Determining when to eat is just as important as deciding what to eat for both weight loss and athletic performance, yet its importance is often overlooked.
Nutrient timing is a strategy typically used by athletes, relating to the timing of food and supplement consumption. The result from exercise will depend on the type of exercise performed, weight training versus endurance training, for example, but the quality of the exercise session will likely be determined by the timing of nutrients.
A new position stand by the International Society for Sports Nutrition, or ISSN, examines this concept in depth. The authors define nutrient timing as “the purposeful ingestion of all types of nutrients at various times throughout the day to favorably impact the adaptive response to acute and chronic exercise.” Historically, research has focused on the timing of carbohydrate as it relates to exercise performance; however, the updated position stand includes protein timing as a key factor as well.
The key to pre-exercise nutrient timing of carbohydrate is to maximize glycogen stores to perform at peak levels throughout the exercise bout. Glycogen is the body’s primary source of fuel during exercise sessions lasting more than a few minutes and is derived from the digestion of carbohydrates. Current carbohydrate recommendations stand at 5-12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per day, with athletes training at moderate to high intensities ingesting 8-10 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.
For those exercise sessions that are longer than 60 minutes, supplementing with 30-60 grams of carbohydrate every 15 minutes can have a beneficial effect on performance. The ingestion of carbohydrate can prevent the glycogen stores from becoming depleted, thus decreasing fatigue and increasing time to exhaustion.
Additionally, post-exercise carbohydrate ingestion is necessary to replenish glycogen stores depleted during activity. This is particularly important if there’s little time to recover between exercise events. The priority of post-exercise nutrient supplementation should be glycogen restoration specifically in those instances.
The ISSN suggests that the timing of protein is not as crucial when looked at in terms of pre-, during, and post exercise. What is important, however, is the regular ingestion of protein throughout the day. Recommendations currently suggest that 20-40 grams of protein every three to four hours is most effective in meeting the daily intake of protein as well as maximizing muscle protein synthesis for exercising individuals.
In addition, those who do not exercise regularly may still benefit from regular ingestion of protein, 20-40 grams every three to four hours, like that of exercising individuals. This strategy of meal timing may improve appetite and satiety during weight loss while also aiding in body fat loss and maintenance of lean mass.
Finally, supplementation with protein 30-60 minutes prior to sleep is thought to aid muscle protein synthesis and metabolic rates throughout the night. As long as total calories ingested are accounted for in a daily meal plan, pre-sleep protein is one way to support weight loss efforts through quality nutrition and a restful night’s sleep.
“The long-standing emphasis on the timing of carbohydrate feeding before, during and after exercise is well established and continues to play a significant role in exercise performance,” says Paul Arciero, Ph.D., co-author on the ISSN Nutrient Timing Position Stand and Isagenix Scientific Advisory Board member who has performed extensive research on the topic of nutrient timing. “However, current research from my lab, as well as others, has established the benefits of protein pacing throughout the day to enhance body composition and energy metabolism, as well as augment physical performance outcomes associated with high-quality exercise training routines. Thus, protein pacing is here to stay for the long term and should be the foundation of everyone’s nutrition plan, regardless of age, fitness level and dietary preferences.”
This protein pacing timing strategy is perfect for Isagenix product users. IsaLean® Shake, IsaLean PRO Shake, IsaLean Bars, AMPED™ Protein Bars, and IsaPro® are all sources of high-quality protein that fit well within a healthy lifestyle that includes nutrient timing along with protein pacing for maximum results.
Kersick CM, Arent S, Schoenfeld BJ, et al., International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Aug 29; 14:33. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4.