People love to complicate sh*t.
Carbohydrate timing is a perfect example.
Ask twenty different health “experts” or your local gym bro about when the best time to eat carbohydrates is, and you will undoubtedly get twenty different answers.
“Gotta get them in early, within fifteen minutes of waking up, to ‘rev’ up that metabolism.”
“Make sure you get at least 100 grams of starch in liquid form from waxy maize exactly 30 minutes before you start your warm up; but after you’ve had your pre workout.”
“You have to get an exact 3:1 carb to protein ratio within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, or else you’ll lose all your gains, (insert some variation of dude/bro/boss, here.)”
“Never eat them after 7; I don’t know exactly why, but Dr. Oz said it, so it must be true!”
Meanwhile, you’re just standing there like…
I’m going to try my best to clear the air on this issue, once and for all.
First, let me preface this post by saying that I write the vast majority of my posts for “regular” people.
If you are a professional athlete or competitor training 2-3 times per day, then you might have to get a little more complex with your meal timing.
This information is intended for the 99.9% of folks out there that just want to feel good, look good, and perform well – without the hassle!
I’ve said it before and will say it, again:
The worst possible time of the day to eat carbohydrates is in the morning;
The best time to eat carbohydrates is around (before and after) your workouts, and in the evening.
If you train early in the morning, within 1-2 hours of waking up, I recommend training on an empty stomach – especially if fat loss is your main goal!
You should still have some energy (food) in you from the previous night’s dinner, so all I recommend is a cup or two of black coffee, and if absolutely necessary, a small piece of fruit.
After your workout, add anywhere from 30-100 grams of carbs to your breakfast (depending on your goals) in the form of starch.
Your best choices would be “gluten free” oats, hot rice cereal, and fruit.
Sample Am Menu:
Upon waking: Coffee, Banana
Breakfast: 2-3 eggs, 1 cup of oats, 1/2 cup blueberries
Lunch: Spinach salad with 6-8 oz’s of chicken
If you are training midday, just make sure you are eating a meal that includes carbohydrates anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes before your session.
Remember that eating too many carbs can leave you feeling sluggish and tired, so I would limit the amount to around 30-50 grams, just enough to get you through your workout.
“Post” workout, I would have another 30-50 grams of carbohydrates.
Sweet potatoes, quinoa, and white rice are all great “pre” and “post” workout options.
Sample PM Menu:
Breakfast: Omelette, vegetables, coffee
Lunch: 6-8 oz’s white fish, sauteed spinach, sweet potato
*If you train 4 or more hours after eating lunch, make sure to eat a piece of fruit 30-60 min before your session.
No matter what time of the day you train, the vast majority of your carbohydrates will come at this time – with dinner.
The exact amount will vary individually depending on your specific goals, gender, and weight.
This meal will either serve as your “pre” workout meal for the next day’s early morning session, or as a “post” workout meal if you already trained that day, or both.
Sample Dinner Menu:
6-8 oz’s of grass fed beef, 1-3 cups white rice, 1 cup steam vegetables
If you are training once per day, it doesn’t need to get any more complicated than that.
You don’t need to worry about any “magic” two hour window or take any fancy supplements.
Stick to whole, natural foods and make sure that your macro nutrient break down is tailored to your specific goals.
If you want to lose body fat, eat less carbohydrates.
If you want to build muscle, eat more carbohydrates.
No matter your goals, however, carbohydrates are, and should remain, an important part of your diet.
Consume them “pre” and “post” workout, as well as in the evenings.
If you’re not working out that day, don’t eat them, except for a small amount with dinner.
The only thing that will vary person to person is the amount consumed.
Albert Einstein once said,
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
This applies to most areas in life – nutrition is no exception.
In my opinion, the best diet in the world is the one you can follow consistently.
You shouldn’t need to whip out a scale or calculator every time you need to eat.
Follow these simple guidelines and focus on getting the majority of your calories from real food.
Time your carbs.
Don’t let them time you.