Is this where your workout ends? The sweaty, sucking wind, new PR post workout feeling is awesome, but the workout isn’t really over until the next one begins. In response to exercise the muscle fibers are damaged, tissues are inflamed, and energy stores are depleted. But the body rebuilds itself and comes back even better to fight another day. Therefore, we are going to do your body a favor, and lend a hand to this recovery process and present some key recovery issues and how to deal with them. So, lets visit the most critical recovery element- Nutrition.
Far too often nutrition takes a back seat, or maybe even put in the trunk, when it should really be driving the rig. This is especially true post-exercise. While the nutrition demands might be different depending on the nature of the workout, two main problems exist: Carbohydrate Stores are depleted Muscle proteins are broken-down
Without addressing these two problems, recovery is delayed. This can lead to prolonged soreness and fatigue, decreases in future performance and feelings of lethargy associated with over training. Therefore, use the following to make a solid post-workout nutrition plan, and make it just as important as getting your first muscle-up. General Guidelines Stage 1 - Immediately Post Workout (within 30 minutes) Replenish Glycogen. Consume carbohydrate immediately post-exercise. Use carbs that digest quickly, like honey, coconut water, Gatorade, fruits, and fruit juices.
Protein for Muscle Repair. The perfect protein amount remains inconclusive, but a golden ratio of 1-2:1 (carbs to protein) is probably the most recommended. Again, focus on nutrition that digests quickly, so whey protein is a good option. Fat is best left to a minimum as it will slow the digestion carbohydrate and protein.
Re-hydrate. The general guideline for hydration is 16oz of fluid per pound lost during exercise; however that is assuming you started with perfect hydration. Basically, just keep drinking people.
Stage 2 - Recovery (2-6 hours post-exercise) Continue filling up the tank on carbohydrate and protein using the above recommendations (1-2:1 carb to protein ratio). Start to focus more on consuming whole foods.
Stage 3 - Recovery (Beyond 6 hours) Glycogen is restored, now focus is on maintaining blood sugar levels. Eat balanced meals containing healthy fats, carbs and protein. Keep eating proteins. The health benefits of proteins are extensive. Ramp up fat intake. Fats will provide energy to conserve carbohydrate stores and will keep you full. Nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, coconut oil and fats from grass fed meats are all great options.
Performance vs. Weight Loss Goals
Even if your primary goal is weight loss, the post-workout dietary guidelines are still for you. Simply use your goal weight to calculate the amount of carbs and fat to consume. With optimal recovery you can work out harder, which will lead to quicker results. Post-Workout Meal Plan Example:
Post Workout Meal (within 15minutes): Whey protein mixed with fast digesting carb (i.e. Gatorade) Recovery Meal 1 (2 hours post workout): Chicken, sweet potato with peanut butter, broccoli Recovery Meal 2 (4 hours post workout): lean beef, rice, avocado, peppers and onions
These guidelines are general recommendations. Things can vary greatly based upon intensity, duration, individual goals, and personal food preferences.
Remember, it's not about being better than someone else, it's about being better than you were the day before.
Make today great,