Consuming nutrients at the right time and in appropriate amounts
can take fitness and performance to a new level. The complex science behind
nutrient timing, however, requires the help of sports nutritionists, usually
restricting the practice to elite athletes working with professional 'food
Now, renowned sport nutritionists Heidi Skolnik and Andrea
Chernus--who work with elite athletes from New York Giants football players to
Julliard School dancers--break down the nutrient timing issue for all types of
athletes in a hands-on guide. In Nutrient Timing for Peak
Performance (Human Kinetics, June 2010), they advise
when to eat what so nutrients have their greatest impact on athletes' bodies.
"The timing of nutrients can have a big impact on an
athlete's energy," claims Skolnik. "Plus, when and how much you eat
can help not only with muscle hypertrophy but also with immune function."
She adds that staying well fueled can also reduce the risk of injury.
Skolnik and Chernus explain in layperson's terms the science
behind nutrient timing and detail nutrients like carbohydrate, protein, smart
fat, essential vitamins and minerals and the role of fluids and supplements.
With that base of information, they provide the strategies, plans and sample
menus to help people develop their own individualized Nutritional Blueprints
incorporating the Nutrient Timing Principles (NTP).
Before exercise, for example, the authors suggest specific
strategies for ingestion of carbohydrate, protein and fluids. Carbohydrate
before exercise provides a "topping off" of fuel reserves and blood
sugar, says Skolnik helping athletes stamina, concentration and skill remain
strong. Pre-exercise protein, meanwhile, may be difficult to tolerate,
but small amounts may aid in reducing muscle soreness. Strength athletes,
specifically, benefit from a small amount of high-quality protein to aid
insulin release, inhibit muscle breakdown and facilitate muscle repair.
However, "it need not be immediately before exercise in any special
form," adds Skolnik.
Fluid needs vary by individual, but the authors generally advise
drinking 17 to 20 ounces of fluids two to three hours before exercise to supply
optimal fluid to muscle tissue in advance of the workout and for any excess to
be excreted. They also advise drinking 7 to 10 ounces of fluids 10 to 20
minutes before exercise. "This will help ensure that blood plasma is
hydrated," explains Chernus. "This timing strategy also ensures that
there is some fluid in your stomach so that as you drink during your training,
absorption will be faster than if you began with an empty stomach."
authors go on to provide advice for fueling during and post-exercise, and they
give specific guidelines for strength and power athletes, endurance sport
participants and stop-and-go athletes.
"Our goal is to help athletes formulate an eating plan to
meet their goals," says Skolnik, "whether they are male or female,
compete seriously, participate for fun, or are training for health, well-being
For more information on Nutrient Timing for
Peak Performance or other sports nutrition resources, visit www.HumanKinetics.com.