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3 Most Important Nutrition Times

Author: Rudy Mawer Contributing Author

Nutrient timing has been a key component of sports nutrition for several decades. Research continues to show improvements in muscle growth, fat loss, and recovery when specific attention is paid to timing foods at certain times of the day.

While your total daily intake is still important, being aware of and taking advantage of some key nutrient windows can maximize your results. From the time you rise in the morning, to the meals around your workouts, you can maximize your progress by giving your body what it needs most.

7am: Breakfast

The saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day has been thoroughly proven. In recent years there has been some impressive research showing that breakfast can be a key factor in weight loss and muscle growth, with other data showing it can even set up your metabolism for the entire day ahead.

Firstly, breakfast is key for anyone striving to optimize muscle mass as it re-stimulates protein synthesis, the key mechanism for adding new muscle mass. After fasting while you’re asleep, your anabolic machinery is low and the body goes into a catabolic state, meaning it breaks down muscle for new amino acids. Consuming a high protein breakfast can halt muscle breakdown and re-stimulate protein synthesis.

Image 1 (below) demonstrates the swings in muscle protein synthesis as you go from fasted states to following training and meals. Eating breakfast upon waking will help spark protein synthesis as shown with the fed gain peaks. 

Source: Burd, N. A., Tang, J. E., Moore, D. R., & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Exercise training and protein metabolism: influences of contraction, protein intake, and sex-based differences. Journal of Applied Physiology106(5), 1692-1701.

When you prepare your breakfast, ensure it is high in protein and key amino acids, ideally containing a form of egg, meat, fish, or dairy. Here are some meal ideas to start your day:

- 4 egg omelet with cheese and veggies

- 3 scrambled eggs with 2 lean sausages

- 4 egg whites, 1 scoop RE-KAGED, sweetener, 30g oat flour or similar (mix and cook into pancakes)

3pm: Pre-Workout

The pre-workout window is the next key timing consideration you should focus on. While post-workout nutrition tends to receive the most attention, pre-workout is equally important as it affects your performance within the training session, along with the gains you make after the session.

Without the right nutritional and supplement strategy, you could be losing out on some serious benefits, including:

- Improved performance including strength, power, sprints, and endurance

- Greater muscle growth compared to training without a good supplement and diet regime

- Improved recovery and reduced muscle soreness

- Greater energy, focus, and motivation

Unlike breakfast, both whole foods, as well as supplements, play a key role in this window. If you really want to maximize performance, fat loss, or muscle growth you should utilize food and supplements. Some of the key supplements you should consider pre-workout include: 

- Creatine to enhance the work capability of your body for longer, stronger training sessions

- Caffeine for an energy boost

- Betaine promotes protein synthesis

- Beta-Alanine to positively improve muscular activity during high-intensity sessions

- Citrulline to transport oxygen and nutrient delivery throughout the body

- BCAA to support protein synthesis

- Whey protein if you were unable to eat a complete meal with protein

The majority of these ingredients can be found in Pre-Kaged, making it a comprehensive pre-workout product. These supplements should be taken roughly 30-45 minutes pre-workout, mixed into 16oz of fluid.

Along with supplementation, your food intake is also key to providing high-quality protein and fuel for the workout. Digestion rates vary between individuals, but you should consume an easily digested meal roughly 60 – 120 minutes before hitting the gym. This can contain a high-quality protein source such as 6oz of meat or fish, along with some easily digested carbs such as rice. 

5pm: Post-Workout

Shortly after the gym, you want to initiate the rebuilding process with a good post-workout meal.

Much like the pre-workout window, studies have proven that by optimizing this time period with the proper nutrients can lead to increased muscle growth compared to a lack of post-workout nutrition. It can also reduce muscle soreness, allowing you to recover faster and train harder the next day. 

The supplement regime here is fairly simple, with the largest part being focused on fast digesting protein to help repair your muscles as quickly as possible. To achieve this, you should consume at least 25-30g of whey protein. A high-quality product will ensure it has the right amount of amino acids, specifically BCAAs and leucine, which help support protein synthesis and recovery.

In addition to whey protein, you may also choose to add creatine here (if you did not take it pre-workout) along with glutamine, another key amino acid which becomes heavily depleted during your training session. Using Re-Kaged provides the perfect blend of these nutrients for this post-workout window.

To optimize this time frame with food, you should take an approach fairly similar to that of the pre-workout window. Focus on a serving of high-quality protein (if not using whey protein) and fast digesting carbohydrates if you wish. A few examples of well-balanced meals include: 

- 6oz fish, white rice, vegetables

- 6oz chicken, baked potato, vegetables

- 6oz minced or shredded beef, 1 cup rice spaghetti, tomato sauce, low fat cheese

This should be consumed around 60 – 120 minutes after your post-workout shake or RE-KAGED shake. 

It’s All In the Timing 

While these timings may be less important for the beginner who is focusing on establishing healthy habits, they become key for those at an intermediate or advanced level and are looking to take things to the next level.

Maximizing these three windows of opportunity can increase your progress, yielding great results from your current training and diet regime. If you’re not sure where to start, try adding Pre and Re-Kaged before and after the workout for very noticeable and fast benefits.

References:

Leidy, H. J., Bossingham, M. J., Mattes, R. D., & Campbell, W. W. (2009). Increased dietary protein consumed at breakfast leads to an initial and sustained feeling of fullness during energy restriction compared to other meal times. British Journal of Nutrition101(06), 798-803. 

Leidy, H. J., Ortinau, L. C., Douglas, S. M., & Hoertel, H. A. (2013). Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese,“breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. The American journal of clinical nutrition,97(4), 677-688.

Phillips, S. M., Chevalier, S., & Leidy, H. J. (2016). Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: Implications for optimizing health. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism41(5), 565-572.

Rampersaud, G. C., Pereira, M. A., Girard, B. L., Adams, J., & Metzl, J. D. (2005). Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(5), 743-760. 

Fiore, H., Travis, S., Whalen, A., Auinger, P., & Ryan, S. (2006). Potentially protective factors associated with healthful body mass index in adolescents with obese and nonobese parents: A secondary data analysis of the third national health and nutrition examination survey, 1988-1994. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 106(1), 55-64.

Berkey, C. S., Rockett, H. R. H., Gillman, M. W., Field, A. E., & Colditz, G. A. (2003). Longitudinal study of skipping breakfast and weight change in adolescents. International journal of obesity, 27(10), 1258-1266.

Aragon, A. A., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2013). Nutrient timing revisited: Is there a post-exercise anabolic window. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(1), 5-16.

Burd, N. A., Tang, J. E., Moore, D. R., & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Exercise training and protein metabolism: Influences of contraction, protein intake, and sex-based differences. Journal of Applied Physiology106(5), 1692-1701.

Buford, T. W., Kreider, R. B., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Campbell, B., Spano, M., Ziegenfuss, T., Lopez, H., Landis, J., & Antonio, J. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4(1), 4-6.

Kerksick, C., Harvey, T., Stout, J., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., Kreider, R., Kalman, D., Ziegenfuss, T., Lopez, H., Landis, J., Ivy, J.L., & Antonio, J. (2008). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(1), 17-29.


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