Nutrient Timing and Energy Usage! It All Begins in the AM!

by | Jun 7, 2021 | Healthy Bites

This is a topic that I speak to my clients about all the time. The idea that its important to eat more of your calories during the day versus at night. Metabolic rate starts to decline about 12 hours after rising in the morning. So if you wake at 6am, metabolic function is starting to slip around 6pm. Its all too common, though, for people to have their “biggest” meal at 6pm or after and then snack until they go to bed (I also can’t help but wonder, why are we not fueling ourselves during our most active parts of the day? Lots of conversation can be had around this subject!).

Point being is that, glucose tolerance, which is essentially how well your body utilizes energy or glucose in the blood stream, is markedly decreased at night. In fact, one of the studies recently done on this subject, indicates that glucose tolerance is decreased by about 17% at night. That’s pretty high! So how do you make your body more sensitive to energy usage?  Here are some basics:

  1. Try to give your body some time – anywhere between 2 and 3 hours before bed without any food. Reason is, if you are someone that is affected by acid reflux, this can really kick in when we still have food on our stomach before going to bed. To rest a little more easily, try to have main meals done 2-3 hours before bed. In addition, you want to give your body time to get that meal digested as much as possible before bed, so your body can focus on all the other things it needs to do in the evening when we sleep. It is detoxifying (naturally, not weird stuff required), its repairing muscles and cells, its bumping up your immunity and allowing yourself to get into the most restorative form of sleep – REM sleep. If food is still being digested, this greatly affects how effectively the body is able to do the other chores it has to do on top of trying to fall into that ever-so-important REM sleep.


  2. Our glycogen levels are depleted in the morning and blood sugar levels are pretty low, making this time of the day most optimum for carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrate also helps us regulate our hunger levels (especially higher fiber sources), fuel our own metabolic power and, because of all the b-vitamins they contain, helps our body deal with stress from physical activity, mental and emotional stress as well.


  3. For women in particular, it has been well studies that we also benefit from added protein in the morning as well. Especially for those of us in our 40’s and beyond. This helps the body maintain lean body mass and potentially build if we need to as well. Its also a good idea to spread your protein out throughout the remainder of the day to help regulate blood sugar level and provide a steady stream of usable amino acid for those muscles! 

So in a nut shell:

  • Power breakfast in the morning – oats and or sprouted grain bread, fruit, protein sources like eggs or a protein powder smoothie with oats and fruit, nut butters or avocado – – in other words, FUEL UP! This will set the tone for the rest of the day and work with your bodies circadian rhythms and hormones! Some strong studies indicate that making breakfast your “largest” meal is optimum and some studies have indicated that precisely a 750calorie breakfast is key for metabolic enhancement, and hunger control for the rest of the day! Remember, we want to feel less hungry as the day progresses. This is why breakfast essentially can determine if that happens or not. 
  • Your body will naturally be feeling hungry in about 4 hours – sometime 3 and sometimes 5, just depends on where your hormones and activity levels are at that day! Its important to listen to these cues and work with them. When hunger strikes in this fashion your body is primed to want to take in nutrition and utilize it efficiently at this point. Digestive enzymes are being produced and absorption and nutrient transport is heightened at this time as well! Your body is ready to go! Also a good sign that metabolically you’re fired up! 
  • As the day continues, you’ll naturally fall into this pattern as well, and feel hunger decrease as the day goes on. This all starts with breakfast and adequate fuel before and after any workout as well, which plants the seed to how the rest of the day will feel! 

And as always – to fine tune this to fit into your own lifestyle, workout schedule and life schedule, feel free to contact me at any time for a consult! 

Nicole Kerneen,RD,CD,CSSD

Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash


Meet Nicole

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Nicole is recognized state-wide and nationally as a Registered Dietitian and is also a Certified dietitian through the state of Wisconsin. She is also a Board Certified Sports Dietitian and a Certified Personal Trainer and Physical Fitness Instructor.

Nicole’s areas of expertise include: Wellness and lifestyle coaching, weight management, behavior modification, eating disorders, vegetarian lifestyles, gluten-free living, sports nutrition, recipe and menu design and development.







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