The Nutrition Timing System – NTS

Understanding the body, nutrition, and how to avoid storing energy as fat is easier than trying every fad diet and weight loss program. The Nutrition Timing System is, in essence, a habit that becomes metabolically autonomic with regular exercise. Much like circadian rhythms and sleep, the body can establish a habit for nutrition. I often say that if you go to bed every night at 10 p.m. and wake up every morning at 6 a.m. you will no longer need an alarm clock. The body simply wakes up. After 24 years in the US Army, my sleep habit is living proof of this fact.

When it comes to gaining and losing weight, there are hundreds if not thousands of theories and plans out there. Using the nutrition timing system, I teach clients to convince the body that there will never be a shortage of food. We want the body to understand that it never needs to store food for times of famine. If we convince the body not to store food, then it should retain nutritional value and pass or burn anything it doesn’t need with exercise and an active lifestyle.

We want the body to be high functioning and efficient in the use of nutrients. When it comes to nutrition there are three macronutrients. Carbohydrates include sugars and starches of every type. Typically speaking, fruits and vegetables as well as grains will have a lot of carbohydrate value. Carbohydrates are essential in giving us energy. Glycolysis requires glycogen, which is produced from carbohydrates first. Once carbs are used up, the body burns protein for energy.

The second macronutrient is protein. Typically speaking, protein is going to come from meat, beans, or legume products. The body needs protein to build muscle. It is essential to have the appropriate amount of protein in our diet in order to produce healthy and strong muscle (hypertrophy). The body cannot produce every amino acid we need, so we require protein to live.

The third macronutrient is the fat category. We want healthy fats whenever possible, which can be burned for energy, but fat is used as a last resort (after carbs and proteins are gone). The body needs omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for brain health (focus and cognition). The problem with fats is that when it comes to caloric value fats are not only harder to burn, but they have twice the caloric value as protein or carbohydrate sources. Specifically, carbohydrates and proteins give us 4 calories per gram of food that we take into our bodies. Fat has 9 calories per gram. It only makes sense that if we want to feel full and keep caloric intake low, fats usually end up on the chopping block. Use caution with this thinking, even if mathematically it makes sense. Again, the body and brain need omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

So when it comes to healthy eating and building the proper nutrition timing system, we want the body to adapt, even expect proper nutrition all day, every day. From the moment we wake up, we are in need of nutrition. A strong and healthy body requires a good breakfast. Most people skip breakfast these days. Not only have we gone 6 to 8 hours without eating after bedtime (while we sleep) but many people choose to go an additional 3 to 4 hours waiting on lunch. The body goes into famine/storage mode thinking every calorie it gets must be stored. It is as if we are preparing for hard times. It is an essential adaptation that has kept mankind alive. I encourage every client to eat a healthy breakfast to avoid triggering this famine mode.

So what should we eat for breakfast? I try not to tell my clients what they must eat or what they can’t eat because that often causes stress and anxiety, which releases cortisol, which is a hormone that helps us to retain weight (again, famine mode). Instead, if clients want to eat pancakes with syrup; eggs, bacon, and sausage; or even a bowl of sugar-coated cereal, I encourage them to listen to their body and do so in moderation. If the body wants pancakes with syrup and butter or cereal, which are high in carbohydrates, then feel free to eat those things (again, in moderation). If the body wants eggs, bacon, or sausage then, again, we should listen to the body. I believe the body knows best (more on this later). At a minimum, we should eat a little fruit or fruit juice, a protein shake, or at least toast with peanut butter to get the day started. Failing to eat breakfast is the first step in convincing the body there is going to be a food shortage, which triggers a predictable reaction. The body tends to store every calorie we take in in famine mode.

So if we eat breakfast at 6 or 7 in the morning, then we want to convince the body about two to three hours later that there is still plenty of food, even though it’s not time for lunch. A handful of walnuts or almonds or any good tree nut is sufficient to take the edge off of hunger. Yogurt or an apple or banana are also good healthy mid-morning snacks. There should be some sort of healthy snack at about 10 a.m. (assuming the client is awake at 6 a.m.)

At approximately twelve o’clock (noon), we should be eating lunch. This is always assuming that we’re waking up at 6 a.m. and going to bed at 10 p.m. Obviously, the schedule could change for those who work swing shift or graveyard shift. Needless to say, at lunchtime, whenever we schedule the second largest meal of the day, we should eat a healthy meal, and it should be the last meal of the day where we eat a meal with heavy carbohydrates. The lunch meals should have carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The reason is because there still enough time in the day to burn those calories. A salad with chicken or tuna is good. A sandwich with chips is acceptable. Even a hamburger and french fries on occasion is fine (all things in moderation). Whatever you decide to have for lunch, this meal should have the nutrients that your body needs at that time. For those people who are very active, more carbohydrates and proteins are in order. If you have a desk job or a less-active lifestyle, then perhaps a salad is best. Whatever the case, make the lunch meal healthy and well-balanced.

The second snack of the day should occur around 3 p.m. or approximately two to three hours after lunch. Again, we’re talking about a handful of healthy almonds, walnuts, or perhaps small cup of yogurt. Choose something healthy that you can eat to remind the body that there’s no shortage of food.

After 3 p.m., I recommend that we shut off all complex carbohydrates. When it comes to white flour (bread), white pasta, white potatoes, white rice, or white sugar let’s consume those things before 3 p.m. I encourage my clients to avoid anything white on the plate except cauliflower. For those people who enjoy spaghetti or lasagna for dinner, I encourage them to eat that for lunch and have a healthy salad or something more green oriented for dinner. The reason behind this is simple. Most people slow down between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. By the time they get home, they sit on the sofa and watch TV, play on their laptop, or read a book. We have a habit of being a sedentary people after 5 p.m. Conversely, if we know we’re going to be active, then we want to be able to perform. For example, a late-night exercise routine will require carbohydrates for energy. Again, we want to listen to the body, and it will tell us what we need.

I encourage clients to use their hand as a guide for how much to eat at dinnertime. The palm of the hand is about the size of a reasonable portion of meat suitable for dinnertime, preferably a white meat (chicken and fish). The palm and extended fingers represent the approximate amount of vegetables we can consume at dinnertime. Preferably, we want to eat green vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and so forth (avoid corn and legumes, which can be starchy). Remember, the protein is used to repair muscle and to build on the work we’ve done that day (hypertrophy). The green, leafy vegetables are going to provide the micronutrients we need for good health, and they also tend to fill us up in a healthy way. If we eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables at dinnertime, we won’t be as tempted to eat cake, ice cream, or other high-fat/high-sugar snacks. Assuming that our mid-afternoon snack was at 3 p.m., we should probably be eating dinner by 6 or 7. We should be going to bed roughly 3–4 hours later. This concludes the basic strategy for the nutrition timing system.

As a reminder, I don’t worry too much about clients eating a piece of cake from time to time or a donut or anything else that the body might want. I remind my clients that when all is said and done, the body is simply a calculator. If we take in 2,000 calories each day and we burn 2,000 calories each day, then we will neither gain nor lose weight. If we are active, those 2,000 calories should go toward building muscle and good health. If we are inactive, those 2,000 calories will become fat and we will actually lose muscle. Likewise, if we eat 2,000 calories and we burn 2,500 calories, then we actually burned more than we consumed and we will lose weight. Over time, the body will become very efficient. If it is a habit for you to eat approximately 2,000 calories, the body will make the most of those 2,000 calories. Lastly, if we eat 2,000 calories but we only burn 1,500 calories, then we will gain 500 calories that day. Those 500 calories will be stored as fat. The body can turn absolute garbage into energy if that’s all it has, but we will need micronutrients to be healthy. We want to eat a well-balanced meal three times a day and have two snacks in between meals so the body is confident we are not in a famine.

For additional information contact us at: toe2toeconway@gmail.com and we will set up an appointment.

Curtiss Robinson
NSCA-CPT
Trainer/Coach