The debate around meal timing for making gains in the gym has been raging for eons, and many people choose to chug down a protein shake following a workout to get those all-important nutrients into their system as fast as possible, but another school of thought believes that as long as you eat enough during the day, your body will always have a pool of macros to raid whenever it requires them. In a recent, but by no means last study on this subject, meal timing was shown to be crucial as relates to gaining strength.

How Was the Study Carried Out?

The study, authored by experts at the Department of Clinical Nutrition in Lahore, Pakistan, looked at a sample of 20 male adults aged between 18 and 55 years of age. All of the participants engaged in a resistance training program for four months, but they were split into two groups.

  • Group A: Subjects consumed a balanced diet spaced throughout the day
  • Group B: Subjects consumed most of their nutrients pre and post workout

The Effect of Meal Timing and Working Out?

While this recent study adds further weight to the debate, the sample size was relatively low here. The study also didn’t take into consideration other influential factors such as metabolism variations or dietary preferences. Still, the findings were stark and give further food for thought.

While all of the participants in the study engaged in resistance training, and received almost the same reduction in bodyfat after those four months, the difference in each group’s average one rep max was significant. Those who spaced their nutrients throughout the day were able to increase their 1 RPM by 19%, but those who focussed on pre and post workout meals upped their 1 RPM by 40%. The results appear to support many other reports, including a 2006 study  that concluded “supplement-timing represents a simple but effecting strategy that enhances adaptations…” It is thought that these superior changes in body composition are brought about because nutrients are more likely to get to our fast (fast twitch) type II muscle fibers — built for short, powerful bursts of energy. This new study bolsters the belief that concentrating our meals so that they are close in proximity to our training is a solid approach. “The use of pre and post workout meal(s) helps a person in increasing both strength and muscle mass,” it said. “So, the persons whose basic goal is to build more muscles and increase strength should use pre and post workout meal(s) according to the needs.” It’s an interesting study, supporting many people’s staunch approach to meal timing, but the debate around what to eat and when for building muscle is unlikely to be settled any time soon.