Is Timing Everything? Thoughts on Timed Nutrition

  2017-08-15 07:40AM
As Crossfitters, most of us are familiar with the concept of nutrient and meal timing. Consuming specific combinations of proteins and carbohydrates in prescribed times around our training has long been accepted as an important part of optimal performance, muscle growth and recovery--if not the most important part. We often find ourselves rushing to get a pre-workout meal or a post-workout recovery drink in, cautious of missing our theoretical windows or not hitting daily goals. So, when it comes to nutrition, is timing really everything? A 2013 meta-analysis by Aragon and Schoenfeld examined just this, looking at studies done over the past 20 years on the subject. What they found may surprise you. After. We do know without question that after an intense exercise session, a main need is to rebuild the glycogen stores that we have just depleted. Science shows that immediately after exercise, conditions in the body are indeed optimal for both glycogen reuptake and storage. Hence, the recommendation for an immediate post workout carbohydrate meal. And there seems to be evidence that adding protein to this meal further enhances glycogen resynthesis in addition to preventing muscle breakdown and enhancing muscular growth. At times, however, science doesnt exactly translate into practice. Studies done to measure things like lean body mass and muscular adaptation in relation to the timing of post exercise meals have been relatively inconclusive. And it turns out that theres yet another piece to this puzzle: What you consumed before your training. Before. The pre-workout meal may affect the importance or timing of the post-workout meal. Most of us, depending on the time of day we train, try to fit in a meal in the hour or two before we start our session. Some studies indicate that a moderate amount of high quality protein taken immediately before training can actually serve as the immediate post-workout meal as well. So that recovery drink you are downing the moment after your WOD ends may be overkill, if youve already fueled up beforehand. So what does all of this mean for us as Crossfitters? For the most part, focus on the big picture: Hit Daily Goals. When it comes to protein, the how much seems much more important than the when. Hit daily goals based on your body weight and lean body mass. In fact, Aragon and Schoenfeld concluded in their analysis that adequate protein in combination with resistance exercise was the key factor to maximizing protein accretion. Not the exact timing. Fuel Up. Dont train on empty. Make sure you arent walking into the gym when youve just rolled out of bed, or after work, on an empty stomach. A little pre-workout meal goes a long way. Your pre- and post-workout meals shouldnt be separated by more than about 3 hours for optimal results. Refuel. Sure, have a quick 2:1-3:1 carb:protein recovery drink or meal after your training ends. If not, relax; if you fueled up properly beforehand, youre likely covered. Follow it up with a real meal in the next few hours, similarly with quality protein and carbs. Your window will still be open for a while.


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