How-To Guide, Nutrient Timing For Normal People

Updated April 26th 2020; January 24th 2018

Nutrient timing does not need to be difficult nor complicated.

But with so much broscience out there, what are the facts?

If you are a top athlete, you probably have a coach guiding you on your nutrient so you might not be aware of certain intricacies in your eating schedule.

But for the average folk, this can seem like information that makes no sense or it does not seem applicable to you.

And you are right, nutrient timing does play a factor in your diet but it is not the most important thing.

If you do want to develop an edge against your competitors or are just looking to better yourself, we will discuss several questions about nutrient timing and how you can apply it to your own life and training schedule. 

Does meal timing matter bodybuilding

Meal timing matters in the bodybuilding world.

However, for most athletes, focusing on the basics would be a more effective strategy and would be a better return on investment for their time.

These basics include:

  • Hitting their daily caloric goal
  • Eating enough macronutrients
  • Eating consistently

If most bodybuilders can nail these instructions daily for the next 10 years, the possibilities are limitless.

Does carb timing matter bodybuilding

Carb timing does matter since carbohydrates provide fuel for your muscles to exert force.

Insulin sensivity and blood sugar spikes can play a role in your workout but only on a very elite level.

For most gym-goers, they should not focus on carb timing but instead on making sure they eat enough protein, carbohydrates and fats to hit their daily macros.

Pre-exercise meal one to two hours before a workout

If the meal contains a sufficient amount of carbohydrates and amino acids, it can serve as both a pre-exercise and post-exercise meal.

The study also emphasizes that if the meal is taken, an immediate post-exercise meal might be redundant [1]. 

Thus, the recommendation for this stage is either immediately if possible or one to two hours post exercise. 

This will be sufficient in achieving the maximum amount of recovery and anabolism [1].

Protein timing myth

Your protein intake timing matters but what is more important for the average athlete is that they consume enough daily protein to aid in muscle synthesis and to prevent muscle loss.

Pre-exercise meal four to six hours before a workout

This scenario applies to people who usually train before lunch or after work. 

The study explains that the body is in a depleted of immediate nutrients and that a post-exercise meal should be consumed immediately [1].

However, despite what science has to say, there are limitations to the studies, as mentioned in the research review article.

One drawback mentioned was that there is very little long term research done on nutrient timing. 

This is problematic since weight training is a long term process and it would be helpful for the public to know the long term effects of nutrient timing.

Another drawback of these studies was that the tested individuals were mostly untrained, meaning they had very little training experience. 

This could create some bias data since an untrained individual’s body will be more reactive to stimulus. 

Studies should be grouped and repeated on individuals, ranging from amateurs to professionals.

The last drawback mentioned a flaw in the process of meaning muscle hypertrophy. 

This is incredibly important since this can imply that researchers are just guessing the approximate amount of muscle growth.

Nutrient timing for lean muscle

Nutrient timing to gain lean muscle should be divided by what you do with your 3 macronutrients, your proteins, carbs, and fats.


Aim to eat at least 1g per pound of bodyweight.

Eat 4-6 times a day, and split your protein consumption evenly throughout your meals.


Determine how much carbs you want to eat per day. This varies according to your daily activity level, resting metabolic rate, goals, and sport.

Eat more carbs pre-workout and post-workout (intra-workout as well if your training sessions are over 1h). Lower your carb consumption for the other meals.


Eat most of your fats away from your training session.

Eat less fats pre-workout and post-workout (don’t eat any intra-workout).


For a nice video representation of how you should approach nutrient timing for hypertrophy training, take a look at this video:

Meal timing powerlifting

Meal timing may not be important in powerlifting compared to getting enough total calories into your body and getting enough macros.

But with that said, the difference between 3rd place and 1st place and getting an edge over your competitors may be found in meal timing.

Here is a video indicating how you should address carb, fat, and protein timing in your diet overall.

This video also shows how meal timing ranks in terms of importance in your nutrition plan…

Food to eat before a workout, eggs

If you have an afternoon or evening workout, eggs make the perfect breakfast food since they are 6+ hours away from your workout.

Eggs do not make such a great pre-workout snack within 2 hours of working out.

One egg has 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat.


Protein bar before workout

Protein bars like Quest bars fit the nutrient timing paradigm and can be consumed with confident pre-workout and post-workout.

One quest bar (brownie sqush flavor) has 190 calories, 7grams of fat, 1.5g of saturated fat, 23g of carbohydrates, and 20g of protein.

Meal timing strategies

  1. Eat most of your daily carbs within 6 hours of training
  2. Carb/protein meal/shake pre-workout and post-workout is a great idea.
  3. Eat no fats during workouts.
  4. Eat low fats post-workout.
  5. Meal timing can help minimize muscle loss and performance loss during caloric deficits.

Keep in mind that nothing extraordinary will occur if you perfect nutrient timing.

Nevertheless, it will give you an edge if your competitors do not practice meal timing strategies while you do plus nailing the basics down.

Nutrient timing doesn't matter

In conclusion, meal timing is irrelevant unless you are a professional and are competing against the top 5 best athletes in your country. 

There are benefits to nutrient timing but if you cannot do the basics of eating enough calories and getting enough macros in your diet, you should not be thinking about altering your eating schedule in order to optimize your macro timing.

The best use of your time would be to focus on what works and leave these nutrient timing tactics to the professionals.

But even then, each individual will have a different response to different foods, depending on their bodies.

The BIGGEST influencers to how much progress you can - your RECOVERY, your TRAINING, and your HORMONES.

What about fasted weight training?

If you lift weights in a fasted state, for example in the morning after you wake up and your last meal was dinner last night, the study suggests that you consume some carbohydrate and protein source immediately after working out.

The immediate consumption of food reduced proteolysis, which the breakdown of proteins into amino acids, and increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis [1]. 

As a result, this promotes an anabolic state for your body.


[1] Aragon, Alan Albert, and Brad Jon Schoenfeld. “Nutrient Timing Revisited: Is There a Post-Exercise Anabolic Window?” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BioMed Central, 29 Jan. 2013,

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