What Is Nutrient Partitioning & Why Does It Matter?

nutrient partitioning

The truth on how your body processes nutrients

You sit down after a huge workout, and eat a massive meal. All the good stuff. Juicy piece of steak, tons of leafy greens, maybe some brown rice or quinoa. You know what? Let’s put a cookie for the end because that’s how hard this workout was. Did you enjoy the meal? This article will detail nutrient partitioning and how your body processes nutrients. 

Regardless of how you actually feel, your body is loaded with nutrients and it needs to partition these out so they all work for your gains, using a process called nutrient partitioning. This works on a level that we won’t feel, but our bodies are constantly partitioning nutrients to give us the best chance to function as properly as possible. But what exactly is this scientific process our bodies are always undergoing?

Let’s take a look at nutrient partitioning and see just what this is all about. From what it is, to why it matters, we’ll also talk about how insulin can be a game changer when it comes to your gains. On top of all that, we’ll give you some awesome supplement options so you can get all the right nutrients as efficiently as possible to power you inside and out of the gym.

nutrient partitioning

What Is Nutrient Partitioning?

Nutrient partitioning is the process where hormones and chemical messengers in your body tell your body where energy should go and how excess calories should be used. Also called energy partitioning, this is ultimately the process by which your body directs energy to its final landing spot. This will come from mainly protein, fats, and carbs and your body does either one of two things; burns it off, or stores it.

This comes into play for us bodybuilders because as athletes looking to hold the lowest amount of body fat, we can’t afford to have any excess calories stored and packed on as fat. Nutrient partitioning is important, however, for it keeps our bodies operating and works to power us both inside and out of the gym in our workouts and our everyday lives (1).

Why Does It Matter?

Nutrient partitioning matters because it gives us insight into what we should eat, when we should eat, and how much to eat. Ultimately, we want our bodies to partition these nutrients where we need them. Storing them as fat is not what we want. Safe to say, right? So, if we eat a larger carb meal at night, what’s going to happen?

Our bodies will store this since we won’t really burn it off. Timing is vital and our bodies don’t keep track of time. You pump your body with a meal, it reacts accordingly. Knowing what nutrient partitioning is and how it works can be a game changer for all of our goals.

dumbbell hip thrust

Insulin: The Thorn In Nutrient Partitioning’s Side

Insulin is important for it allows nutrients to get into your body and be utilized for energy and muscle growth. But on the flip side, this can also lead to fat storage, which is what we absolutely don’t want or need. Let’s say you eat a larger, carb-filled meal. This will get broken down into glucose and eventually insulin will be released.

But where people get into trouble is if not enough or too much insulin comes into play (2). Too much insulin, for example, and your blood sugar levels may rise. Too little insulin, and your body will produce more of it, but this will ultimately lead to glucose being stored as fat. Working with certain styles of training like HIIT, resistance training, and steady cardio, while also watching the amount of carbs you eat, can help with this.

Nutrient Partitioning For Weight Loss & Muscle Growth

For your weight loss and muscle building goals, when it comes to nutrient partitioning it is important that you look to optimize these nutrients as effectively as possible. So, instead of these nutrients being stored, which will eventually lead to fat, you want them to be put towards muscle growth.

By encouraging these nutrients to flood into your muscles, you put more of an emphasis on actually building lean muscle, which not only aids in that shredded aesthetic, but also leads to less being stored, ultimately leading to weight loss (3).

Of course, this ties into what you eat and when you eat it as well. Many professional bodybuilders will focus on lean protein and vegetables for their diet, mixed with carbs like rice and sweet potatoes, only allowing whole foods with plenty of nutrients to enter their bodies. While it may not be an ice cream float, the results you’ll see are exactly what you want.

protein powders weight loss clean plant-based vegan female

Best Supplements For Optimal Nutrition

Working with the best supplements around, you can easily find the right products that will work to absorb better and more efficiently so your body can distribute throughout as effectively as possible. A protein powder worth your time will also have digestive enzymes that can work to aid in digestion and give you the best when it comes to nutrient absorption and partitioning. Plus, with a proper balance of macros, your body can distribute evenly throughout.

Another great supplement to consider is a meal replacement, especially if your busy schedule requires it. The right balance of macros, fiber, and other ingredients for digestion will really start to work wonders for you and your gains. To ensure you stay on track, look into a fat burner to keep your metabolism going and shedding that unwanted fat.

Wrap Up

Nutrient partitioning is important. It is a part of our daily life and routine and after a large meal, our bodies need to work out exactly what to do with all those calories. What we can do is plan out our routine, mainly diet and supplementation, so we can assist our bodies to function as best they can. Nutrient partitioning matters, just as much as your gains.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Goodman, B. (2010). “Insights into digestion and absorption of major nutrients in humans”. (source)
  2. Wilcox, G. (2005). “Insulin and Insulin Resistance”. (source)
  3. Aragaon, A.; et al. (2013). “Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.