Chrononutrition : there is a time for everything
When eating a healthy diet, just like anything else, there is a time for everything. Choosing to eat healthy food is a great idea, and chrono-nutrition takes it one step further. Chrono-nutrition is the art of eating the right food at the right time. To be in the best physical and mental shape possible, here are a few quick tips from Baouw’s nutritionist just for you. Coach Benoit Nave advises athletes like Xavier Thevenard and Benoit Girondel, winners of the UTMB and Grand Raid de la Réunion respectively, who both have a wealth of experience in chrono-nutrition and eating healthy.
Chrono-nutrition is the art of eating the right food at the right time. “Most of the time, when I monitor what people eat,” explains Benoit Nave, Baouw nutritionist and sports coach, “I notice that they are very aware of the importance of a healthy diet, eating well, and eating the right foods, they’re just not aware of when the right time is to eat them. Whereas, in absolute terms, when you eat something counts as much as what you eat.”
Of course, it all starts with the fundamentals of eating healthy foods (mostly, but not limited to, fruits and vegetables).
However, the timing of nutrient absorption conditions the body’s capacity to assimilate them properly. If you do not eat nutritious foods at the right time, the benefits are minimal, and not as effective as they should be. This is what we refer to as “bioavailability”. Chrono-nutrition combines a healthy diet with the right physiological timing for digestive enzyme secretion.”
Um, excuse me, Coach Benoit, could you please explain?
“To clarify, the body does not have the capacity to efficiently digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats at just any time, simply because it does not secrete the necessary enzymes in a linear manner all throughout the day. This misunderstanding leads, for example, to people gaining weight even though they pay careful attention to what they eat, and think that are eating nutritiously,” answers our coach and nutritionist.
When, for example, people refuse to eat complex sugars (carbohydrates) at night; regardless of whether or not they are athletes, and regardless of whether or not they plan to train. Chrono-nutrition is not just choosing healthy ingredients, it means knowing when during the day to eat them to take full advantage of their nutritional value without putting our health or our figure at risk.
Eating anything, but at the right moment, is the starting point for chrono-nutrition. By following the tips from our coach and nutritionist, and by making meals more in line with your body’s biological clock, you will take full advantage of the benefits of a healthy, well-balanced diet.
In concrete terms, what you should do: chrono-nutrition tips from Baouw’s coach
In the morning
- Eat protein!
We cannot repeat it enough: eating healthy does not mean going on a diet. Chrono-nutrition is not, “deprive yourself of everything, on the contrary,” emphasizes our nutritionist, Benoit Nave. “Eating proteins for breakfast is fundamental for eating healthy,” he adds. “This goes for both men and women. People often choose to skip proteins in the morning.”
Eat two eggs, ham, chicken, or cheese from goat or sheep milk. To clarify, no, eggs are not your enemy when it comes to eating right, even though they do contain fat and cholesterol (good for the brain and for hormones).
Baouw’s chrono-nutrition tip. At breakfast, eat good fats: a little butter, walnuts, almond butter (“This is really, really healthy, too,” approves our nutritionist).
- If you need a snack in the morning, eat fruit (fresh, cooked, or puree), then oilseeds and nuts, or a Baouw energy bar (“especially if you have a workout planned”).
Avocado on toast: ideal for a healthy breakfast! It contains good proteins and fats, and is a great way to start your day!
- Eat protein!
“Continue to eat protein to recharge your brain’s and your immune system’s batteries,” recommends Baouw’s nutritionist. Based on chrono-nutrition’s guidelines, you need to eat proteins at lunch (preferably white meat, but red meat from time to time is fine). Fish and tofu are also excellent choices.
As a side to accompany the protein, you have two situations:
- You had an intense morning workout (not a relaxing jog). “In this case, you need to eat carbohydrates,” our coach, Benoit, reminds us. “Take advantage of this window to stock back up on carbs. Pasta, rice, potatoes…”
- You did not work out or do any type of intense activity. “In this case, eat vegetables (not carbohydrates) with the proteins. The perfect combination: fresh seasonal vegetables to start (shredded carrots or other chopped veggies), and then a main dish, such as chicken or pork, with cooked veggies on the side. Eat something like apple sauce or a fruit salad for dessert.
- A fruit plus a piece of dark chocolate or a Baouw bar (“which already contains everything you need: dried fruits, fruit, and oilseeds/nuts” explains nutritionist Benoit Nave, who establishes the nutritional profile for all of our bars, which have very stringent specifications).
A piece of fruit spread with some kind of nut butter is a very healthy and delicious snack!
In the evening
- Eat carbohydrates!
Contrary to popular belief, eating carbohydrates for dinner or at night will not make you fat! Based on the principles of chrono-nutrition, you should eat carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, potatoes, or quinoa (not all at the same time, of course!) for dinner, regardless of whether or not you are an athlete.
Baouw’s nutritionist comments further, “Add a side of beans for vegetable protein, vegetables for fiber – the foundation of a healthy diet, and small fatty fish (sardines, mackerels, etc.) for the omega 3 fatty acids. What is the ideal desert? Cooked fruits are your best friends for healthy sweets.”
A quick Baouw chrono-nutrition note: for a healthy diet, eat fats during the first half of the day and carbohydrates in the second half.
For example: eat cheese in the morning, when fat is your ally and not your enemy.
Baouw’s chrono-nutrition tip. “If you are feeling a bit lackluster, eat a handful of cashew nuts or our Citrus – Cashew bar, it is rich in tryptophan to put you in a great mood.”