T Nation

Nutrient Timing

When is the best time to eat?

Why do we time nutrition on a 24 hour period?

Does our body really need a specific amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates “per day”? Why not per week or month?

Why don’t we time other nutrients, too? For instance, some seem to care more about timing their carbohydrate and protein intake and they give not a thought to the other nutrients that are necessary for muscle growth.

I feel intermittent fasting has made be become more aware of my actual nutritional needs. Some days I don’t crave as much meat; some days I crave specific types of meat; some days all I crave is a giant-ass green salad.

Interesting topic.

I read an article about using weekly macro/calorie totals instead of daily. Some days you feel like a nut, some days you don’t. to borrow from Candy.

You bring up a great and very valid topic. One that I don’t think a lot of us fully understand the answers too. From my perpestive though the reason I think we valiadate everything around a 24-hour cycle nutrtionally, is probably due to the fact we sleep, which in and of its self acts as a reset button, a baseline.However, when it comes to Macronutrients in my eyes a week would blatantly miss the finer details while focusing on an hourly basis would miss the greater picture. Micronutrients on the other is something that could arguably be considered completely independant of this 24-hour cycle where so engaged in.

A great example of this is how are livers are capable of storing B-12 up to several years in-case of physiological distress. It doesn’t do so to ensure we thrive(key word here) , but to ensure survival. So ultimately one of the questions we should be asking is, what’s the best way of veiwing micronutrient intake to achieve optimal results while maintaing balance(not depleting other nutrients in the process). Sadly, this is something that only plagues the elite in terms of physical prowess :stuck_out_tongue:

I keep coming back to GOMAD-related ideas with myself, and I’ve found that simply having something I can consume throughout the day, and just letting my body dictate how much intake it needs or wants at any given time, has been very good for me.

It lets me maintain a constant state of being satiated. Whole milk doesn’t have the best macronutrient profile, but I’ve used different types of homemade shakes that are usually high protein high fat low carb. Often dairy and egg protein based.

Should we allow ourselves to be hungry before eating or should we just eat because it is “lunchtime”, for example?

I have been testing myself. Whenever I think I am hungry I think about eating steamed fish and broccoli. If this is appealing to me then I know I must be hungry because I am not typically turned on by these foods.

To me the signal of hunger is telling me that my body might need specific nutrients. Is waiting until I am hungry for them too late?

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Should we allow ourselves to be hungry before eating or should we just eat because it is “lunchtime”, for example?

I have been testing myself. Whenever I think I am hungry I think about eating steamed fish and broccoli. If this is appealing to me then I know I must be hungry because I am not typically turned on by these foods.

To me the signal of hunger is telling me that my body might need specific nutrients. Is waiting until I am hungry for them too late?[/quote]

If you’re not training for size or strength this is probably an okay approach.

I don’t imagine our ancestors ( we’re still like them physiologically speaking. ) took a look at the Sun phase and decide it was lunch. They say you crave different things based on nutrients you might be lacking. How true that is, I don’t know.

[quote]corstijeir wrote:

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Should we allow ourselves to be hungry before eating or should we just eat because it is “lunchtime”, for example?

I have been testing myself. Whenever I think I am hungry I think about eating steamed fish and broccoli. If this is appealing to me then I know I must be hungry because I am not typically turned on by these foods.

To me the signal of hunger is telling me that my body might need specific nutrients. Is waiting until I am hungry for them too late?[/quote]

If you’re not training for size or strength this is probably an okay approach.

I don’t imagine our ancestors ( we’re still like them physiologically speaking. ) took a look at the Sun phase and decide it was lunch. They say you crave different things based on nutrients you might be lacking. How true that is, I don’t know.[/quote]

Why should it be any different for the type of training I am doing?

Wouldn’t the type of training I am doing affect my hunger in specific ways and thus also signal for me to eat what and when?

I do train for strength - any hypertrophy gains are coincidental.

[quote]corstijeir wrote:
I don’t imagine our ancestors ( we’re still like them physiologically speaking. ) took a look at the Sun phase and decide it was lunch. They say you crave different things based on nutrients you might be lacking. How true that is, I don’t know.[/quote]

I think subsistence living people took what they could get, when they could get it.

Opportunism played a big role for nutrient timing for our ancestors.

In the last 100 years or so hunger has all but disappeared in industrial societies.

Because of it I feel we might be losing our intuitive ability to eat.

a study was done on a 400lb man to see how long he could go without food. all he had was water and vitamins… he went a year without food and lost 200lbs.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

[quote]corstijeir wrote:

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Should we allow ourselves to be hungry before eating or should we just eat because it is “lunchtime”, for example?

I have been testing myself. Whenever I think I am hungry I think about eating steamed fish and broccoli. If this is appealing to me then I know I must be hungry because I am not typically turned on by these foods.

To me the signal of hunger is telling me that my body might need specific nutrients. Is waiting until I am hungry for them too late?[/quote]

If you’re not training for size or strength this is probably an okay approach.

I don’t imagine our ancestors ( we’re still like them physiologically speaking. ) took a look at the Sun phase and decide it was lunch. They say you crave different things based on nutrients you might be lacking. How true that is, I don’t know.[/quote]

Why should it be any different for the type of training I am doing?

Wouldn’t the type of training I am doing affect my hunger in specific ways and thus also signal for me to eat what and when?

I do train for strength - any hypertrophy gains are coincidental.[/quote]

I think this is more of a problem for really big guys or guys with fast metabolisms. To gain muscle in those scenarios you need to pack in calories, often far beyond the amount that will leave you satiated.

Unless you fall into one of those categories then I wouldn’t worry about it; just eat when you’re hungry. I do IF too, and at first I had to regiment myself to “no calories in before 2pm,” no matter how hungry I get. But after 2-3 months I stopped getting nasty hunger pangs, and now break my fast whenever I get hungry, anywhere from 12:00 - 3:00.

To take a stab at your original question - I know a lot of people when dieting will choose to look at weekly macros to translate that into an estimated rate of fat loss. But I think most people view macros in a daily sense because they’re so closely tied to your activity levels.

Say I eat 21,000 cals/week on average and hit the gym 3 days/week. Instead of dividing the cals evenly across rest and gym days, it makes a lot more sense to move the macros around to have more on workout days and less on off days. And the reason a lot of people time protein/carbs specifically is for the hormonal and anabolic results they provide. Other nutrients are definitely important too, but I think it’s just too damn hard for your average person to worry about time them correctly.

That said, I feel weekly/monthly/yearly macros are going to paint the big picture for how much muscle you pack on or how much fat you lose. Timing macros down to the day is more of an optimization thing once you have the big picture nailed down, and timing micros is probably the next step below that.