I quite often see claims that nutrient timing doesn’t matter. As long as you meet your target macros by the end of the day then you’re all good. However this is simply not true, nutrient timing is important, even more so for advanced trainees.

I’m a big proponent of timing nutrients around your training. Some may think that you only need protein post workout to spark protein synthesis, but this is a narrow mindset to take. Many factors play into muscle growth, protein synthesis being only one of them.


The Study

In a new study (Dec 2016) they looked at the effects of consuming carbs during / immediately after training.

“Having stable blood sugar levels reduces the body’s stress response, which in turn, moderates any undesirable mobilisation of immune cells. Between 30 and 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour during exercise help to support normal immune function. Examples of carbohydrates include carbohydrate-containing fluids, gels and bars consisting of different carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose. Alternatively, bananas may also do the job.”

For anyone who’s trained for a while, this will be no shock. In layman’s terms when your body has low blood sugar, more of the (misunderstood) hormone Cortisol is required to help mobilise existing nutrient stores in your body. While short pulses of cortisol are required to just be alive, too much can cause growth issues (less protein synthesis and inhibiting mTor), recovery issues and contribute to a whole host of unwanted ailments such as a weakened immune system. The harder/longer you train the more cortisol is released to mobilise the required nutrients.

We can all relate to the stress, agitation and uncontrollable hunger of low blood sugar. 

Bulking or cutting, I personally always consume between 30-100g of carbs during intense workouts. My primary reason for this is improved performance, better pumps and a very noticeable decrease in stress and recovery time.


Practical applications

Experiment with carbohydrates during your workouts and see how your performance and recovery is affected. You will often notice that signs of excessive cortisol such as sweating more, hunger and fatigue will be diminished.


Summary

Gainz happen over periods or weeks, months and years, anything you can do to help keep stress levels and immune function in check should not be overlooked. You have to factor this into your own intense training, if you do not train that often or are not pushing the limits of your recovery, timing of nutrients won’t be as important. However for those wanting to maximise their potential gainz I would recommend keeping nutrient timing in mind. For example if you are eating a lower carb diet, timing these around your workout can make a big difference.

Also bare in mind the more frequently you train, the more important workout nutrition is as your whole body (muscles, joints, immune and nervous system) needs to be ready to go sooner.


Study:

http://jap.physiology.org/content/early/2016/11/28/japplphysiol.00622.2016