Nutrient Timing: When Should You Eat?

 Athletes and lifter alike have been searching for the best times to eat their nutrients, to optimize results. That is why research in nutrient timing is so big. So what is the best time to drink your protein shake and ingest your carbohydrates? There are many questions and variables to consider.

 Here is what some of the research is saying about nutrient timing.

Before Working out

It has been suggested that you should eat protein and carbs before your workouts to help increase your performance. The idea is that your muscle will have plenty of muscle glycogen to pull from throughout the workout. Giving your body ample energy stores to keep you fueled throughout your workout. Ingesting protein is supposed to supply your body with plenty of amino acids to help with muscle growth. The question is, does any of this really help improve your workouts?

Research looking at carbs before exercise show that there was no improvement in training performance with carbs(3). This was also found to be true with protein alone and carbs plus protein (1).

It would seem that your workouts would not be improved with ingesting protein and carbs directly before a bout of exercise.  This is not to say you should not have anything before going to the gym.  It is just saying that it will not increase performance, it is still important to be hydrated and if you like to have a snack before, go for it.

During Workout

            Similar to eating before working out, it is also believe that eating during workouts will help you last longer and be able to perform at your best.

No surprise, the research does not back any of these claims. What is does say is that ingesting carbs during exercise will not help you lift any more and ingesting a protein carb mix does not benefit you but it will not hurt you either (3,4).

What this all means is that for now taking in carbs and protein during exercise will not necessarily help or hurt your progress. Which can be interpreted as there needs to be more research done. It comes down to personal preference, if you want to eat something, then eat something.

Post Workout

            Post workout protein shakes have been a staple for most for years, and for good reason too. This goes for eating carbohydrates post workout as well. By ingesting a carbohydrate protein mix, this will insure that your muscle glycogen stores are filled and ready for your next workout and also increase protein synthesis, which leads to muscle growth. Protein has also been shown to prevent muscle soreness or DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness (2).

Taking in protein and carbs post workout is seen as the best time to take in your nutrients, when your body is low after its bout of exercise. By doing so you will ensure that you are getting the nutrients your body need to build muscle and recover. Leading to better results and a better looking sexier you.

This could be you

This could be you, Hofflicious


            If you did not read the first three sections it’s ok, because I am going to sum every thing up in one sentence.

Taking carbs and protein directly before and during a workout will not increase performance, but post workout eating is essential to muscle health and recovery.


Josh Williams


1.      Baty, J., & Wang, B. (2007). The effect of a carohydrate and protein supplement on resistance exercise performance, hormonal response, and muscle damage. J Strength Cond Res, 21, 321-329.

2.      Jackman, S., & Witard, O. (2010). Branched-chain amino acid ingestion can ameliorate soreness from eccentric exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 42, 962-970.

3.      Kulik, J. R., & Touchberry, C. D. (2008). Supplemental carbohydrate ingestion does not improve performance of high-intensity resistance exercise. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 22(4), 1101-1107.

4.      Stearns, R. L., & Emmanuel, H. (2010). Effects of ingesting protein in combination with carbohydrate during exercise on endurance performance: A systematic review with meta-analysis . Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(8), 2192-2202.



Posted on December 14, 2012, in Nutrition/Eating and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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