Nutrient. Timing is Everything.
There’s a lot of options out there right now that elevate your workout, from protein bars, gels, gums, powders, shakes, and smoothies. It’s overwhelming, but it shouldn’t be. Here’s the quick and dirty about nutrient timing.
Solid food consumed within 90 minutes of exercise cannot be used for fuel; it doesn’t digest in time. Solid food consumed during or immediately after exercise doesn’t digest quickly enough to be used as fuel (for performance or recovery) either. Liquid nutrient sources are best, as they digest and can be used for fuel quickly.
Simple sugars (like Gatorade or Dextrose) and fast acting protein (Whey) are ideal. Whey is more for post workout. Gatorade and Dextrose have insufficient protein content.
Ideal beverages would contain 20-40g of sugar and/or 10-20g of protein per serving. Individuals looking to lose weight should have 1 serving of this type of beverage 20-30
min before exercise. Individuals looking to gain muscle should have this drink BEFORE and immediately after exercise.
During exercise, your body has to divert blood flow away from your digestive organs to your muscles. As a result, only the most basic nutrient sources consumed during and around exercise are digested and used for energy and recovery.
All exercise, as well as your nervous system, uses carbs as the primary energy source to fuel activity. These carbs are stored inside of your muscle (as glycogen). However, glycogen is trapped inside your muscle and can only be used by that particular muscle for energy. Since it can’t use the carbs stored in the muscle, it requires carbs from the blood stream and the liver for fuel. This sugar needs to be replenished often. This is why carbs before exercise helps to improve performance.
In addition to using sugar during exercise as fuel, your body can also breakdown the proteins inside your muscles for fuel. This additional breakdown of muscle tissue adds to the recovery needed from exercise. Muscle proteins can be spared by consuming protein from an external source. This means less breakdown and soreness along with faster recovery.
Nutrient timing may be the best way to elevate your workout if you keep these simple facts in mind before and/or after your workout. Have thoughts to share? Let us know, we’d love to hear your take, success stories, or questions.
Sources: Nutrient Timing: the Future of Sports Nutrition International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing Nutrient Timing Video Lecture