For edification purposes I read published articles and research papers by Dr. John Berardi, Alan Aragon and Dr. John Ivy. I’ve become a fan of Dr. Ivy, who has spent his career researching healthy options for building strength, endurance and muscle mass.
Up until now my focus has been on what to eat and how much to eat. With my goal being to build lean muscle mass I will now begin to incorporate nutrient timing, or when to eat, into my daily protocol.
In this posting I’ll briefly summarize Dr. Ivy’s position. For a more detailed explanation check out Dr. Ivy’s book, Nutrient Timing, available on Amazon.com for around $10 US.
If anyone out there has utilized nutrient timing as part of your regime, I’d love to hear about your results!
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) provides the energy currency (fuel) for the body to perform mechanical work such as muscle contraction. It is created by the breakdown of food, which is why it’s imperative that if you’re exercising you keep your body well nourished.
ATP can be generated both anaerobically (without oxygen) and aerobically (with oxygen).
Anaerobically, ATP is formed through the phosphagen system and through glycolysis. The phosphagen system provides enough energy to fuel 5 to 10 seconds of activity while glycolysis fuels activities that last around 30 to 120 seconds.
For longer duration activities such as a marathon, the body relies on the aerobic pathway where carbohydrates, protein and fat are utilized for ATP production.
So, while muscles can only store enough ATP for a few seconds of high intensity contraction (e.g, sprinting), our bodies are constantly generating more ATP. The more intense the exercise, the greater the body’s demand for ATP, the more wear and tear on the body.
This is where nutrient timing comes in to play.
In his research findings, Dr. Ivy identified a time span during which nutrition will impact an athletes ability to improve endurance, reduce muscle damage and improve recovery. Specifically:
30 minutes prior to exercise fully hydrate by consuming 14 – 20 ounces of water or electrolyte solution.
During exercise fluids should be replenished every 15 – 20 minutes. And, not just water. A drink consisting of a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio can increase endurance and limit muscle damage.
30 minutes post-workout is the window of opportunity where a muscle’s potential to rebuild peaks. Ivy suggests high quality protein and carbohydrates be consumed during this period.
For the average person who does not spend a considerable amount of time exercising, focusing on the what and how much to eat will ensure they are able to maintain a desired weight.
As for the athlete or person spending a considerable amount of time in the gym seeking to change their body composition, nutrient timing is well worth the exploration.
Train hard; stay strong.