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Meal Timing for Macros: Does It Even Contribute to Your Diet?
It doesn’t seem like too long ago, people (including myself) were so focused on meal timing as well as frequency, that it consumed our lives. We were so worried about ensuring we were taking in the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats at a certain time that it became an infatuation.
Speaking of macros, if you don’t have a clue what your macros should be for the day, you check out this quick and easy IIFYM calculator. Knowing these numbers is extremely important to your overall success.
Ultimately though, is there a point of meal timing in order to set yourself up for success? The answer is no, but with a caveat.
All the bro-science surrounding meal timing has been debunked and we should all be thankful for that if we are not an elite athlete (we will touch on this later).
Together, between all of us, we have probably heard our fair share of reasons why people are eating at certain times of day to meet the requirements of their meal timing.
*It should be noted that we at IIFYM.com, as well as the author, would advise you to consult with your doctor before engaging in any new nutrition or exercise program, including the ones found here on IIFYM.com.
While all of them are based upon improving the quality of life and health of an individual. We do not know the current health constraints you may be living with. For that reason, please seek the advice of your doctor to ensure you are healthy enough to engage in and utilize your new exercise or diet plan.
When To Consume Calories
Remember the whole “you should eat something as soon as you wake up since your body isn’t being fed while you sleep,” nonsense? The “breaking the fast” talk? For some of us, the alarm clock was like a dinner bell.
Our feet hit the floor before the alarm even went off because we were worried our hard-earned gains were being lost by sleeping too long and not feeding our muscles. Who would have thought that we would plan our lives according to maximizing our potential lean muscle gains?
People would make a sound breakfast following an IIFYM diet plan. Where they mainly focused on a quality protein source while having a side of carbohydrates with it— such as oatmeal.
Some even went as far as drinking a shake during their morning routine. Believing the liquid form of protein and amino acids would hit their system faster than a whole food source. Since it would need to be broken down into a usable form first.
What about the oatmeal you ask? Well, they’d throw their oats in the blender with their protein powder and mix it all up.
The “don’t eat late at night” Myth
Then there was the “don’t eat food late at night or it will be stored as fat” theory. This too was later debunked. If you follow us here on IIFYM, you know that we focus on the big picture. As in, total calories consumed by the end of the day and hitting each of our macros.
Thanks to researchers, we now know that you don’t have to worry about when you eat all your macros to fit your IIFYM diet plan. Meal timing has been thrown out the window. New research is showing that a small meal such as a beverage with protein can not only help with protein synthesis during the night, but it can also help with satiation and metabolism upon waking in the morning (3).
If you aren’t sure where you’re going wrong with your IIFYM diet plan. Or you simply don’t know where to start, IIFYM coaches can help you reach your goals. We all know that you can’t out-train a poor diet plan. The great news is, you don’t need to when you find a plan that fits your lifestyle.
IIFYM has everything from a 90-day weight loss challenge, coaching, Macro Blueprints and even recipes that you can utilize. If you haven’t checked out the IIFYM.com programs, I highly recommend you take a few minutes to see how they can take your health and fitness to the next level.
It’s About BALANCE, Not Meal Timing
What does all of this mean? This all means that if you are focused on following a balanced diet plan such as IIFYM, engage in exercise, and are looking for overall weight loss, maintenance, or improved health. There’s no reason to get bent out of shape or worried about meal timing.
If you aren’t a professional athlete or plan on partaking in marathons or long endurance activities, don’t worry about it. Meal timing is truly for those who exert their bodies to the limit. And therefore, need to focus on proper recovery from extensive bouts of exercise or competition.
Well, it’s shown that not consuming calories within the originally thought 45-minute window has no bearing on size or strength gains (2).
Something to take into consideration with all this being said is that you still shouldn’t negate the fact that you need a proper well-balanced diet, full of whole food options.
Don’t think that just because meal timing was debunked that it means you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. If this is currently you, IIFYM has many different programs available for you to utilize based on your goals.
IIFYM.com isn’t just a website, it’s a community where people go to find tons of great literature and information. Everything IIFYM related as well as everyday health and fitness topics to help you along your journey. Everyone on the site is there for a common purpose of engaging in a healthier lifestyle through the use of IIFYM techniques to make your life a little less complicated.
The Post Workout “Window of Opportunity”
I’ll raise my hand super high in front of the entire IIFYM.com family and say it would stress me out after a workout if I didn’t have a post workout protein source or shake ready to go with some sort of carbohydrate.
I would almost get anxiety thinking I just spent all that time in the gym for nothing if I couldn’t get in my post workout shake within that 45-minute “window of opportunity”. Due to being so focused on the notion of meal timing that I thought all hope was lost if I missed the opportunity.
I needed that protein and waxy maize (or other fast digesting carbohydrate source) to match my meal timing plan. Well, that too has been debunked by science—thank goodness. No more running around trying to gather everything you need to get in your post workout recovery shake or meal.
People were looking at the “window of opportunity” as a make or break aspect of the equation. When in actuality, it wasn’t truly necessary. What’s more important is your overall nutrition for the day versus meal timing and your post workout nutrition.
It’s like I say to all my clients who ask if a certain food or supplement will make them fat. No, that ONE piece is not going to make you fat, it’s the cumulation of everything else you eat throughout the day that could potentially cause you to gain weight.
The same principle applies with post workout meal timing. Nowadays, we’ve come to realize that the 45-minute window we once thought we had is now much wider.
How does the expansion of the “window of opportunity” affect strength and muscle size? Well, it’s shown that not consuming calories within the originally thought 45-minute window has no bearing on size or strength gains (2).
The Death of Meal Timing
See a reoccurring theme, my IIFYM friends? Meal timing is dead. Gone. Good riddance.
Stop worrying about specific meal timing and start focusing on your total calories and macronutrients for the day. Ensuring you’re hitting those numbers—regardless if you follow the IIFYM diet or not.
Everyone was so worried about what to eat post workout, when in fact the inverse is what we should be focusing on. In that, it’s what we consume BEFORE we engaged in exercise.
To maintain your energy levels, you want to ensure your body has enough glycogen stored to allow you the ability to push yourself hard in the gym without failing and tapping out early.
If you are used to exercising in the morning before eating breakfast, your focus should be on your last meal before bed. You should make sure you are taking in carbohydrates during that meal to ensure your glycogen stores are full for your morning workout.
…the post workout or event nutrition (meal timing) isn’t as important as we once thought. It’s positively more crucial to refuel and feed your body within a 24-hour period.
In the case where you eat prior to your workout (let’s assume resistance training). Your post workout meal timing truly shouldn’t be a concern at all since the body would still be breaking down and utilizing the nutrients you fed it before your workout.
In fact, research is showing that when protein is consumed prior to training, the amino acids are still available long after the training session ends (1).
Therefore, eating again post workout would be redundant. Not only that, but the chances of depleting your glycogen stores from a resistance training workout when compared to an endurance workout aren’t that great. You’ll burn through glycogen more so when engaging in long bouts of endurance training than you would lifting weights.
What About Meal Timing For Elite Athletes?
If you are an elite athlete or compete in fitness or bodybuilding, meal timing might be ideal for you based off of your extensive bouts of training. On any given day, you could be exercising for over two hours (in one or multiple bouts).
For these individuals, foodstuffs such as electrolytes, protein, and carbohydrates can truly make a difference. Not only in the overall physique of the individual but also their performance.
Prepping for an event such as a marathon or any type of endurance race can involve carb-loading as well as replenishment afterward due to the demands that the body was asked to be put through.
Even then, the post workout or event nutrition (meal timing) isn’t as important as we once thought. It’s positively more crucial to refuel and feed your body within a 24-hour period.
Due to this being the cardinal rule for ideal performance, knowing your ideal macros will give you an edge.
Provide yourself with the ideal intake, have one of our coaches build your Custom Macro Blueprint.
Or in the case of a bodybuilder, depleting the body and then adding carbs back in to fill up the muscle can mean the difference between being first and last place on stage.
Maybe you’re a wrestler or tennis player and have multiple matches during a given day and need to plan recovery meals between to replenish energy stores. So, for these types of individuals, I would recommend meal timing. But, for the majority of us, we don’t fit into these categories.
Meal Timing For Health Reasons
I don’t want to neglect the fact that there are people out there, such as diabetics, who need to eat and focus on meal timing. If they take insulin, obviously, most work their insulin around their certain meal timing.
You don’t want to take a dose of insulin for no reason and then not eat anything, completely throwing your levels out of whack. So, there are instances where people will spend time thinking about and focusing on their meal timing due to health constraints.
Hitting Your Numbers Is More Important Than WHEN You Hit Those Numbers
If you look at a dieting technique such as intermittent fasting, you would quickly notice that not all of those individuals are eating at “certain” times of the day (well, kinda).
Yes, they have a window they feed during, such as an eight-hour timeframe. Yet, it’s not likely they change their workouts around it to squeeze them in during their feeding window.
There’s evidence that fasting isn’t a bad protocol when it comes to your health, and that for many, it may beneficial (4).
Years back people would have been stoned to death (ok, that’s a slight exaggeration) if they said they were not only going to train in a fasted state. Yet, also won’t have a post workout meal for several hours later.
Yet, it should be noted that those following an intermittent fasting nutrition plan are drinking zero calorie beverages such as water or even black coffee during their fasted state. Many people even incorporate IIFYM into their intermittent fasting nutrition plan.
The take home message is whether you are following an IIFYM blueprint or not. Meal timing truly means nothing to people who we consider “normal” non-competitive athletes and work the 9-5 lifestyle.
Don’t get yourself so worked up over when you are eating. It’s best to focus on hitting your diet plan calories and macros each day. With this strategy, you’ll see the results you were looking for.
- 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 10 (2013): 5. PMC. Web. 16 May 2017.
- Schoenfeld, Brad Jon, Alan Albert Aragon, and James W Krieger. “The Effect of Protein Timing on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 10 (2013): 53. PMC. Web. 16 May 2017.
- Kinsey, Amber W., and Michael J. Ormsbee. “The Health Impact of Nighttime Eating: Old and New Perspectives.” Nutrients 7.4 (2015): 2648–2662. PMC. Web. 16 May 2017.
- Mattson, Mark P. et al. “Meal Frequency and Timing in Health and Disease.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111.47 (2014): 16647–16653. PMC. Web. 16 May 2017.