3 Reasons Meal Timing Matters for Bikini Body Building
Here are three reasons why you should include meal timing in your bikini body building training, from our Head of Nutrition, Sheridan Skye.
What does the research say?
Does meal timing matter?
Like with all things, context matters. If we are looking purely at fat loss we can be sure that if you apply a calorie deficit, it doesn’t really matter when you consume your meals, it just matters that you eat less calories than your body burns.
But if you’re looking to build your best bikini body or even optimise your performance and health, in or out of a deficit, then meal timing matters a little more. But before we jump into the caveats, I want to break a few myths:
- Eating fewer, smaller meals throughout the day doesn’t ‘increase’ your metabolism.
- The ‘30 minute anabolic window’ doesn’t exist.
- Managing your blood sugar levels isn’t something most people need to worry about (albeit there are some conditions which call for greater focus on blood sugar levels).
- Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day.
- Your body can absorb more than 30g of protein at a time.
Now, let’s get back to the point. If you look at the results Mark’s bikini body building clients have achieved over the years you fall within a special subgroup of people who aren’t chasing simple fat loss – you are a person who is looking to achieve the best physique of your life and a total transformation! This kind of goal requires more intention, precision and optimisation of variables that will take your physique from mediocre to elite. So, if this sounds like something you are chasing, then read on.
It’s true that meal timing doesn’t matter when it comes to achieving a certain rate of fat loss, but meal timing does matter for a few different reasons which we will cover in this blog.
Reason #1 – Growing muscle requires regular feedings of protein evenly spaced throughout the day
I wrote an in-depth article on this topic, so I won’t go too in-depth here. Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is a process by which muscle cells build proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle tissue, so MPS is essential for muscle growth. MPS occurs in response to exercise, particularly resistance training. The rate of MPS decreases with age, so older adults have to work harder to maintain muscle mass. However, there are several things that can help to improve MPS, including adequate protein intake, regular exercise, and certain supplements like creatine and whey protein. There is a general recommendation that MPS is optimised with an intake of 20–25 g of a high-quality protein, consistent with the “muscle full” effect.
Without getting too technical and turning this into a biochemistry lesson, the muscle full effect basically means that the anabolic response to feeding lasts only for a short period of time, even if there are amino acids available. This means that regular feedings of protein throughout the day ensures that MPS can be optimised and therefore, help you grow and build your bikini body.
Reason #2 – Circadian feeding
The term ‘circadian feeding’ refers to the practice of aligning one’s meals with the body’s natural rhythms. The human body is designed to operate on a 24-hour cycle, and this cycle is known as the circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is regulated by an internal ‘biological clock’ that responds to light and darkness. This clock dictates when we feel hungry or tired, and it also plays a role in regulating our metabolism. Research has shown that disruptions to the circadian rhythm can lead to weight gain, as well as other health problems. For this reason, many experts now recommend following a circadian feeding schedule in order to promote optimal health. This involves eating the majority of calories during the daytime hours and reducing calorie intake at night. By aligning our meals with our body’s natural rhythms, we can help to optimise our health and well-being. This way of eating may not be appropriate for everyone, and more research is needed (in my opinion) to solidify the theory, but it might be something to think about, especially if you experience poor sleep quality.
Reason #3 – Performance
Carbohydrates are essential for athletes and other physically active people. They are the body’s primary source of fuel, and they help to improve athletic performance and are key to bikini body building. Carbohydrates can be found in a variety of foods. There are loads of theories circulating the fitness industry when it comes to meal timing. Some of the common theories suggest that breakfast is the most important meal of the day or that if you don’t consume protein within 30 minutes of your training session then you will become ‘catabolic’ and lose all your gains. Other theories state eating small, regular meals throughout the day ‘boosts’ your metabolism and keeps your blood sugar stable, therefore leading to better weight control.
Sources of carbohydrates include breads, pastas, rice, fruits, and vegetables. Athletes and other physically active people need more carbohydrates than sedentary people because they use more energy. The best time to consume carbohydrates is before and during exercise. This helps to replenish glycogen stores. Consuming carbohydrates after exercise is also important because it helps to promote recovery. In general, most people seem to perform best if they have a meal 2-3 hours before training.
So there you have it. Meal timing does matter if you are looking to optimise your training, performance and physique and take your bikini body building to the next level. Take these tips into consideration the next time you plan out your meals and your goals.
Yours in health,
Head of Nutrition