Everything You Need to Know About Meal Timing

Meal timing, or nutrient timing, is a theme that shows up on and off in the world of nutrition. This is for good reason! Meal timing IS important no matter what some people might tell you. However, it may not be AS important as others say, or important for the reasons they convey.

First, meal timing is  NOT  the same as meal frequency.

Meal frequency is how many times you eat during the day. To keep this short and sweet, it doesn’t matter. Total calorie intake matters, and it doesn’t matter whether that is spread over 2 massive meals or 16 tiny snacks. Find what frequency works best for your lifestyle, and go with it. The end.

Meal TIMING is when you eat meals or snacks. Many good questions have been asked in regards to specific times over the last few weeks, so why not address them all here?

1) Is there a specific time of day you should stop eating?

Yes, and no. Old school thought was that if you eat anything after 7 pm (ish) – especially a carb – it will summon the insulin fairy straight into your body and cause you to store all that food as fat.

That is not true. Total calories matter.

However, eating later at night COULD lead to weight gain indirectly. First, if you eat more food at night, and you weigh yourself in the morning, your weight might be a little higher cause you have more “stuff” inside of you. That is literally just weight.

Otherwise, let’s be honest – most people aren’t late-night snacking on pea pods and carrot sticks. Nighttime snacks tend to be higher in calories, and if you aren’t paying attention to your intake, this could be leading to eating too much – but this can also happen at any time of the day.

Lastly, if you eat too close to bedtime, your body may be trying to digest food while you are trying to get to sleep. This can cause a decrease in sleep quality, which over time, can lead to a decrease in glucose tolerance, AND actually make you crave more sugary goodness the next day – again, making the battle more uphill, but not impossible.

2) If I workout first thing in the morning, do I need to eat something before?

Probably not. Unless you are training for more than 90-120 minutes, your last meal of the day yesterday is probably enough fuel to get you through.

So people can tolerate a little snack before, some can’t.

But if you are working out at 5 AM, and want time to digest your snack, so you get up at 3:30 AM to eat, which cuts into your sleep…yeah, no – just get the extra sleep, and have a little water and maybe some electrolytes during your training session.

Sacrificing sleep to eat a piece of toast because you think you NEED it for a 45-minute moderate training session is a bad idea.

3) Do I need to eat within a certain time of ending my workout?

Yes, if you are training hard.

The “anabolic window” used to be 30 minutes after a workout. You had to sprint to your car and slam a protein shake before all your gains went away. It’s not that crazy anymore.

However, if you are training hard – pushing some heavy weights, breaking down a lot of muscle, or doing sprint work – you will want to spark the recovery process ASAP, and this window is more like 2 hours. So, no need to rush, but get something in your body soon-ish.

What should you eat? – some carbs and protein. It used to be thought that the carbs were needed to help shuttle the amino acids from protein into your muscles – but actually, the carbs help mitigate the cortisol spike that you get from hard training, and shift your body into recovery mode.

The protein helps start the muscle repair process which is important because this is when your muscles actually grow. How much protein? Shoot for .18g/pound post-workout. 

4) What about eating carbs only around your workouts?

This is a good strategy for some people, but not necessary. It is based on the idea that carbs are fuel for training, so you want to fuel up before and after your most active part of the day, and eat fewer carbs when you are less active.

If calories are controlled, this actually doesn’t matter.

However, if you are doing long training sessions or running a marathon, then yes, you will need some carbs to replenish your glycogen.

Some people feel charged up when eating carbs before a workout, so they are able to train harder. Some people feel sluggish if they eat carbs before a workout. You have to find what is right for YOU.

Also – for some people, this simple strategy just helps them control calories more, so it defacto works, but there is nothing magic about it.

Don’t overthink this stuff…

At the end of the day, you need to figure out what works best for your schedule, your body, and your lifestyle. Play around with timing, but keep it consistent for a week or so before making a judgment call on if it was good or bad for you.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

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5 Common Sense (But Often Ignored) Ways to Reduce Your Calories

Before you seek out the latest fad diet, supplement, or 21-Day-Cleanse program (for the 5th time this year), consider that the answers that might be right in front of you. The solution to your problem may not be “try something new” – it might be “pay attention to your current self”.

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3 Reasons Why Your 1200 Calories is Really 2400

“I’m trying to eat 1200 calories a day, and I still can’t lose weight!” Raise your hand if you have heard this, said this, or read this before. We all have. Somewhere, someone came up with 1200 as the magic number to lose weight – especially for women!

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Hey Friend, Long Time No Talk…

This is usually how these conversations start. Before you know it, your long lost “friend” is inviting you to a new 30-day challenge that also requires you to buy hundreds of dollars worth of supplements. Are MLM supplements healthy, necessary, and good quality? And do they really work? Let’s dive in…

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Your Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Vacation

Vacation. It’s supposed to be a time to relax, enjoy, and unwind. But to some people, the thought of being in a new environment, off their routine, and surrounded by epic foods and drinks can bring upon the stress of losing gains, and gaining pounds. Continue reading

Put an End to Your Food Sensitivities – FOR GOOD!

It was a Friday afternoon. I had just finished up early at the hospital and I was headed back to Madison for a weekend. I ate some leftover cheese ravioli and slammed a big glass of milk as I rushed out the door to the weekend that awaited.

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When Diet and Exercise are NOT Enough

I exercise, and I eat well – yet I still DON’T SEE RESULTS!

First question – what results are you after?

Second: Do they align with what you are doing?

Third: Do they align with what you do 24/7/365?

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Is Diet Culture Dooming Us All?

As I touched on last week, I firmly believe in distancing morality from food. There are no good nor bad foods – there are just foods, and healthy and unhealthy portions, based on your current situation.

But as a dietitian, a so-called “expert” in the realm of nutrition, how can you NOT say that there are bad foods?!?

This infuriates people. The dieters. The gurus. The zealots.

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Let’s Stop Calling Foods “Good” and “Bad”, Shall We?

I sat down in my office to get to work on some client check in’s for my online nutrition coaching. The first one I opened, BAM! There it was… “I need to call you, I am really struggling”.

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4 Ways to Simplify Your Workouts Without Stressing Over the Small Stuff (With Videos)

When it comes to working out, there are a million different things you can do and a million different ways that people think is best.

The one common factor: hard work and challenging stimulus.

So why do we NEED to overcomplicate things? The tried and true methods still exist for a reason. The staple exercises still exist for a reason. They work.

But what about when we are low on time, energy, equipment or creativity? Can we still get in a good workout? I better bet you can. Here are a few of my favorite methods or modalities to train when there is a limiting factor.

Time

I love doing simple timed supersets or trisets. Let’s say you only have 30 minutes to be in and out of the gym. Okay, take 5 minutes to warm up and 5 minutes to cool down. That means we have 20 minutes for a workout.

Pick 2 to 3 exercises that hit different muscle groups – upper, lower and maybe abs.

Set a timer to beep every 2 minutes, then do 6-12 reps of each exercise, rest until the beep, and repeat again. Here is a simple example using just one dumbbell:

Dumbbell Offset Reverse Lunge

Dumbbell Renegade Rows

If you do this every 2 minutes, that means you are getting in 10 sets of each. Pretty darn good work.

No Equipment

Your body weight can be a great tool here.

Keep it simple, pick a set number of rounds, or like the previous example, do timed rounds.

Here we have a squat, row, single leg RDL, pushup and single leg glute bridge:

***If you don’t even have a bar to row on, just skip it, but make sure you get in some rowing movements later in the week!***

Just a Barbell

“Just” a barbell is a ridiculous statement. You can do SO MUCH with a barbell!

Here is a simple barbell complex: squat, row, RDL, and push up.

Obviously, you want to use a challenging weight, and the right number of reps based on the weight and or the rounds you choose to do. I have done this exact complex for 25 minutes straight (6-8 reps per exercise with 135 on the bar, plus 1-minute rest after each round) and it is BRUTAL!

Get Creative

Maybe you just have a foam roller? Or a log? There is literally no excuse to NOT get a workout in.

Here is a foam roller only complex, and my cabin log workout (this was more of a joke, but it IS possible!)

 

BONUS: It doesn’t always have to be crazy! 

Here was a cabin mobility/pump workout I did in the basement of my parent’s cabin. Don’t overthink these things!

Would you like more help on taking back your life, learning to love health and food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Stay healthy my friends,