In the last two decades, there has been a revolution on nutrition’s role in improving exercise performance. Earlier research focused on the amount and type of nutrition to consume when exercising. Studies conducted at the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University almost 4 decades ago documented the important role carbohydrate plays in improving performance and carbohydrate consumption has become an integral part of any training program. 

In 1997, a landmark book, Nutrient Timing, was published by renowned exercise scientists Drs. John Ivy and Robert Portman. Nutrient Timing presented strong evidence that when you consume nutrition during exercise, may be even more important than what you consume. Nutrient Timing has shaped nutritional guidelines for athletes at all levels. Conclusive research shows that by applying the principles of nutrient timing, an athlete can deliver the precise amounts of nutrients at precisely the right time to optimize muscle growth and enhance endurance performance.

There are three distinct intervals around a workout or exercise routine. The period beginning 30 minutes before exercise, the period continuing throughout exercise, and the period after exercise has ended. These intervals collectively are called the performance zone.

The 30W15 Rule

Scientific studies clearly demonstrate that the right combination of fluid and nutrients consumed within the performance zone will help improve athletic performance far more than the latest high-tech equipment or training device. Think of it as the 30W15 rule. Start your nutrition 30 minutes before you exercise, continue throughout your workout, and consume your recovery nutrition within 15 minutes after your workout ends. The subsequent sections will show you how to optimize Hydration/Fueling, Energy, and Recovery in the Performance Zone.