post-workout” period. High-intensity training or competing in endurance sports can rapidly deplete the body of essential minerals and amino acids, which subsequently cause damage to muscle and performance.
Consuming the precise proportion of nutrients throughout this time starts rebuilding damaged muscle and repairing energy supplies.
Timing And The Anabolic Window
The “anabolic window of opportunity” is a term I’m sure many are familiar with (1).
This term refers to a short window of time where optimizing muscle adaptations can occur through diet nutrition timing, including the meal’s quality and quantity.
An essential factor to contemplate when it comes to meal nutrient timing is the time of day you undertake your exercise activity. Depending on what time of the day you train will dramatically affect and impact your nutrient timing strategy.
For example, if you work out in the morning, your body probably won’t have enough time to digest food efficiently; in this case, we would highly recommend considering green smoothies as your go-to meal.
They are not only healthy, nutritious, and convenient to make, but the body quickly absorbs the nutrients allowing for a great workout.
Another option for morning workouts is what we refer to as “intermittent fasting.” Many people believe training in a fasted state helps the body burn more fat by tapping into the fat stores from the previous night’s meal.
The type of exercise activity that you’re performing, along with the duration and intensity, will also heavily influence the type of meal you eat.
If you plan on training for periods of longer than an hour, you are susceptible to glycogen depletion and fatigue, either while performing the activity or immediately after.
This is referred to as “bonking” in cycling circles; no, not that type.
Before working out, look to consume ingredients and nutrients that boost and help you sustain a high level of performance throughout the activity. Smoothies here are a great choice, as are some high-quality green meal replacements.
If you’re a person who tends to workout later in the day, then consuming larger meals is an option as the body has time to digest and absorb the nutrients fully. Ideally, it would be best if you ate at least an hour before working out; anything timed later than that may bring on nausea and other stomach discomforts.
But it’s important to remember that several variables can impact the outcome of nutrient timing.
Exercise And Timing Of Greens
As mentioned earlier, the only other time to be mindful of is directly after strenuous exercise.
Exercise puts a great deal of physiological stress on the body, promoting things like inflammation and oxidation. At first look, one would assume that consuming greens immediately after strenuous exercise would be helpful, especially considering the antioxidant benefits they provide.
Exercise dramatically benefits the body using two distinct processes, regeneration and acclimatization. The inflammation and oxidation that transpire due to challenging activities are the body’s conventional function to create permanent transformation.
It becomes tricky because some recent research has shown that overloading the body with large quantities of antioxidants can dramatically decrease the body’s effect to build muscle effectively. Basically, as long as you don’t take greens directly after a workout, you’re good to go.
When you undertake strenuous training, it leads to the generation of composites referred to as R.O.S. or reactive oxygen species; generally, these are deemed dangerous.
In other words, “oxidative stress” can be viewed or thought of as reactive oxygen species. But when it comes to muscle growth, R.O.S. may improve muscle strength and size, and recovery.
Exercise, as we all know, offers many benefits. One of the most significant benefits is elevated insulin sensitivity; however, consuming supplements high in antioxidant properties directly after a workout can dramatically reduce insulin sensitivity.
Ways To Consume Super Greens?
Is there an ideal way to consume my greens supplement?
This is a question that is frequently asked, and again it’s really up to personal preference.
As I mentioned earlier, you can mix greens with a protein shake, which is made up of water; others may combine it with juice or even add a scoop to soups or tea.
I would suggest experimenting with different methods to find which works best for you. Mixing it with soups, especially during the wintertime, is an excellent way to stay healthy and stave off influenza.
Frequency Of Timing And Consumption
An important consideration is when to drink your drinks powder to get the best outcome.
Due to the incredibly nutritious nature of greens powders supplements, particularly high-quality products, one serving per day is generally enough; that being said, there are situations in which an extra scoop or two can benefit.
If you’re continually traveling and in and out of airports and hotels, it’s challenging to get access to clean food; in this case, an extra dose of greens would be ideal.
Another time would be during winter when people tend to be run down due to lack of sunlight, leading to a vitamin D deficiency.
However, always keep in mind that greens supplements are not designed to substitute for a well balanced healthy diet of whole fruits and vegetables.
They are supplemental and are intended to plug any deficiencies you may have.
The Society of Sports Nutrition Key Timing Points
The points listed below are the International Society of Sports Nutrition’s official position and stance regarding exercise and nutrition timing (2).
These points are cutting edge, up to date, and have been objectively and critically peer-reviewed. They cover healthy adults and those who exercise or practice at a high level of performance.
Nutrient timing incorporates systematic preparation and the consumption of healthy and whole foods, including sports supplementation. Specific macro and micronutrients may improve muscle recovery and help support protein synthesis immediately following high-intensity activity.
Following a high carbohydrate diet maximizes the body’s glycogen stores, and following high-intensity training, the stores become depleted (3).
If rapid recovery of glycogen is needed, then you should consider the following strategies:
- Re-feed aggressively with carbohydrates
- Adding caffeine may help
- Look to combine essential nutrients and protein with carbohydrates
When training for extended periods of time, consistent consumption of carbohydrates and fluid intake should be consumed every 10-15 mins throughout the activity’s entirety; adding protein may help if carbohydrates are unavailable as it can support the lessening of muscle atrophy and helps promote the synthesizing process of glycogen.
When undertaking resistance or weight training activities, the consistent consumption of essential nutrients and carbohydrates has been shown to support and maintain high glycogen levels. Combining carbohydrates and protein again helps to lessen adverse effects such as muscle damage.
For those who exercise regularly, consuming essential nutrients and adequate amounts of protein every 3 hours is paramount in maximizing performance potential (4).
Consuming essential amino acids or (E.A.A) either single or combined with a protein powder helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Consuming essential nutrients, either pre or post-workout may serve as a powerful approach that promotes strength and positively affects body composition. However, it can largely depend on the type, duration, and intensity of the activity, along with the size and timing of the meal consumed.
Immediately following strenuous exercise consuming a high-quality protein source and essential organic ingredients, supports muscle growth and recovery.
For those who do not undertake regular exercise, altering the regularity of meals does not positively affect body composition or weight loss. More analysis is required to define the impact of coupling a training program with adjusted meal recurrences on fat loss and body composition.
Contrasted with other dietary patterns, consuming high-quality protein and essential nutrients every 3-4 hours positively affects body composition and performance results.
Coaches, Sports Scientists, Nutritionists, and other health experts pay particular attention to nutrient timing. They are continually researching and studying the effects, if any, that nutrient timing may have on performance.
However, a couple of fundamental factors need to be considered when reviewing research in this field.
- All conclusions encompassing nutrient timing require relevant features due to several important factors such as the participant’s age, training volume, intensity and duration, and time between activities. All of these factors can significantly impact the effectiveness of nutrient timing and the role it may play in boosting athletic performance.
- Almost all analysis on this subject demands additional examination. However, put simply, nutrient timing is a strategy that may help improve rehabilitation, help to promote muscle protein synthesis, and allow the body to adapt to a plethora of training environments.
The above information is essential to consider as the vast majority of research and studies undertaken in this field do not meet statistical thresholds. Unfortunately, this leaves readers in the unenviable position of trying to decipher fact from fiction.
Another critical point to make is that we’re all different, and what works for some won’t work for others. If you find a nutritional timing strategy with the correct dosage that works and you can stick with it, then it’s definitely worth pursuing it.
Finally, those that have performed at the highest levels of the sport, understand, that even the smallest improvements can have massive effects on performance outcomes.
As such, nutritionists, dieticians, and coaches should seriously consider incorporating nutrient timing into athlete training programs.