By: Calum McLellan, CISSN, CSCS, NASM-PES Sports Nutritionist and Sports Performance Specialist Spectrum Sports Performance SSP Nutrition: Timing

This week’s nutrition topic is on the concept of nutrient timing. No I am not talking about how fast you can wolf down a Chipotle burrito, but rather the time between your meals in the day. A typical diet consists of three main meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. All of these meals are equally important pieces of a sound sports nutrition program but the issue is how far apart these meals are spread apart. This long period between feedings causes a drop in your body’s metabolism and increases the sensation of hunger (causing us to over-eat).

To fix this problem, we simply add a small snack in-between each of the main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) to keep the metabolism revved up and maintain satiation (feeling of fullness). Although the idea of eating 5-6 times seems like a difficult task, it’s not as daunting as it sounds and the rewards are well worth the effort. Research has shown that eating more frequently through out the day can improve mood, concentration, improve muscle growth (more opportunities to spike protein synthesis) and decrease appetite.

Example of an ideal day of eating:

7:00 a.m.: Meal #1 (breakfast)
10:00 a.m.: Meal #2 (shake or snack)
1:00 p.m.: Meal #3 (lunch)
4:00 p.m.: Meal #4 (shake or snack)
4:30 p.m.: Workout
5:30 p.m. Post workout (shake or snack)
6:30 p.m.: Meal #5 (Dinner)

9:30 p.m.: Meal #6 (Shake or Snack)

For this eating plan to work you must eat breakfast every day. It is extremely important to have this meal as quickly as possible after you wake up in order to kick-start your metabolism. The other integral piece of this plan is that you need to have snacks throughout the day. Ideally these snacks should be small portions and should contain protein to ensure the body continues to repair broken down muscle.

Examples of quality snacks

Greek yogurt
Mixed nuts paired with low-fat cheese slices
Apple slices with peanut butter
1 scoop of whey protein
Beef jerky
Hard boiled egg

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