There is a lot of contradictory information about post workout nutrition. A lot of nutrition “coaches” never really read medical research or pay attention to the details that might maximize a client’s ability to achieve their body composition goals. This list cuts through the fat ( no pun intended) and gives you the bottom line on what to eat and what to avoid after training.
- Whey Protein -Whey protein is a superior protein source as far as bioavailability. Whey provides the greatest array of amino acids for protein synthesis, improves insulin sensitivity and has a high thermic effect, making it beneficial for anyone whose goal is fat loss. 20 grams used to be the recommended amount, but recently studies have shown that people who took 40 grams post workout stimulated more protein synthesis than the 20.
- Carbs-Post workout is the best time to eat higher carb foods. Intense exercise depletes muscle glycogen, which is the storage form of carbs, while simultaneously making the muscle more sensitive to insulin. This makes the post workout window the ideal time to consume higher carb foods. Ideally, 30% of your daily carbohydrate intake should be consumed post workout.
- Favor High-Quality Carb -Although it is ideal to eat carbohydrates right after training intensely, your carbohydrate source is important. If you are lean enough to drink your carbs post training, a great choice is highly branched cyclic dextrin- a high molecular weight glucose polymer. What does this mean, compared to regular glucose (dextrose)? Because of the molecular weight and low osmality, it 1) exits the stomach quick, 2) is rapidly taken up in the small intestine, and 3) has sustained breakdown in the bloodstream due to being a longer polymer chain. If you would rather eat your carbs vs drink them, eating refined junk food is not the best choice. Soaked and cooked grains, sweet potatoes and starchy vegetables are better options than refined carbs that lack nutrition.
- Avoid Caffeine -As I mentioned in the previous article, caffeine in appropriate amounts before training can boost mood, reduce muscle sore-ness post workout, and help you get the most out of your workout. However, the post training window is the worst time to consume caffeine because it spikes cortisol and keeps your body in a state of catabolism. You want to mitigate cortisol levels as soon as possible after you train so you can start to repair and build muscle. Instead, eat vitamin C rich foods to help metabolize cortisol for a faster recovery.
- Drink Water With Electrolytes -Without adequate electrolyte minerals, drinking water does little to hydrate you. The body requires sodium and potassium in the right ratio to improve cellular water balance and restore hydration. Drinking pickle juice or salting your meals or cooking with bone broths can help, but most hard working athletes will benefit from adding an electrolyte supplement to their water.
- Eat Blueberries and Tart Cherries-Dark colored fruits like blueberries and cherries contain anthocyanins which have been proven to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Make sure you consume these separate from Whey protein ( 30 minutes) because dairy proteins can inhibit the absorption of antioxidants.
- Do Not Eat Fats -Fat post workout can slow the digestion and absorption of protein and carbohydrates down, affection muscle recovery time.A study conducted on bodybuilders has shown that eating fats post workout reduced their growth hormone levels by more than half of what they were when they fasted or ate high-carb foods. At the same time, their levels of somatostatin were higher. This hormone inhibits GH release. For this reason, it’s recommended to keep your fat intake under five grams, or avoid it altogether before and after working out. In addition, fat sources like pistachios, have recently been associated with reduced performance and increased post-exercise plasma levels of raffinose, sucrose, and metabolites related to leukotoxic effects and oxidative stress.
- Supplement -After training, you want to do everything you can to reduce sympathetic nervous system for a faster recovery and better sleep. Consuming an anti-oxidant rich diet, and taking supplements like Taurine, Magnesium and Alpha lipoic acid ( ALA), can calm the CNS and counter inflammation.