We lead busy lives, working relentlessly to keep our heads above water. That being said, humans are meant to be busy. We’re capable of achieving a LOT in one day, but a lack of self-care makes that harder than it should be.

Personally, I’m a newlywed who just moved countries, has two jobs and trains 2-3 hours a day. This makes skipping the gym and heading home with take out an easy excuse for many people.

Since I work for WAG, I can’t bear the irony of that scenario. So how do I produce quality work, train well, clock 8 hours of sleep and maintain positivity?

Nutrient timing! AKA, eating to fuel my day according to my activities.

When we hear “nutrient timing,” we think of improving our athletic performance through pre and post-workout meals, supplements and carb cycling.

Outside of athletic performance, proper nutrition can slip. We eat food regardless of its nutrient value because it fits our macros. Sometimes we won’t eat at all, hoarding our macros for a feast at night (e.g. dinner with family).

Eating sub-optimal food — or not eating at all causes fatigue, lack of focus, zero motivation and a negative mood or mindset. Your good intentions can backfire and lead to overeating because you’re hungry and moody.

Take the principles of nutrient timing and apply them to your daily activities. You’ll operate a hectic lifestyle like a well-oiled machine, and you’ll do it with a smile on your face!

The right fuel works by:

  • Energizing you for general activity. Stop feeling sluggish!
  • Improving your mood, positivity and mindset.
  • Sustaining focus. Feel good and be more productive at work!
  • Sustaining energy. No more scrambling for afternoon pick-me-ups!
  • Preparing and facilitating a good night's sleep so you can do it all again tomorrow!

When planning your meals don’t just think about your workout — think about your entire day.

Always Eat Low-GI, High Volume Carbohydrates

Whether you train twice daily and work a full-time job or you're more of a 9-5 weekend warrior type, prioritizing low-GI and high volume carbs is essential for everyone.

Low-GI carbs release slowly into your system without a huge insulin spike. This means energy is steadily sustained throughout your day without causing you to crash later.

High volume carbs mean you can eat a lot of them for little carbs/calories, making you feel full. They’re typically nutrient-dense too, which makes a world of a difference for your energy levels and bodily functions.

Foods that are both low-GI and high volume are:

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • Summer Squash
  • Mushrooms
  • Leafy greens: spinach, iceberg, kale
  • 0% fat yogurt
  • Pickles
  • Condiments, herbs and spices: mustard, hot sauce, salt and pepper, basil, oregano

Fat to Sustain Energy

Fat delivers vitamins and nutrients throughout your system and is vital for brain and organ function. Fat plays a primary role in keeping you satiated (feeling full), which is important for keeping false hunger queues at bay. That way you can stay focused and energized!

Add a fat source to each meal and you’ll have a skip in your step all day long:

  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Nut butter
  • Dark chocolate
  • Avocado
  • Cheese
  • Mayonnaise and aioli
  • Pesto
  • Cream
  • Egg yolks and animal fat

Choose High-GI Carbs Carefully

High-GI Carbs are not just for your workouts, but they should be prioritized for physical exertion. If you have a laborious job, are on your feet all day or do multiple training sessions or staggered physical activities over 24 hours, you need to restore the glycogen levels in your body. Do this by eating high-GI carbs mixed with the low-GI, high volume and moderate fat we mentioned earlier.

Before, during and immediately after you’ve finished your physical activities, eat high-GI, whole carb sources like:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Rice
  • Potato
  • Sweet Potato
  • Beetroot
  • Turnip
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Apples
  • Oranges

Pro-tip: The longer the duration of your activity, the further you should spread your intake of high-GI carbs over your day. This will help to keep your energy up and your glycogen stores full.

Protein Keeps on Building

Eating protein after your workout is great, but it shouldn’t stop there. Your body is always producing protein synthesis and working to repair before your next intense bout of exercise. Keep a steady flow of protein coming like:

  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Game meat
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Eggs
  • Protein powder

Extra Protein at Night

We lose more muscle while we sleep than while we are awake, so ensure you’re eating some before bed. However, we also repair muscle best during sleep [1]. Micellar casein proteins release slowly and help you sleep deeply. Try consuming casein protein at night. Check out these blog posts and recipes for more information on casein protein while you sleep.

Late Night Protein Treats For Recovery
Protein at Night: Eating and Sleeping for Recovery

To Close, Always Hydrate

Last but not least, keep your water intake up all day. Hydration is critical to the healthy function of your muscles and organs and is also a big player in your energy levels and satiation.

[1] Stuart M. Phillips, Ph.D., Professor in the McMaster University Department of Kinesiology