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Nutrient Timing

Author: Ivy J, Portman R
Category: Sports Nutrition
Audience: Elite Athlete
Length: 212 pages
Publisher: Basic Health Publications
  Year Published: 2004
List Price: $14.95® Rating: Excellent!

Nutrient Timing is a sports nutrition book. It is a companion to another book by these authors: The Performance Zone.

Recommended for: weekend warriors, serious athletes, both endurance athletes, and strength athletes.


John Ivy, PhD, is chairman of the department of kinesiology and health education at U. Texas (Austin). He is an expert on the topic of sports nutrition. He received his PhD in exercise physiology and has published over 150 papers on the effects of nutrition on physical performance and exercise recovery.

Robert Portman, PhD, is the head of research at PacificHealth Labs, the company that produces the sports drinks Accelerade® and Endurox-R4®. Portman received his PhD in biochemistry.


The book contains 12 chapters:


  • Chapter 1: Nutrient Timing
  • Chapter 2: Muscle Energy Systems and Fuel Utilization
  • Chapter 3: The Influence of Hormones on Muscle Growth and Development


  • Chapter 4: NTS Energy Phase
  • Chapter 5: NTS Anabolic Phase
  • Chapter 6: NTS Growth Phase


  • Chapter 7: Making Nutrient Timing Work for You
  • Chapter 8: The NTS Nutrition Program


  • Chapter 9: Nutrient Activators and Sports Supplements
  • Chapter 10: The Right Macronutrients
  • Chapter 11: The Right Micronutrients


  • Chapter 12: How Muscles Work and Adapt to Training


Nutrient Timing, similar to Ivy and Portman's other sports nutrition text The Performance Zone, is a succinct summary of detailed research on optimizing nutritional intake to improve muscle performance and recovery. Whereas The Performance Zone focuses exclusively on the time frame beginning 30 minutes prior to exercise to immediately after exercise, Nutrient Timing covers the entire 24-hr period.

Ivy and Portman state that skeletal muscle cycles through 3 phases:

  • energy phase
  • anabolic phase: the 45-minute period immediately following the end of exercise
  • growth phase

A sports nutrition regimen should restore muscle glycogen and rebuild muscle protein. To achieve this, nutrient "timing" is important in 2 ways:

  • when nutrients are consumed in relation to when exercise occurs
  • making sure that carbohydrates and protein are consumed together

This is explained on p. 11 of the book.

Ivy and Portman do a great job of explaining complicated muscle physiology. Because of my scientific and healthcare background, I found the book easy to read. Nevertheless, some of it might be a little too scientific or advanced for the general reader:

• Chapter 2 is a nice summary of how muscles use energy, but it's too technical for the average reader. Also, it doesn't help the reader optimize their nutrition regimen. This chapter could have been deleted.

• Chapter 3 discusses hormones and their effects on muscles, but, this content is also extraneous. Only the discussion of insulin is relevant, but, the authors should have spent less time summarizing the physiologic actions of insulin and more time explaining how changes in diet affect insulin output.

If you don't want to read the entire book, chapter 1 ("Nutrient Timing") explains the principles and the table on p. 90 summarizes the specific nutritional elements for each of the 3 phases.

What I Liked: complex muscle physiology concepts are explained so that the general reader can understand them; good use of tables and graphs

What Could Be Better: I didn't like the fact that one of the authors has an affiliation with a company that produces 2 of the leading sports drinks on the market (eg., Accelerade® and Endurox-R4). Nevertheless, the content represents a fair, objective summary of published research.


Quite simply, Nutrient Timing is one of the best sports nutrition books I have read. It is an excellent compliment to Ivy and Portman's other book The Performance Zone.

Despite my concerns about potential bias, I can still recommend this book highly. Nutrient Timing is a succinct summary of what will certainly be regarded as a new way of looking at sports nutrition. This book is a must-read for all coaches, athletic trainers, personal trainers, and serious athletes.

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Reviewed by: Stan Reents, PharmD 6/2/2014 11:57:51 AM

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