When it comes to our overall health and fitness, it appears that everybody is now all of a sudden a trained nutritionist or fitness expert. Thanks to the internet, people see one page or one comment, and take it as gospel, whether it’s right or wrong. You know the saying ‘if you read it on the internet, then it must be true’ (excuse the sarcasm). The truth is that without hard facts or research to back up their claims, these people have no idea what they’re talking about.
Some people make absurd claims, such as that in order to gain muscle, all you need to do is eat protein, whether you go to the gym or not. Obviously this is nonsense, but somebody tells somebody else, who tells somebody else, and before you know it, there’s an entire blog dedicated to the new “gym-free” way of building muscle by simply eating protein.
One topic which has sparked a heated online debate over the last few years, is that of Nutrient Meal Timing, and whether or not it’s important for anybody looking to build muscle, get in shape or lose weight. In this article, we’ll be looking at this argument from both sides, in a bid to determine whether or not it’s actually as important as people claim it to be.
Firstly, What is Nutrient Meal Timing?
Basically, Nutrient Meal Timing is the act of planning your nutritional intake (meals) at certain times in the day. The reason why you would time your meals is to allegedly get the vital nutrients, which are supplied by food, into the body and muscles quicker, thus making them more your muscles effective.
For example: After we exercise and lift weights, our muscles are sore and damaged on the inside of our bodies. In order for our bodies to rebuild them bigger and stronger, they need nutrients in order to do so. Because of this, many bodybuilders often drink a protein shake immediately after their workouts. This is an attempt to flood nutrients into the muscles to help the body begin repairing itself. However, this doesn’t just work for bodybuilders, hence it also concerns us. The theory for weight loss is that if you eat (or drink then much loved protein shake) within 30 minutes after you exercise, you are delivering the required nutrients to your body which maintains the muscles that you have burnt. Why do we, as woman, want to keep our muscles strong? Because muscles burn more calories at rest, therefore we lose weight with the more muscle we have.
Is Meal Timing Really That Essential?
This is kind of a grey area, but we’ll do our best to make it as clear as we possibly can. After we exercise, glycogen levels in our muscles become depleted and as a result, they need to be replaced asap. Glycogen is a form of energy which the muscles use. As well as this, other nutrients in the muscles have also been used up, and need to be replaced as soon as possible.
The best time to flood the muscles with these nutrients is between 30 and 60 minutes after we work out. Some people call this the ‘anabolic window’. Post workout nutrition is important, and if you want the best results, you should always try to get a post workout shake or meal in as soon as possible after your workout. This fuels the muscles, and kick starts the metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories and lose more weight too.
When Isn’t It Quite As Important?
Some people are convinced that they need to eat meals every three hours throughout the day without fail. We’re not quite sure if they think they’ll suddenly drop 20 pounds of muscle if they’re ten minutes late for their meal, but these people are adamant that they MUST eat every three hours and not a second sooner or later.
To be perfectly honest, this is just not necessary. Yes, eating regularly keeps your metabolism running at its best, and keeps the body and muscles fuelled with nutrients, but if you decide to eat four hours or even two hours after your next meal, it won’t make even the slightest bit of difference. For many people however, it’s simply a psychological matter, and they just will not listen to anybody else.
What Do We Think About Meal Timing?
Sorry to sit on the fence here, but we’re simply going to have to say that neither argument, either the one’s for, or against, are entirely clear. Yes, nutrient meal timing can be beneficial especially immediately after your workout. But you certainly do not need to stick to a regular eating schedule like clockwork, and if you do decide to eat half an hour later than usual, then unless you’re about to step on a bodybuilding stage, absolutely nothing harmful or detrimental will happen to you.
Think about it, do your muscles and food really know what time it is?
Does meal timing mean everything to you? Does consistency and attention to detail appeal to you?