What Aspects of Nutrient Timing Matter Most?

Nutrient timing is strategically planning meals, snacks, and supplements around one’s exercise routine to provide the body with the proper nutrients to maximize results, whether it is hypertrophy, fat loss, or improved sports performance. (1)

On March 28, 2024, Renaissance Periodization published a video on its YouTube channel featuring exercise scientist Dr. Mike Israetel debunking common myths about nutrient timing. Israetel shared what he believes to be the most important factors for promoting muscle growth:

4 Important Nutrition Timing Factors For Hypertrophy

Eating at least four high-protein meals spread evenly throughout the day (every three to six hours).

Consuming enough protein, carbs, and fats (calories) to meet daily macro goals.

Having enough energy to train and eating protein and carb-rich post-workout meals.

Eating within two hours of training.

Check out the video below:

[Related: The Most Effective Vitamin D3 Dosage, According to a Nutrition Coach]

7 Nutrient Timing Tips

Israetel discusses seven things you shouldn’t worry about regarding nutrient timing.

1. Number of Meals Per Day

Whether you eat four, five, or six meals per day won’t significantly impact your results. The important factor is eating at least four meals daily and spacing them evenly throughout the day, every three to six hours.

“Eating more than four meals a day is not going to move the needle hardly at all if you keep other things constant,” said Israetel. 

2. Amount of Protein Per Meal

Determine the ideal amount of protein per meal by dividing your daily protein intake goal by the number of meals you eat. “Anything roughly close to the number is good to go,” said Israetel, who advised against chasing arbitrary numbers like 40, 50, or 60 grams of protein per meal. 

Don’t stress about hitting an exact amount of protein per meal. As long as your total daily protein intake aligns with your goals (roughly your body weight in grams), slight variations between meals won’t make a difference.

3. Carbohydrates Spread Throughout the Day

Eat enough carbs in pre-workout meals to ensure sufficient glycogen reserves to fuel your workouts. Israetel recommends varying carb intake (low, moderate, and high) before a workout to determine what works best for you. He emphasizes eating a high-carb meal post-workout to replenish the depleted glycogen stores. 

Image via Shutterstock/Vita Sun

Israetel prescribes evenly spreading carb intake throughout the day for sustained energy levels and optimal recovery.

4. Protein Digestion Speed

Israetel recommends drinking a casein protein shake for those who don’t eat anything for a few hours after workouts. Conversely, a whey protein supplement for a post-workout meal.

Whey protein shakes can help build muscle by spiking the rate of protein synthesis. Whey digests faster than casein, but casein protein doesn’t trigger as large of a spike in protein synthesis as whey. C

asein supplements provide a slower, more sustained release of amino acids into the bloodstream, preventing muscle breakdown over a longer period.

At the end of the day, casein and whey protein deliver similar results.

[Read More: Does Creatine Help You Build Muscle? A Certified Nutrition Coach Weighs In]

5. Eating Immediately Upon Waking

Some bodybuilders consume protein immediately after waking up. For those who have multiple high-protein meals throughout the day, there is no significant advantage to a protein shake upon waking up. 

6. Fasted Cardio vs. Fed-State Cardio

“Cardio isn’t this magic thing that burns tons of fat,” said Israetel. “What it really does is it takes your overall calorie deficit and sinks it lower.”

Per Israetel, performing a cardio workout fasted or after eating has negligible differences. What truly matters is burning extra calories and hitting the target deficit for one’s goals.

[Learn More: Does Cardio Burn Fat? The Anatomy of a Fitness Myth]

7. Eating Before Bed

Prioritize high-quality sleep without stressing about timing bedtime meals to optimize recovery. Israetel recommends timing the day’s final meal according to one’s training goals.

Bodybuilders in a bulking phase should aim to eat three hours before bed, whereas those in the maintenance or cutting phase can eat up to one hour before sleep. 


Arent, S. M., Cintineo, H. P., McFadden, B. A., Chandler, A. J., & Arent, M. A. (2020). Nutrient Timing: A Garage Door of Opportunity? Nutrients, 12(7), 1948. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12071948

Featured image via Shutterstock/Vita Sun

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