Timing of carbohydrates and fats

Timing of carbohydrates and fats

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In these cut months everyone seems to be awake from hibernation and the questions about diet and losing weight keep coming in; we have already dealt extensively with many issues concerning diets; diet myths have been discussed, how you cutting can best be tackled without tracking kcals, which mistakes are usually made when cutting, And so on. After reading these articles you should be able to come a long way with losing weight; today, however, I want to elaborate on the timing of certain foods; We also talked about timing earlier, namely nutrition around your workouts. Today I want to elaborate on the timing of carbohydrates and fats.

Please note, the article below only applies if the rest of your diet is correct. As you can read in 'the energy balance'there is no dietary trick that allows you to lose weight without an energy shortage. However, by supplying the right food at the right time, we can influence our body composition somewhat more, either directly or indirectly. Even if the effects are small, just stack them up long enough and you will definitely see results! I am not going to give a chemistry lesson in this article about what carbohydrates and fats are, how they are digested and absorbed and what effect they have on blood values ​​and cells etc. If you find this interesting, I can of course devote an article to it here, but I would like to focus this article on the practical part.

Ready? Here we go!



Let's start with the carbs. Carbohydrates have a somewhat bad name when it comes to losing weight. Partly also because of the hormone that is important in its absorption; insulin. However, carbohydrates are not inherently good or bad, they are only a means. We can survive without (think of the keto diet), but when you want to perform optimally, carbohydrates definitely play a major role. By timing your carbohydrates well, (especially in a cut!) You can get the most out of it.

In this article, by the way, I refer to carbohydrates that actually do something with blood sugar. Dietary fiber is also part of the carbohydrates, but I will not take this into consideration during this article. Dietary fiber has a very limited influence on glycogen levels. I never include carbohydrates from vegetables and nuts in my total carb intake (or as kcal intake!) For this reason.

A general guideline is to use your carbohydrates when you need them. In general this will be around your training, especially when we look at today's society. People are generally not very active, so consumption of a high-performance fuel such as glycogen will not be very high during the rest of the day.


Assuming you do not train early in the morning, carbohydrate intake at breakfast is not really important. Many people have breakfast with fruit juice and muesli or oatmeal and there is nothing wrong with that. If we look at diet optimization and the useful use of carbohydrates, however, this moment of the day is one of the least essential.

Pre workout

You would optimally eat this meal an hour or 2 before your workout. Carbohydrate intake with this meal is somewhat personal, some people train well without consuming carbohydrates right now. This also depends on which training incentive your goal is upcoming training; for a workout with the focus on strength, carbohydrates are less essential in advance. You can use this meal to have more energy during your training and to supplement glycogen to some extent, but your glycogen reserves should already be reasonably good to maintain.

If you are currently installing carbs, the somewhat slow-digesting ones would be a good choice here.


post workout

Since strength training makes your muscles more sensitive to carbohydrate intake (this can be further influenced by specific training methods), your post workout meal is the time to consume a large proportion of your carbohydrates. Apart from a better absorption capacity of muscle tissue (leaving less glucose for adipose tissue to absorb) your muscles can absorb glucose after an intensive workout without the intervention of extra insulin. As a result, the chance is small that consumed carbohydrates that are currently consumed are absorbed by fat tissue and stored there. So take post workout the majority of your carbs, with a preference for faster-absorbing carbohydrates, which are not high in fiber. Consider, for example, white rice or potatoes.

This meal is therefore a perfect time to replenish your glycogen stores. Assuming that you do not perform high intensity activities for the rest of the day, you will also consume little glycogen for the rest of the day.

Dinner / Pre bed

When you train in the evening, this meal will probably be your post workout meal, or your pre workout meal yourself. In that case the rules above apply.

In addition, some carbohydrates before bed can help with your sleep. Rest and nutrition can cause your body to be in a 'rest and digest' state, among other things because insulin and cortisol are a kind of counterpart to each other. If you have trouble resting before bed and / or sleeping through, you could try planning some of your carbohydrates in the evening; perhaps the effect on your sleep quality is favorable.



The timing of fats is less moment-dependent than that of carbs. However, fats do have an effect on, for example, the absorption rate of other foods / emptying the stomach towards the small intestine. For this indirect reason, the timing of fats can still make a difference for performance, even though the direct effect may not be very present. We can be a lot shorter about fats because we have already fixed our carbohydrate moments.

Since we have just read about carbohydrates that it is precisely the meals around your training (and certainly your post workout) that carbohydrate intake is important, these are the meals on which we want to limit fat intake; in this way we can prevent a potentially slower uptake of the other nutrients. When we organize our diet according to these guidelines, you will always end up with meals that contain carbohydrate and protein (low in fat), or fat and protein (and low in carbohydrate). Again, I do not include carbohydrates from vegetables.

For most people, this would be a good time in the morning to get a fair amount of fats. They provide you with energy, breakfast is usually not very close to the training and in addition, fats are important for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (in addition to a whole slew of other health effects). Fats are essential for different processes in your body.

When you are cutting deep you can choose to move your fats more towards rest days. That way you create more space for carbohydrate intake on training days. However, this means that your food choice on rest days becomes a lot more limited, since you will eat little carbohydrates!


Don't forget your personal situation and the energy balance!

There you have it! This is one possibility of what the timing of your macros might look like to get more out of your workouts and nutrition. Remember that a diet is always individual and that what works for person A does not have to work at all for person B. In addition, the energy balance always remains the leading factor in both gaining and losing weight! Timing is completely secondary to that, but it can be a means to push your results a little further!

Finally, a good general tip for the coming period, now that the summer days and vacations are coming again

An unhealthy or not optimally nourished body will certainly not perform optimally. This is a good rule of thumb when you are wondering if certain foods or habits will have an effect on muscle growth. Think of smoking, alcohol on the weekend, poor sleep, no vegetables and fruit, poor food quality, stress and hundreds of examples. If something has a direct or indirect effect on your health, there will in any case be a direct or indirect effect on muscle growth or body composition in the long (er) term.

Jan Willem van der Klis

Instagram: @Jay_Whey

This blog is written by

Jan Willem van der Klis

"My focus is on obtaining and disseminating the best possible knowledge to optimize training and nutrition"

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