Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan: It's All About Timing

When talking about diet and health, quality and quantity come to mind first. Nutritional timing is often considered secondary even though it plays a major role in non-inflammatory diet.

Our body is a well-tuned machine which knows exactly how to use each nutrient. Eating around our natural biological clock will help reduce any inflammatory response and optimise the impact of nutrition on health.

Morning protein for an easy anti-inflammatory diet

Western cultures have institutionalised refined carbs and sugar as staple breakfast food ingredients. Pseudo cereal for children, chocolate milk, white bread, pastries, fruit juice, jam and honey!

Starting the day with such foods will make blood sugar levels rise (hyperglycaemia) before dropping again (hypoglycaemia). This high dietary glycaemic load followed by lower plasma glucose levels will trigger the automatic secretion of counter-regulatory hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, growth hormone and glucagon (a hyperglycaemic hormone). In the long run, this pro-inflammatory process can lead to mood disorders, insomnia, muscle and joint pain, and other inflammatory reactions.

So what is the best kind of breakfast food on inflammation free diet? Anything wholesome that contains protein and fat will do the job! For example, avocado, chia seed pudding, nuts and seeds, peanut butter on sourdough bread...

By taking away carbs during the day, you will decrease blood sugars and set the body up for lipolysis – that is to say, using fat from fat cells as a source of energy and ensuring that inflammation is under control. 

Carbs during and after workout to fight inflammation

Anti-inflammatory meal plan should contain not only the right foods but the right drinks as well. During a prolonged effort it is essential to consume sufficient sports drink containing between 30 and 50g of carbohydrate/ 5OOml. Glucose has a strong anti-inflammatory effect during exercise as it lowers the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (or IL6) and has a protective effect on gut lining.

Just after workout or any other physical activity muscles release Glut 4 protein that ensures glycogen is recaptured in order to efficiently reload muscle stores.

It is crucial to adopt both these habits of carbohydrate intake during and after effort so as to reduce the inflammatory response triggered by exercise.

Keep inflammation down thanks to sound sleep

Timing is a key factor when it comes to using food to influence our hormonal system. Serotonin is known as "the feel good neurotransmitter". 95% of it is produced in the gut. Eating carbs in the late afternoon or evening is necessary for its synthesis, thus any meal high on carbs could be considered as an anti-inflammatory food. Protein in the evening will block its production.

Serotonin is essential for inflammation control; it controls inflammatory conditions in the gut but also allergic inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis.

We are all concerned with inflammation control and small habits can bring great changes. Remember some basic rules: protein and fat in the first part of the day, carbs in the afternoon and evening. It’s important to get your nutrition timing right, no matter if you’re a professional athlete or just an occasional jogger. Good luck!

Author: Marie-Noëlle Bourgeois, Nutritionist at Bounce Up Micronutrition

More to read:

Ludwig DS, The Glycemic Index: Physiological Mechanisms Relating to Obesity, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease. JAMA 2002;287:2414-23. doi:10.1001/jama.287.18.2414 pmid:11988062

Keller C, Keller P&Coll (2003), IL-6 gene expression in human adipose tissue in response to exercise-effect of carbohydrate ingestion. J.Physiol., 550.

M S Shajib , W I Khan, The Role of Serotonin and its Receptors in activation of Immune Responses and inflammation, 2014 Scandinavian Physiological Society. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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