NUTRITION TUTORIAL: Anytime vs. Pre & Post Workout vs. Nutrient Timing

Nutrient timing can make or break your fat loss efforts. Top athletes have been timing their meals for years knowing that when and what you eat before and after training makes measurable impact on body composition. In addition, eating the proper nutrients throughout the day also aids in muscle retention and growth as well as fat loss. Time everything right with your meal choices and you can make progress like never before. Timing it wrong with the wrong foods leads to stagnation and possibly even regression.

So what is proper nutrient and meal timing?
The general rule for increasing workout performance is nutrient timing. Nutrient timing allows you to ensure your body is properly fueled before and after your workout. Properly timed meals before your workout result in heavier lifts in the gym and better endurance on long runs. Being properly fueled aids you in getting a better workout.

30 minutes to one hour before exercise drink a shake that consists of 20-30 grams of Whey Protein and eat an Banana, Apple, or one cup of Oatmeal. This will give your body the proper amount of fuel to power your workout. I suggest a Protein shake simply because they can be easily mixed while you are still at work or early in the morning when you are rushing around. If you can substitute a real meal in place of the shake go for it as your body prefers real food over any kind of shakes.

Post workout meals eaten within 15 minutes to two hours after exercise aid in recovery. Essentially you give your body exactly what it wants and needs after you hit it hard in the gym. This allows proper recovery and better gains in muscle and fat burn. Again, this should consist of 20-30 grams of Whey Protein along with some form of a more carb dense food such as a potato. Timing this right will allow you to recover faster, reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, and feel better the next workout.

For the rest of your meals go easy on carbs that are not dense in nutrients. An example of a poor choice is white bread. White bread is high in calories and low in nutrition. If you read the label you will see enriched this and enriched that. Why is white bread enriched? Simple, it lost all of its nutrients when it was processed and they are having to add in vitamins to try to bring it back to decent. However, it’s just crap. If you want to eat bread, opt for a whole grain bread such as Jesus bread (Ezekiel) which provides good amounts of Protein, Fiber, and Carbs.

Limiting carb dense foods that do not provide nutrient density throughout the day will turn you in to a fat burning machine. As a rule when you are not working out stay away from foods that are calorically dense and not nutrient dense (white bread). However, eat and substitute any and all the vegetables you want anytime of the day. Vegetables of all colors provide tons of vitamins, fiber, and anti-oxidants. I think this is where the non-carb craze goes bad. Vegetable consumption should be encouraged and never discouraged.

Your Anytime meal should consist of a lean Protein, a nutrient dense vegetable, and a healthy fat (fish provide lean protein along with Fish Oil which is healthy for your heart and aids in fat loss). I also suggest snacking on nuts once per day (about a handful per day). If you can stick to vegetables and drop junk carbs, you are well on your way to losing all the fat you ever wanted. Avoid buttering up the vegetables too, lots of bad carbs and fats.

How do I determine if a food is worth of eating?
As a rule, when deciding on a food to eat I think about how hard it was to convert to its current form. One or two steps from its natural source is fine – anything more than two steps and you shouldn’t be eating it. Take Milk for example, not real hard to figure out how the milk ended up in the jug. The milk comes from the cow and is then pastuerized. Compare Milk to Ritz Crackers – how hard is that? I bet it takes more than a few steps to figure that one out.

You know what junk is, so stop eating what you know isn’t good for you. If it comes in a box or is frozen and takes more than a few steps to create from its original source – you shouldn’t be eating it.

Should I count calories?
I don’t count calories and I don’t know of anyone who is successful at maintaining a healthy bodyweight that does. Sound crazy? Not at all, if you stick to the rules above you will be just fine. Listen to your body, stay away from junk, and eat vegetables at every possible chance. Eat what you know is good and there is no need to count calories. When eating out, all bets are off and try to limit calories from restaurants.

How often should I eat?
Fat burn is increased by eating 4-6 meals per day spaced out evenly. On your Anytime meals be sure to eat lots of vegetables and leave out the processed carbs. I think you will feel better and you won’t miss that spike in blood sugar (drowsiness). 4-6 meals a day also increases your caloric expenditure over the day, thus burning more fat.

Christian Henning, NASM-CPT
Oklahoma City Personal Trainer

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