Meal timing, carbs before training, protein after, no carbs after 7pm… all the myths, all the theories..
So…does it really doesn’t matter?
Truth is, it depends.
There are clients I would look at meal timing for, and clients who I wouldn’t.
If you are trying to lose weight, you may have to be more intentional with how you space your meals, calories / snacks through the day to avoid extreme hunger, vs someone who is training and eating to gain muscle / size, who doesn’t really need to worry about the nitty gritty.
Before we start, its important to note, general population, looking to drop a smidge of body weight or bodyfat.. heck, even clients wanting to gain muscle / size, I believe our first port of call is to treat the day as a whole, nail your over all calories, nail your individual macro split, and once you have that down and it feels second nature – then yes, you can take things to the next level and look at timing.
Lets look at who’s who in the zoo…
Carbohydrates can be high glycaemic or low glycaemic, high GI foods have a higher carb content, and spike your blood sugar faster than low GI foods. These should be a focus pre workout so your body can use this energy to push harder, lift heavier, run faster.
Examples – Banana, Honey, Pineapple, Whole Grains, Potatoes.
Low GI (volume foods) should be eaten all throughout your day, because you are kept feeling fuller for longer. They are filled with magnesium, calcium and vitamins, and are major players in keeping you fit, healthy and thriving.
Examples – Berries, Leafy Greens, Steamed Greens. Did I mention, greens?
If you are active in general, always on your feet, active at work, using a lot of energy through your day, it can be helpful to eat a combination of both high and low GI foods, either before, or after training – and also during the most active busiest part of your day.
In my opinion, anywhere between 1.6 – 2.2g per kg of bodyweight is “ideal”.
Little less or a little more, you’re still getting all the benefit and there is no risk either way. (NOTE – your weight, level of activity, gender, goals will all play a part in deciding where you sit)
Your protein intake should be steady throughout the day, this means, including protein at most meals, every 3 (ish) hours.
Protein helps your muscles not only build, but recover, and keeps you feeling full. This is why my favourite balanced plate image (posted often on @fika.nutrition) is a fantastic habit to get into. If you can include a lean source of protein even in your main meals alone (Breakfast, lunch and dinner) then you are on the right track.
One other thing to note, did you know that you lose more muscle during sleep than when you are awake? (Muscle rebuilds when you sleep)
This makes eating adequate at protein at night really important, especially if you are super active, and have trained in the afternoon / evening.
When deciphering how much fat to consume, we (coaches) normally look anywhere between 20-35% of total calories, this way we know you’re getting enough fat to optimize hormones and not worry about any health risks.
If calories are controlled, and you are working with a professional (heeeeeeey) you can even increase those numbers without any negative side effects like weight gain.
Fat plays an important role in absorption of vitamins, and minerals (remember the low GI carbs above?) Meaning a consistent intake (in small amounts) throughout the day is a good idea to keep hunger controlled.
Fats are great for curbing hunger, because the also slow the digestion of the above.
Meaning, eating fats prior to a workout, paired with a HIGH GI (refer to above) defeats the point of having the high GI carb prior to training.
Lets break that down..
You want high GI carbs before training because they digest fast, and you will use them to push through your gym session. So, if you pair them with fats, they may not digest in time to be of use to you in your workout / your body may not be able to access that fuel immediately (anything within 45mins)
Biggest point to remember, the only time where I would go light on your fats, is prior to your workout.
To wrap this up, in my opinion for the 80-90% of people out there just looking to lose some body fat or lose weight, the exact timing just doesn’t matter, treating the day as a whole, and having frequent meals matters.
What matters, is having an individualized timing / system around how regular your meals are, so your body is getting enough food as a whole, and getting used to the amount of meals and calories you need to consume each day to meet your goals.
Being aware of timing that is optimum to you and your routine will keep you energised through your day, improve your mood, improve your brain fog, help you be more productive / focus, and, most importantly, help facilitate a fantastic sleep so you can wake, repeat, and go again tomorrow, but its not the be all end all.
Remember, my life and schedule looks extremely different to yours, yours will look very different to your friends, which means if you do go down the route of meal timing, its going to be extremely individualised.
My alarm most days is 5/5.30am, this means my meal timing is going to look very different all day, compared to someone who prefers the sleep in, and stays up later at night.
KEY POINTS TO TAKE AWAY…
1. Space your protein across your entire day, small doses, frequently.
2. Focus on protein after training for recovery.
3. Focus on protein especially at night time / dinner to aid a healthy and better recovery.
4. High GI carbs before training for fast releasing energy.
5. Adding fat to a meal (except pre workout) will slow down the digestion of your food, and help you not only feel more satisfied but keep you full for longer.
6. Low GI vegetables should be in as many meals as possible, and even as snacks between meals, they are lower in calories, so you can eat more, and your portions become larger, therefore, more fulfilling.
If you would like to explore this topic more, click the links below to check out my website / social media, or, hit reply to this email and lets chat!
Stay healthy, drink your water, eat yo vegetables, and.. i’ll see you next Thursday!