Nutrient timing can make or break even the perfectly constructed gym program. However when we’re surrounded by conflicting information about nutrition and it can become confusing and awash.
There are a few ways to assist with understanding nutrients and timing.
We need 3 macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein & fats.
If you think of your body as a house and protein is the steel and concrete you need to repair your building, carbohydrates are the workers. If you don’t have any labourers, the repairs won’t get done. And fat is the planning permit. Without a planning permit, nothing can go ahead.
-Carbohydrates (eg. vegetables, fruit, grains, milk, yoghurt) provide energy.
-Protein (beans, legumes, tofu and complete in meat) is made up of building blocks called amino acids for repairing the body from training or illness etc.
-Good Fats (nuts, seeds, oily fish) are essential for proper hormonal health. If you aren’t getting enough fat, hormone regulation will be off. If your testosterone is down, if your body’s systems aren’t functioning properly, the energy you are getting from food and sleep won’t go to repairing muscle or injuries. It won’t go to making you stronger, it’ll be spent on trying to rectify your deficiencies.
Using the car analogy can help you to think about energy supply. If you’re feeding your car with poor fuel, loading it up with unnecessary weight in the boot or running the tank empty most of the time, let’s face it, you are not going to be getting the most out of the car. This is why the quality and type of energy or food you consume is important. It also points out that running yourself on empty is just going to make life unnecessarily harder for yourself.
Putting this all together looks like this:
Carbohydrates for energy before your workout.
Protein after your workout for repair.
If your training for longer than 60 minutes (especially vigorous) you will need more carbohydrates post-exercise.
If you are training to build muscle (for size, performance or body fat reduction), don’t expect to see it happen from just eating protein. You have to challenge your muscles with resistance (weight) training for them to break down and repair (build up). You also need more energy (workers) to make this process happen.
Secondly, if you are trying to trim up don’t expect to sustain weight loss if you deplete your carbohydrate stores. Rather than laying off “workers”, get the best ones in to do the job right from the start when they are most efficient (around exercise). Rather than adding in extra food, work your quality meals around your exercise. Eg, banana before your workout and grilled chicken salad with a sprinkle of almonds afterwards.
Final words of advice:
- “Little and often” to keep those hormones and energy levels happy and balanced.
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep.
- Stay hydrated (2L a day) with water & herbal teas (hot or cold)
For more specific and individualized advice on body fat reduction, gaining muscle or sporting performance contact Nutritionist, Eleanor Marshall.