Intermittent fastingWhat’s the best time to eat for weight loss?

Are you tired of being told what you can and can’t eat?

You approach a fitness professional or personal trainer for help losing weight and they give you a massive list of things you can’t eat!

I guess it’s the culture of the weight loss industry.

Sadly this experience sets you up for failure. So, is there a way you can have your cake and eat it?

How Committed Are You?

Before I begin I’d like to ask you a question.

How how much do you want to make a change to your health, performance and physique?

How much do you want to lose weight or tone up?

Give yourself a grade out of 10.

Not fussed 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 Really want it

Now, ask yourself how committed you are to achieving your goal. How much are you prepared to change and implement to achieve your ultimate goal?

Not committed 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 Committed

If your first answer is 8-10 then I am guessing your second answer will also be high.

And that is great news and I hope you do achieve your weight loss goal.

Follow a plan, stick to your guns and get the results you deserve.

Keep asking yourself ‘is what I am doing getting results that I want?” If not, make a change.

Beware Of Taking On Too Much

If however you share similarities with me and lots of my clients, you may find it easier to get inspired today, set strict nutrition and exercise plans, have every intention to implement your goal, and then something crops up and you trip on the first hurdle.

Maybe you have a stressful Monday and skip a training session or eat a ‘banned’ food.

Or you are invited around a friends for supper and they have cooked an off-limits supper.

Maybe you are in town with friends and they all go for coffee and cake – can you really resist?

Be honest and ask yourself:

Can I see myself eating this way in a year’s time? If the answer is no, then please let me share with you some ideas to let you keep getting results and have a life too.

I get it. You’ve more than likely been told to avoid carbohydrates if you want health and to lose weight. This is a very common recommendation, and while it may work for the right person, it might not be right for everyone.

In fact there are people who do very well on a ‘high carb’ diet, others do well on ‘low carb’ eating.

I am a lover of bread and I love cake too. Since the age of about 24 it appears that if I eat wheat or sugary foods I feel sluggish, and my waistline expands rapidly – almost immediately it seems.

So, am I in for a no carb life if I want health and to stay trim?

Actually, no. If you struggle with this too read on and let me share some rules I stick to to allow me to keep in shape and build a healthy relationship with carbohydrates. Luckily there is a smarter way to manage your carbohydrates that is could be more maintainable for you and I.

Eat Whole Foods And The 20:80 Rule

As with anything, if you are too strict you’ll begin to resent it.

Have you ever been on a strict diet and resented it? A no carbohydrate diet for example?

The nutrition advice I advocate is not a zero carb diet, but is choosy about the carbohydrates you consume, and how and when they are consumed. Be carb savvy.

Personally I try to ensure my carbohydrates come from fruit, vegetables, non-starchy roots like carrots and sweet potatoes and from beans and pulses.

Eating these whole foods means I can still eat carbs daily without the fat gain, sugar spikes and energy slumps of a grain centric and sugar loaded diet.

This is not to say I never eat starches, grains or sugar because I do. This is where the 20:80 rule kicks in.

I have found that if I am strict about my food for 80-95% of the week, I can have a cheat meal when necessary. For me this’ll be toast or a cake of some description. Guilt free.

If you are like me and are an all or nothing kind of person you may have experienced extremely strict nutrition and exercise habits for a period, then an all out binge for a period negating the great results you gained initially.

By following the 20:80 rule you can have the best of both worlds. Eat consistently well most of the time, without massive periods of over or under eating will have long term health, performance and body composition benefits.

Consistency is king and over time your health and physique will benefit. There my be periods in the year you are more lax than others – Christmas and Easter – but you can adapt your exercise to suit these times of year, and be more strict at other times of year. Think of is as periodisation of your food.

Best Time To Eat For Weight Loss

Speaking of exercise, did you know that in the 15 minutes post high intensity exercise your muscles are like a sponge, easily soaking up sugars from your blood.

This state of insulin sensitivity is extremely useful for us, and a tool I use all the time for my own progress and that of my clients.

If you eat starchy, grainy or sugary treats in the post exercise 15 minute window you will be extremely unlikely to store the sugars as fat, because your muscles will soak up the glucose and store it as glycogen.

This means that if you really can’t keep off the cakes, try to ensure you eat your cake immediately post high intensity workout.

This brings me back to my first question. Many people really want health and performance results and grade 8-10 for this question, but realistically won’t commit to consistently good nutrition habits and so grade that 3-6. How committed are you in sticking to your plan?

If you have a hard time sticking to an eating plan, the problem is not you, it is the plan. Don’t take on too much at once. Prioritise small changes, and over time you will get big a impact.

If your answer was below five but you still really want results, you can still get awesome results by taking advantage of your 15 minute window. Have your cake and eat it 🙂

High intensity workouts are hard and short, but this is a rule I follow. If I know I am going to a wedding, out to meet a friend at a cafe or just really want a cake I perform a high intensity workout before hand. Try it, and let me know how you get on!

Exercise Nutrition Timing and Type

So, my next point is this. The best time to eat for weight loss when it comes to treats is the 15 minute window you can neutralise the negative effects insulin has on your body by keeping high glyceamic index or load foods for before, during and after exercise.

If you know you have a 40 minute high intensity workout to do, keep your treats like toast and jam for a pre-workout snack. If you are addicted to drinking coke or pop this can be areal tough habit to kick, so consume it at these times. Not that I recommend it, but during workouts is a good time to eat sweets if this is your thing, just don’t choke on them!

Just a point to remind you that these are ideas to let you eat your treats with minimum negative impact, and I don’t necessarily recommend eating them at all.

For real results avoid the junk, however if you must eat it or else, then exercise times are best.

Balance meals with protein, carbohydrate and fat from whole foods, and include plenty of vegetables. If you have a high carbohydrate meal, aim to have it within 3 hours of a workout. And aim to reduce our carbohydrates during sedentary days.


Supplementing is effective if you get your nutrition right first. At least to the point of the 80:20 rule.

Essential supplements include:

  • Fish oils with high omega 3 EPA and DHA content.
  • Multivitamin and minerals  with high doses of a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals including magnesium and zinc before bed.
  • Protein supplement such as whey protein isolate.

High Intensity Workout Routines

High intensity workout routines are the key to effective weight loss if your diet is not 100% strict.

The benefits are rapid fat loss, EPOC calories burned up to 72 hours post workout, and they save you time.

If you skip workouts regularly, this can be a problem for your weight loss goals.

Remedy this by starting a workout, even a 4 minute Tabata training session, and once you start you’ll probably want to do more.

Aim to workout 4-6 times weekly, and keep sessions high intensity but short. High intensity workouts and resistance training are key.

Knowing you aren’t going to be plodding for hours in a boring gym will motivate you to train, and keeping the sessions short will make you less likely to skip sessions.

Final note to say that if you are serious about results, then the more you can focus and implement your plan the better your results will be.

However if you have been given or ‘prescribed’ a restrictive diet plan, it might be worth you acknowledging that in real life diets mostly fail, and that it is often more realistic to adopt some of the tricks above to achieve your goals.

Eating consistently well is more important than worrying about the details like the best time to eat for weight loss. Sticking to your nutrition with the 20:80 rule, applying the high intensity exercise and eating treats in the 15 minute window post exercise you will still manage to reap heath and weight loss rewards.

Happy training, and of course share this if you found it useful. Comment below if you want, and email me if you have a question. If you feel you need more help with your fitness and exercise plans, or that you’re interested in online nutrition coaching then get in touch.

Thanks, Nico.

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