Nutrient Timing: For Weight Loss, Does When You Eat Matter More Than What You Eat?

Nutrient Timing: For Weight Loss, Does When You Eat Matter More Than What You Eat?

By Lindsey Unterberger


Have you guys been watching the new weight-loss show My Diet Is Better Than Yours? I literally rolled my eyes when I saw the previews because, come on, just no. But when a friend told me her trainer, Rob Sulaver of BandanaTraining, was going to be on last night's episode, I agreed to tune in. And now I'm hooked. The premise is exactly what you'd expect: Five trainers put their clients on five different eating plans to see who loses the most weight, percentage-wise. (The trainers also incorporate various workout plans, which could definitely account for varying results, but the show doesn't get into that as much.) After a few weeks, the contestants have the chance to switch their trainer and diet if they don't think the one they're on is working for them. (So Sulaver came onto the show when a contestant, La'Tasha, asked for a new program.) His plan for La'Tasha? Nutrient timing.

"Nutrient timing is the idea that certain macro nutrients are better utilized by the body at certain times, specifically in relation to exercise," says Sulaver. "We decided to go with this plan because its a scientific-y approach to food and fitness. Those are three things I love: food, fitness, and the word scientific-y."


Although the plan is rooted in science, it's not complicated. Here, according to Sulaver, is how it works: "The nutrient timing plan really highlights the relationship between exercise and nutrition. The goal is to be a tiny bit hungry going into a workout—feeling lean and mean—and then have a solid meal afterward to help replenish hungry muscles. The rest of the day you want to focus on whole, unprocessed from-the-earth foods. That means aton of vegetables, plenty of healthy meats, and balanced, natural fats." On his blog, Sulaver gets into the specifics. "The goal is to move the bulk of your carbs to your post workout window," he writes. "Yes, that means no carbs before your workout. Start by adding a handful of your first meal post workout. Fruit, rice, or potatoes are all excellent options."

In La'Tasha's first week of working with Sulaver on the show, she lost five pounds, so there's clearly something to it.

Nutrient timing, however, doesn't work on its own. "Like all matters of the metabolism, we have to get the big picture right before we focus on the details," says Sulaver. "The phrase 'nutrient timing' itself is a nice reminder that we should first worry about the nutrients, then we can start to master the timing."

The bottom line: When you eat matters but not at the expense of what you eat.


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