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It seems like a new diet plan comes out at least every day, if not more often. Every time you open a magazine or website you are likely to read about how a model or celebrity lost an amazing amount of weight through a seemingly crazy diet, which prompts just about everyone to dissect the diet plan, follow it or both. This time, it seems like the new hot diet is a ‘nutrient timing’.
Nutrient timing goes one step further than calorie counting. Timing your nutrient means quite simply to plan your meals according to the nutrients that are in them and how the body handles such nutrients at that specific time of day.
This kind of diet aims at improving your health and helping you get lean, obviously, but it is especially good for improving workout performance, as it bases your diet plan on your exercise schedule.
To be fair, nutrient timing works with some basic principles that are in the area of common sense, such as eating regularly — every three to four hours — because that’s the most that nutrients last and your blood sugar drops drastically after that point, leading you to overcompensate in the next meal.
Another principle that comes straight from common sense is to eat more in the first meals of the day such as breakfast, morning snacks and lunch. It helps you control appetite throughout the day, lowers your chances of overeating at night and promotes a better use of the nutrients you ingest, allowing for greater fat loss and muscle development.
More specific rules of nutrient timing include eating the same amount of protein in every meal and timing your carb intake according to your workouts, taking advantage of the famous anabolic window.
The idea behind eating the same amount of protein at each and every meal is that it helps build lean muscles, increase satiety levels and avoid cravings and unnecessary eating at the later part of the day. However, protein is said to be especially important after exercise since it helps rebuild your muscles and keep them lean, which is why trainers and sports coaches tend to recommend high protein shakes, meals and snacks post-workout.
Now, the actual timing part of this diet focuses, like most popular diets, on your carb intake. Carbohydrates are responsible for providing your body with energy, so it is important to eat a good portion of these nutrients before and after workouts in order to achieve optimum performance. This is especially true for people who work out in the morning, as their reserves have been used for basic functions during the night.
The timing of your post workout meals isn’t as important as what is in them. While having a smoothie right after the gym can make you feel more energized, what you should do is make sure to include both protein and carbohydrates in your next meal to enhance your recovery. If you could time your meals perfectly one hour before and after exercising, that would be another advantage.