Nutrient Partitioning

Over the last few months, we have been posting nutrition and health related articles on our blog to help keep our customers informed. You might have seen our ‘Fact of the Day’ posts providing snippets of key information such as how and when to consume protein and creatine, how often you should supplement, and how you can maximise the products you buy e.g. improve absorption thus promoting the development of lean muscle mass. A prime example is our recommendation to combine whey protein or creatine with a high glycaemic index (quick releasing) carbohydrate for the purpose of inducing a spike in blood sugar, resulting in an insulin surge. This tip was our first ever post relating to nutrient partitioning.

It is thought that the body’s utilisation of protein, and consequently the development of muscle as opposed to fat will predominate by combining the macronutrient protein with carbohydrate. Nutrient partitioning is designed to control body composition i.e. the distribution/ratio of muscle, fat and fluid. Generally there is a preference towards the development of lean muscle over fat; indeed there are numerous health benefits with this too! So how would one go about preferentially directing the calories we consume, into muscle as opposed to the storage of fat? The answer is the optimal combination of macronutrients i.e. fat, protein and carbs e.g. a protein source such as grilled chicken breast is better absorbed into the muscle if it is consumed along with a source of healthy fat such as olive oil! Theoretically, nutrient partitioning could go some way to modulating adiposity meaning total fat stores could be kept to a minimum (Ha & Zemel, 2003).

The principle is to carefully balance a person’s intake of each food group in order to maximise our potential. Our bodies function most effectively when our daily intakes consist of approximately a third starchy carbs, a third fruit and veg, and the final third split between protein, milk and dairy...See the Eatwell plate which is representative of a total daily intake, but can also be used to direct your individual meals.

Through limiting/managing the levels of fat, carbs and protein consumed in one meal, you will control the effect it exerts on blood sugar and thus insulin levels. The consequence of consistently elevated blood sugar (glucose) is that the body becomes relatively resistant to insulin, meaning the glucose is not up taken by the muscle and organs and is therefore stored as adiposity aka fat! An example of a partitioning diet is that of the Atkins diet. The Atkins diet is not something we would ordinarily recommend, but it does utilise the nutrient partitioning principle i.e. high protein, low carbs, meaning the average meal will entail the consumption of meats, eggs, pulses, and protein shakes to top up the protein, and very little to no carbs but with ample amounts of healthy (or not so healthy, as the case may be for the Atkins diet) fats. The result of such a diet is a reduction in the composition of body fat and fluid, because carbs inherently cause some fluid retention via a process known as an osmotic shift. Also, a meal that consists of protein along with healthy fats will reduce the insulin response, thus minimising the storage of fat that accompanies persistent spikes in insulin!


Ha, E, & Zemel, M, B. (2003). Functional properties of whey, whey components, and essential amino acids: mechanisms underlying health benefits for active people (review). The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 14: 251-258.

NHS Choices, your health, your choices. The eatwell plate. Retrieved August 14th, from,

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
Post a Comment

Please wait...