When it comes to healthy eating, you’ve likely heard far more about what and how much to eat versus when to eat.
It makes sense: Most experts say you first need to know whether you’re eating too much or not enough, then nail down the right macronutrient balance for your goals. Most people fine-tune nutrient timing later.
But if you’re eating the right foods in the right amounts, but still not seeing the results you think you should be, could it be when you’re eating that’s holding you back?
How much does meal timing matter, really? Is meal timing a myth? Let’s dive into that question and others about when you should eat.
What is Nutrient Timing?
Eating macronutrients at certain times — before, during, or after workouts — is called nutrient timing.
The concept of nutrient timing includes the new rules of protein timing, or the “anabolic window” after workouts when muscles are most receptive to protein. It comes into play when determining how to eat leading up to your big endurance event.
Is Meal Timing a Myth?
We’ve been conditioned to eat by the clock, though it’s a habit that contradicts the concept of mindful eating, or purposefully noticing hunger and satiety cues.
So is meal timing a myth? Yes and no, says Paige Benté, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., and nutrition manager at Beachbody. It matters, just not as much as you might think.
“With athletes, it’s much more important to time your meals appropriately,” says Benté, adding that this is less important for the weekend warrior than the Olympic athlete. (But those in between may see a benefit.)
In general, for most people, missing one meal occasionally or eating lunch an hour early or late isn’t what’s going to make or break your diet.
But you do need to eat regularly. In a statement published in the journal Circulation, the American Heart Association makes the case for eating intentionally and paying attention to the timing and frequency of your meals.
According to the AHA, a consistent, regular eating schedule could yield a healthier lifestyle and could benefit your cardiovascular health, too.
And when it comes to weight loss and maintenance, the timing of your meals is an important factor in maintaining appetite and healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day, says Jim White, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Regularly timed meals can also help you maintain a healthy metabolism and energy levels, he adds.
Additionally, going to bed with a full stomach or not eating the right ratio and amount of carbs and protein on either side of a workout can mean that you’re not getting the most from all that work, something we’ll delve into in just a moment.
If you’re interested in trying meal timing, check out Beachbody’s A Little Obsessed, which goes live on December 20, 2017. This five-day program is a “sampler” of Autumn Calabrese’s new 80 Day Obsession program, which launches in January 2018.
This new fitness and nutrition program features a meal plan that is laid out for you with very specific meal times.
Do You Need to Eat Breakfast?
Breakfast is the first food-related decision you make daily, and White says it’s a no-brainer. “Breakfast literally means breaking your body out of its nightly fast,” he says.
While some people may be able to skip breakfast and still balance the rest of their day in terms of calories and nutrients, it’s not easy or generally recommended.
“If you skip breakfast and then you are ravenously hungry by noon and eat double what you would normally eat for lunch, then you haven’t done yourself any favors,” Benté says.
White is definitely on Team Breakfast: “It spurs metabolism, gives you an energy boost, and it also provides your brain with the fuel that it needs to function at work or school, helping you to concentrate and focus.”
Amy Shapiro, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., embraces the adage “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” She says she loves “the idea of a bigger meal at breakfast, as you are guaranteed to use that energy throughout the day.”
Furthermore, some studies have shown that men who eat breakfast are less likely to gain weight compared with those who do not.
Does Eating Lunch Matter?
Does eating lunch matter? Gordon Gekko, the antagonist of Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, famously crowed that “lunch is for wimps.”
But Gekko is definitely not a role model for healthy living — and eating lunch does matter. Shapiro thinks lunch is your best bet for getting a midday energy boost and avoiding the afternoon slump.
“We need lunch to keep our energy up throughout the day and to prevent us from overeating later in the day,” says Shapiro, a New York-based nutritionist. “If you skip it and let yourself get too hungry, dinner will be too big — and this can ruin your workout goals and weight-loss efforts.”
What if you just don’t have time for lunch? Are your health goals doomed? Benté says no. “If you can go with breakfast and dinner in a day, and eat the appropriate amount of calories then, sure,” you can overlook lunch, she says.
What’s the Right Time to Eat Dinner?
Sleep is a vital component of health, and your nutrition should work in sync with your other healthy habits — not against them.
Hitting the sack with a full belly is unlikely to help you sleep. What’s the right time to eat dinner? It’s best not to eat too close to bedtime (though that’s better than skipping dinner).
“A light dinner about three hours before bed is the best way to make sure your meal is not getting in the way of adequate sleep,” says White, adding that keeping it light will ensure that you are able to burn off some of that energy before bed.
That three-hour window should leave enough time between eating and lying down to let your body get a head start on digestion, so as to not interfere with your ability to get to sleep — and stay asleep.
Eating less than two hours before bedtime isn’t recommended, says Benté. “That’s really to allow digestion to take place before sleep and prevent things like acid reflux.”
How Long Do You Need to Go Without Eating at Night?
If you need to give yourself at least three hours to digest dinner before bed, how long do you need to go without eating at night?
Benté says you should go at least another eight hours — the recommended amount of sleep per night. To determine the timing for your last meal, look at what time you need to get up, and work backward.
If you have to get up at 6 a.m., you will want to be in bed by 10 p.m., so you’ll ideally have dinner by 7 p.m. That gives you 11 hours between meals, and if you eat dinner earlier or tend to eat breakfast later, you’ll naturally have more hours between meals.
While intermittent fasting is a popular diet technique that involves not eating for prescribed periods of time, commonly a 12- to 16-hour period overnight, don’t get too hung up on the exact number of hours.
“If you’re hungry when you wake up, eat — and if you’re not hungry immediately upon waking, wait to eat,” says Benté.
What Is the Best Thing to Eat Before Bed?
If you want to make your bedtime snack part of your recovery routine, what is the best thing to eat before bed?
To support your muscles after your workout, you’ll want to consume a protein that is absorbed slowly, like casein. This gives your body the tools it needs to repair and grow muscles overnight, while you sleep.
While whey protein, which the body absorbs quickly, is a good idea after a workout, “consuming casein, a slow-absorbed protein, before bed can improve muscle gain and fat loss,” says White. “It can also increase metabolism during sleep and improve satiety, helping you to eat less during the day.”
Beachbody Performance Recharge contains casein, and it is specially formulated with key ingredients to help accelerate overnight recovery, combat exercise-induced muscle soreness, and promote muscle protein synthesis.* “That provides a slow release of amino acids throughout the night that’s easy to digest,” says Benté.
“In general, we recommend not consuming foods that are high in processed carbohydrates immediately before bed,” she adds, since carbs provide energy (aka, the last thing you need before bed).
If you’re following a program like 21 Day Fix or Portion Fix, you know how much of each macronutrient you should be eating daily. To figure out your meal timing, take your daily allotment of containers, and outline when you’ll be eating each one throughout the day.
Let’s look at a few other commonly asked questions surrounding meal timing to get your eating plan on point.
How Long Should You Wait to Exercise After Eating Carbs?
One common question related to nutrient timing is: How long should you wait to exercise after eating carbs?
Carbs should be part of your pre-workout snack, which would ideally be a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein about an hour before your sweat session begins. This will give you adequate energy to avoid bonking during your workout.
How Long Before a Workout Should You Eat?
If you go too long without eating, you may not have enough energy to exercise, but eating too close to your sweat session can wreck your workout.
So how long before a workout should you eat? It depends on your personal diet and your goals, but a general recommendation is to eat within three hours of a workout.
How Many Times a Day Should You Eat to Lose Weight? When you’re trying to lose weight, meal timing can be tricky. You don’t want to get too hungry and risk overeating, but you need to keep your daily calorie goal in mind.
How many times a day should you eat to lose weight? “We recommend you eat every two to three hours,” says Benté.
This ensures your body is getting all of the appropriate nutrients and avoids the dreaded “hanger.” “You’re avoiding ever becoming absolutely starving,” says Benté, which can prevent you from blowing your hard work by snacking too much or overeating.
The Bottom Line
While you don’t need to eat by the clock or time your meals down to the minute, frequent and regular meals and snacks are going to help prevent hunger and keep your energy levels steady.
In addition, paying attention to your macro intake before and after workouts can help ensure you have energy from warm-up to cooldown — and your muscles will be primed and ready for next time.
Sit Ups vs. Crunches Which One is Better and what is the difference?
Flat stomach and good abs are probably the pinnacle of fitness achievement for anyone who has started with a diet and workout regimen. Although it goes beyond saying that a trim and slim core is far more appealing than those unflattering stomach rolls, a strong core will also improve your posture and make your exercises more efficient while remaining injury-free. Having said that, it is fair to say that the abs are probably the most stubborn and most difficult muscles to tone (especially for women!) and that a six-pack comes at a serious price of watching your diet and training to your limits. So how do you square the debate between sit ups vs. crunches?
Presuming that youve
cut down on all the food that makes your tummy chubby and you are now looking
for a way to see those attractive ab-delineating lines, it still goes without
saying that you need to be prepared for some serious sweating. The reason
behind the sweat? Lots of and lots of sit ups and crunches!
forms of exercise tend to make your core stronger, you wont see that six-pack
of yours without ab-targeted workouts. Youve all probably heard of sit ups and
crunches, but youll be surprised how many people either confuse them and think
of them as the same exercise or are not quite sure what makes them different. If
you are one of them, stick around while we take a closer look and compare these
two ab-splitting exercises. Its time for the sit ups vs. crunches duel.
What is the difference between crunches and sit ups?
When it comes to crunches vs. sit ups, the main difference is the muscles they target. Although they are both ab-working muscles, sit ups, unlike crunches, target multiple muscles at once. Unfortunately, neither of them targets belly fat directly (you need to stay out of the kitchen and go though the hell of cardio for that!).
The good thing about your core is that you will target some of the muscles with virtually every other bodyweight workout. Take for example squats or lunges both contribute towards a stronger core, beyond their primary purpose.
What muscles do
sit ups work?
Sit ups work the abs and a range of other muscle groups like the chest,
lower back, hip flexors and neck. However, you shouldnt dread building
additional muscles, as muscle cells, due to their higher metabolic activity
compared to fat cells, will make you burn more calories (and consequently fat)
even when you are resting, which will bring you a step closer to a shredded
What muscles do
Crunches work by the principle of intense muscle isolation. They only work
the abdominal muscles, therefore making them the most popular exercise for
those trying to get a six-pack. They are also a perfect exercise for developing
a strong core, which includes the lower back muscles and obliques. And a strong
core translates into better posture and improved balance.
The sit up
vs. crunches discussion inevitably breaks over the benefits of each of these exercises,
which (and this cannot be stressed enough) will be significantly reduced if
proper form is not maintained. So let me get back to the opening question:
Sit ups vs. crunches
which one is better? Well, lets have a
closer look at how these exercises work and then compare them one against the
What are the benefits of crunches and how to do a proper
The crunch works by strengthening the rectus abdominis by flexing it. Although in performing crunches you dont go as high as with the full sit up, this primary abdominal muscle activates during the first 30-45 degrees of movement, or just at the point when you lift the shoulders off the ground.
The crunch has a smaller range of motion compared to the sit up, but that is not necessarily a bad thing as it works your core without putting stress on your back.
One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found out that the Ab-slide exercise shows higher electromyographic activity across the external oblique, upper rectus abdominis and lower rectus abdominis, and is therefore slightly more effective than the crunch. However, the study also concluded that the crunches show significant activity as well, and should therefore not be excluded.
Of course, you
wont see any of the benefits of crunches if you fail to do them correctly. So
in order to maintain proper form, follow the steps below.
build endurance in abdominal muscles. By being an isolated exercise, they help
achieve abdominal endurance faster and more effectively when compared against
other ab exercises. As the purpose of your abs is to stabilize your
mid-section, help you have a good posture, and support you when lifting heavy
objects, one of the best benefits of crunches is that they help you achieve exactly
that which makes them quite the functional exercise.
How to do a
- Lie down on your back and bend
- Put your hands behind your head
or cross them so that palms are touching opposite shoulders
- Draw in your belly button towards
your spine and lift your head, neck and shoulders off the floor (no higher),
exhaling while going up.
- Pause, inhale, and return to the
staring position. Make sure that your feet, low back and tailbone never lose
contact with the ground as you roll up and down.
What are the benefits of sit ups and how to do a proper
As I already mentioned, sit ups work more muscles in your body as opposed to abs only. They are a bodyweight exercise, just like crunches, but the fact that they engage multiple muscle groups means that they are more beneficial for toning your body and developing functional strength compared to crunches. Another of the great benefits of doing sit ups is that they do a great job at stabilizing your muscles and strengthening your core while protecting your spine.
Doing sit ups
will help you increase your range of motion and flexibility, which will in turn
help you maintain a good posture and reduce the risk of back injury or strain.
Here is how to perform
a full sit up:
- Bend your knees and place your
feet flat on the floor
- Put your hands behind your head
or cross them to opposite shoulders
- Draw in your belly button
towards your spine
- Lift your upper body pulling up
from the floor until your elbows reach the knees. Exhale while lifting up.
- Pause for a second, and then
slowly bring your upper body back to the floor. Inhale while lowering.
How about different varieties of each?
When considering each exercise, it is important to note that the crunch offers a far more versatile training program if you know how to vary the basic movement. We published an entire article, with a free video from our workout program, where you can gather some ideas on doing a variety of crunches or a palate of other ab exercises, so make sure to take a look.
The sit up, on the other hand, is not an easy movement to modify. You can hold one dumbbell in your hand in order to increase the resistance on your abs and lower back, or perhaps extend your arm as you reach the highest point going upwards. Another option would be to make a slight twist with your core and therefore target your obliques too.
If you need a comprehensive program that includes some of the most advanced abdominal workouts incorporated across a number of bodyweight training sessions, make sure to check our platform Fitness Updated, where you can find complete nutritional breakdown, recipes, and smart bodyweight training videos.
Sit ups vs. crunches the verdict
While sit ups engage more muscles, they undoubtedly put more strain and stress on your spine, including the neck. However, if not done with proper form, crunches can also lead to back pain, especially in beginners.
As for their
input in achieving the desired flat belly, they are both excellent for
developing and strengthening core muscles. But, if you are still looking for a
definite answer to the question Sit ups or crunches for flat stomach, the
answer goes beyond the crunches vs. sit ups debate. No ab exercise burns fat,
and getting a flat tummy requires combination of these exercises with a
healthy, low-calorie diet as well as regular cardio exercises.
As part of a comprehensive exercise routine, both the crunch and the sit up can help you lose body fat by contributing to an increase of your metabolic rate, as well as a slight but significant increase in muscle tissue around your abdomen. They alone wont shrink your tummy, but will speed the weight loss process dramatically and as you lose belly fat, your newly strengthened abs will start showing.
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Dumbbell Dangers How to Prevent an Injury When Working Out With Dumbbells?
Exercise is a key component to keeping your body and mind fit. Everyone will benefit from working out, but only if you do so correctly. Many different things could go wrong during a workout, so it is important that you prepare and use the proper precautions. An accident that leads to injury will hamper your workout progress more than just about anything else, so it pays to be extra careful.
you are picking up dumbbells for the first time, or you are someone
who has been consistently pumping iron for 30 years, everyone needs to follow
some basic guidelines for staying sage at the gym. Gym equipment is designed to
be as safe as it can be, but no design in the world is going to be able to
account for human error. So, play it safe and you should be sweating and aching
in all the right places.
Keep reading to
find out how you can prevent an injury while training with dumbbells.
Stretch Before and After
The first bit of
advice is something that a fair amount of exercise enthusiasts seem to forget
about more often than not. Stretching is so important to get your
muscles, tendons, and joints ready for the upcoming punishment. It helps make
everything looser, oxygenated, and generally more prepared to exercise.
By stretching out your muscles properly, before and after, you are also going to do your best to prevent pesky muscle tears that can put you out of commission for a long time. Just do your best to get a proper stretch and get your blood flowing before you really start your workout. Thats one of the best ways to avoid a dumbbell injury.
Know Your Limits
Yes, the point of exercising and working out is to get stronger and better at the particular exercises you do. However, this does not mean that you should push yourself too hard too soon. Your body can only take so much punishment before it starts to ache, so it is probably a bad idea to add an extra 50 kilos to your max bench press. Using too much weight too soon is one of the most common rookie mistakes that can result in major injuries, so it pays to know your limits.
Your limits here
dont have to be on weight alone, as not everyone is going to work out with weights.
Cardiovascular activities such as running and cycling is are great ways to get
your heart pumping so you can burn off excess calories, but only if you listen
to your body. If your legs start cramping or you start feeling the pain you
need to know it is time to stop or drastically slow down.
Why is it important to take it slow?
A dumbbell workout, having in mind the muscle it can target, will always be a co-depended one. This means that you will rarely ever do it in isolation from other types of training. Most people put their dumbbell workout on chest day, when they can work their entire pectoral area, but also the biceps.
It goes without
saying that a demanding routine on the bench will leave little room for a
demanding session with a pair of dumbbells. So what is my advice? Take the
first part of the workout slow, and you can exert more power when you finally
lift those dumbbells.
The same goes for doing cardio, or just about anything else. If the dumbbell workout succeeds another one, make sure that you pace yourself during the first part of your training session, as to avoid a dumbbell injury.
This tip can save you from hours of agonizing muscle cramps, which as anyone whos ever experienced this will tell you really, really hurts. When working out, you are naturally going to sweat a lot, thats if you are doing it right and youre giving your muscles a thorough workout. Keep in mind that everything that goes out of your body is going to need to be replenished.
Make sure to keep lots of water on hand and even a sports drink or two to help replenish those electrolytes and salts lost through sweat. Water, really is the essence of life, and you are going to be doing your body a big favour by staying hydrated while exercising.
Listen to Your Body to avoid a dumbbell injury
Everyone is going to have different abilities and skill levels at the gym, so it is difficult to say exactly what an individual workout should look like. Your best gauge of success with exercise is to listen to what your body is telling you. Some mild aches and pains are a good thing and come with the territory, but overdoing the set is one of the ways to cause a dumbbell injury.
If you notice
something is too painful or just not right, it is time to listen as your body
is telling you something is wrong. Ultimately, though, your body will take some
time to adjust to the workout and its very likely youll feel stiff the next
day, but if you take on board the aforementioned tips then youll increase your
bodys conditioning and improve recovery time.
movements with the dumbbells
In order to get the most out of your dumbbell workout, you will have to perform slow and controlled movements. This is the only way to activate the proper muscles, and also ensure the greatest amount of burn.
But going slow is not only about efficiency. It has to do with staying injury-free as well. If you perform the repetitions with a jerky movement, you can easily strain yourself and be out of the gym for days.
Using the dumbbell for different exercises
The only rule you need to remember when using the dumbbell for different types of exercise, is to keep correct form. If , say, you are doing a front loaded squat, where the weight is supplied by the dumbbell, you only have to make sure to keep the proper posture for the squat.
It is also important to bend your back slowly when putting the weights down, since most of the lower back injuries happen after the set is actually over. Dumbbell relate injuries definitely fall within this category!
All in all, if youre the type of person who regularly works out then youll already know that proper pace and energy awareness are the best precaution mechanisms when it comes to injury prevention. Always remember that before you start to work out you should be adequately fed and hydrated. Do also note that you have to stretch your muscles to prevent muscle strains.
Try not to overwork yourself and know your limits, since for as much as you might want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, you need to get there incrementally and over-lifting is the fastest way to an early gym hiatus. The best way to avoid a dumbbell injury is to follow some of the tips above, and take it one step at a time.
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HGH Therapy For Athletic Performance What You Need To Know
By now, you probably have heard about HGH therapy. Its been discussed on various platforms, more specifically about how it relates to athletic performance. It is every athletes wish to be able to maintain their stamina and strength throughout their life, but as the effects of aging catch up, it sometimes proves to be challenging. Well, in as much as many athletes have already joined the buzz, there is still a lot of research that is being done on HGH therapy for athletic performance.
But first, let us understand the basics of the growth hormone.
What is HGH?
The human growth hormone, commonly known as HGH, is produced at
the base of the brain in the pituitary glands. The production of the growth
hormone usually is at its peak during childhood and puberty, and as the clock
ticks and age catches up with us, the production slowly decreases.
HGH production is also higher when we sleep as compared to daytime.
This is more reason why athletes are always advised to get enough sleep, as
part of enhancing their overall performance. An optimal supply of the growth
hormone in the body builds and repairs tissues by stimulating the release of
IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1).
HGH therapy and athletic performance
As mentioned above, a sufficient supply of the
growth hormone plays a significant role in building muscles and burning excess
fat throughout the body. Therefore, when there is a deficiency of the hormone, the
opposite tends to happen your lean body mass starts to decrease, bone density
goes down, and you enjoy less stamina and strength.
For this reason, many athletes today have faced the stigma associated with HGH replacement therapy and changed their mind. All with the goal to maintain their performance in the field, and stay in shape regardless of age.
Precaution, however, must be in place. Many athletes are considering clinics without doing their due diligence and research. It is crucial to understand how replacement therapy works, since more often than not it can end up causing more harm than good. As such, it is best if athletes could find out more about weight loss as it relates to hormone therapy.
The short version of the story is that the Human Growth Hormone is responsible for cell reproduction, regeneration and growth. Being a naturally occurring hormone, that is produced in the pituitary gland, it is tasked with many things like slowing down the aging process or treating most age-related diseases. But the HGH also stimulates the liver with the goal of creating a protein quite similar to insulin, which later produces cartilage cells. This, in turn, helps organ growth while also being responsible for muscle protein synthesis. So naturally, we associate this hormone with increased performance, and also weight loss.
But the mechanics of HGH therapy is a rather complicated topic to explore in this short article, so youll have to spend extra hours researching how it works in relation to improving your BMI, and ultimately performance. We tracked few studies that show controversial results, which only further illuminates the need for detailed research on your part. Needless to say, Google alone wont suffice eventually you will have to consult with a medical professional.
The growth hormone is listed on the prohibited World Anti- Doping Agency list of anabolic agents. In fact, most sports associations and leagues such as the International Olympic Committee, National Football League, Major League Baseball and World Anti-Doping Agency have banned it. What this means is that any athlete, be it a junior athlete, an elite athlete or a masters level athlete is at the risk of disqualification once the tests show that they are abusing GH.
A team in California performed a research study to compare the effects of HGH on athletic performance compared to that of a placebo, to a group of about 440 people who were mostly men. About 303 of them received the HGH injections while 137 volunteers received the placebo. The 303 volunteers received the HGH injections daily, for about 20 days. The results showed that the people who had received the HGH injections have added about 4.6-5 pounds of lean body mass. However, the gains in lean body mass did not necessarily improve the exercise capacity and performance of the subjects. The results also showed that the volunteers who got the placebo injections were less fatigued and also retained less fluid compared to those that received the HG injections.
Needless to say, there is conflicting evidence as to whether or not HGH therapy improves athletic performance by as much as previously though. A safer path, perhaps, is lifting heavy weights and creating a caloric surplus.
Bodyweight workouts wont help you get the same results as training with resistance, but if you are adamant on exercising using your own weight only, then perhaps consider intense supersets that target several muscle groups at once.
Side effects of HGH
Like any other treatment, however, side effects are always a
possibility. It is, therefore, important to note that since our bodies are
different, we all react differently to all treatments, including HGH
replacement therapy. As such, some of the side effects might be similar, while
some might totally differ. Studies have shown that close to 30% of
HGH patients experience some side effects. Having said that, Let us now look at
some of the side effects of HGH therapy;
- Muscle pain
- Increased risk of heart diseases
- High blood pressure
- Fluid retention
- High cholesterol levels
The takeaway HGH for athletic performance
Now that you are more informed, understand how the growth
hormone works, and what is its importance, the big question remains should
you consider HGH therapy?
Well, it is evident that HGH therapy can have immense benefits,
but since its use for improved performance is banned in the athletic arena, it
is best to choose natural methods of boosting the growth hormone in your body.
That is, if you actively compete. Bodybuilding has been proven to affect your
growth hormone levels, especially if you lift heavy and add a caloric surplus
to your diet.
If, on the other hand, you are out of the court and field, you
should definitely talk to a qualified professional and go through all of the
pros and cons before making up your mind. Although relatively new in the public
eye, HGH therapy has been well established for many years now, and it is a
viable alternative to weight loss methods and different strategies for
improving athletic performance.
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