This is the last piece in the series, Develop Your Diet. Meal timing relates to the timing of certain nutrients to maximize dietary results. While macro-nutrients and nutritional sources are looked through a daily lens, meal timing incorporates structuring the right meals at certain times of the day to optimize your diet to its fullest potential.
Let’s look at examples to best illustrate how to properly time meals.
A breakfast low in carbohydrates but high in fats and proteins will expedite fat loss. The body awakens in a catabolic state and requires nutrients to keep it from breaking down muscle tissue as an energy source. Carbohydrates are the easiest to break down, which keeps metabolism from targeting the body’s fat stores. Therefore, consuming fats and protein (more difficult to digest) in the morning with limited carbohydrates allows your metabolism to both use the external nutrients as energy as well as target the body’s fat stores for energy. Essentially, you’re diverting your body to burn its own fat by consuming more slowly digesting fats and protein in the morning. This is a classic example of meal timing.
About 50% of your daily calories should be consumed around your training session, both prior and after. It is during this period that your metabolism is most activated and searching for energy. Your body is looking for easily digestible carbohydrate and protein sources to replenish energy levels and facilitate muscle-protein synthesis, i.e. muscle building. This is a time period during which you want to limit fatty foods and incorporate high-carbohydrate/high-protein foods. Those looking to lose weight should consume only high-protein prior to the workout and protein + carbohydrates after.
Dinnertime/evening meals should be lesser in calories compared to other meals during the day. Metabolic activity slows as the day progresses, and the body less efficiently burns calories toward the evening. Therefore, any meals prior to bedtime should be smaller, lower in carbohydrates and rich in fiber, protein and healthy fats. This combination will allow your body to process the protein overnight, thereby feeding muscle tissue without storing excess calories/carbohydrates as fat prior to bedtime.
These 3 examples demonstrate the importance of meal timing. By strategically planning your meals throughout the day, you optimize your dietary results, whether they include muscle-building, fat loss or both. All of this may seem initially daunting, but if you break down dieting through Develop Your Diet's 3 lenses, it becomes much easier to visualize your plan. Once you plan your daily diet for the week, a pattern develops, and it becomes easier to plan/follow as you habituate to it. Between macro-nutrient tracking, nutritional sustenance and meal timing, you will be well on your way to achieving your ideal physique.
For additional questions related to meal timing, contact the author.