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Friday, January 17, 2014

Post Workout: What to Eat?

Picture this: You just smashed leg day.  You quads are already quivering and the thought of descending down the steps to get out the front door has you petrified.  Squats, lunges, GHR's- the works!  It was a great workout.  After some struggle, you make it to your car and you're starving.  What should you do next?

a. Head for fast food.  Hey! You just kicked your own butt, you deserve it!
b. Force yourself to wait until meal time.  You'd hate to undo all the hard work you just put in.
c. Grab something, anything from your car/home.  Left over goldfish in the diaper bag?  Good enough!
d. Find a meal that is rich in complex carbohydrates and protein.  And don't forget your water!

If you chose D as your answer then you're correct!  If you chose A, B, or C don't feel bad...I've done every single one of those as some point.  Where do you think I got those ideas?!

Seriously though, it's important you follow that amazing workout with a great meal choice to help your body recover.  Please keep in mind I'm not a nutritionist or dietician.  I'm sharing the knowledge that I have been taught through my experience in personal training/powerlifting and gathered on my own. I want to share what my post-workout routine looks like in hopes that maybe you can pick up some ideas to try on your own!

My first post-workout goal is hydration.  We lose water through sweat and our breath.  That's right our breath- so even if you're "not a sweater" you still need to drink up.  Besides water helps every single action and reaction in our body. Without, we slow down internally and externally... and that's never a good thing.

My second post-workout goal is getting a meal (supplement or whole food) that is rich in complex carbohydrates and protein. It is important to help your body replace energy your body used during the workout.

**This is about as sciencey as I will ever get but just hand with me....

When we exercise our body's glycogen stores become depleted.  Consuming carbs after a workout can help to replace glycogen and may even help release insulin which can help slow the breakdown of protein.

We also break down muscle tissue when exercising, especially resistance training. To help rebuild that muscle, it's a good idea to include protein in your post-workout snack/meal to stimulate protein synthesis.  I've even heard some "big name" fitness professionals say that weight training without consuming protein is counterproductive.  I'm not sure if I would go to that extreme but it is pretty important.

There are a few key points to remember when planning your post-workout grub... There is some debate about the "window" in which you should eat.  Some articles have claimed there is a 30 minute window of opportunity that your body will most readily accept the carbohydrates and protein needed to refuel and recover.  Other articles say it's actually fine to eat within two hours of finishing your workout.  Personally, I just do my best to refuel as quickly as possible.

Another point to consider is how much you should eat, and that can depend largely on your goals (i.e. fat loss, weight maintenance, etc).  Again, I've read a lot of theories about the best carb:protein ratio and see everything from 3:1 recommendation to 20grams of protein is the sweet spot.  Again, I do my best.  Sometimes that "best" is a cliff bar, a protein shake or an omelet on a wrap when I get home.

The final point to remember is complex carbohydrates are your best choices (as opposed to simple carbohydrates) for consuming after a workout. Complex carbs don't raise blood sugar in the body like simple carbs can and help produce energy.  Good examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grains, sweet potatoes and bananas.

Ok, that was way too serious for me.  So true to form, I'll leave you with an easy "cookie" that could used for a great post-workout snack and totally customized to fit your nutrient needs!

Annie's Post-Workout Cookies:

In a bowl mix...

  • 2 mashed, ripe bananas
  • 1/2 oats (add more as needed to get a thick enough texture to form lump/ball)
  • Add whatever you want!!!  We used egg whites, peanut butter and coconut but the sky is the limit!  
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes 

Your turn:  Do you eat after a workout?  What do you eat?  Whole foods?  Supplements? Share!  

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