Do you train hard at the gym but are not getting the results you want? Or deserve? Your post-workout nutrition is arguably one of the most important times to be fuelling your body correctly. Paying particular attention to your nutrition immediately after a training session has been shown to positively effect subsequent exercise performance. This can be particularly beneficial for those of you who are training in one or more sessions a day or, on consecutive days.
First of all, let’s hit the science (I promise it will be quick and easy).
When you are exercising you are essentially putting your body in an inflammatory and slightly stressful state. During resistance training, you are putting little micro tears in your muscles. However, it is only in your RECOVERY where you will make all of your gains! This is why it is extremely important to be putting the RIGHT fuel back in to your body.
The goals of your post workout nutrition is to:
1. Adequately rehydrate your body
2. Replenish your muscle glycogen
3. Deliver protein to assist with muscle repair and synthesis
These are all ESSENTIAL to be able to have you training at your best, reduce mental and muscle fatigue and assist with hitting any performance goals.
Putting this all together, here are a few strategies to help you nail your post workout!
1. Carbohydrates are your best friends post-workout. During exercise, carbohydrates are the primary and preferred source of fuel for your muscles. To optimise performance in the gym (and ESPECIALLY if your goal is to ‘gain muscle’ or ‘tone-up’, then you need to be having adequate carbohydrate into your post-workout nutrition. Carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, breads and grains.
2.Protein is your next non-negotiable. To maximise muscle protein synthesis, muscle recovery and adaptation, consuming essential amino acids, in particular leucine, in the immediate recovery period, is essential. The current recommendation from Sports Dietitians Australia is 20-30g of protein (or an equivalent of 9g of essential amino acids) in the first hours of post exercise recovery.
3.Hydrate!! Most people do not hydrate adequately. Think about how much sweat you have potentially lost during a workout, and especially in the summer! You need to be having at least 1.5 times the amount of sweat LOST during the session over the 4-6 hours following a session. This may be hard to calculate with precision (without hopping on and off the scale every day); therefore, the main strategy is to take water with you at EVERY session. Keep in mind, this is still as important in the cooler months. Aim to drink at least 600ml post session (<1L if it isa cardio-based session). The average water recommendation for the average adult is ~2-3L per day.
So, putting this together, what does this look like?
Research has shown that the ingestion of protein (0.2 – 0.4g/kg/hour) with carbohydrate (0.8g/kg/hour) has great benefits to recovery (Sports Dietitian Australia).
Now, you may be thinking, what does this actually mean? Well, let’s take the average70kg athlete. Post-workout might look like:
· One serve whey-derived protein shake + 300ml low fat milk and 600ml sports drink
· A salad roll with 60g lean sandwich meat and a banana (Sports Dietitians Australia).
· 2large slices of whole meal toast with cottage cheese (100g) + one serve of whey-derived protein shake
· A homemade Omelette (3 eggs) filled with vegetables (1/2 cup cooked starchy vegetables), served with 2 slices of bread topped with 1 Tbsp. hummus on each
· Chicken(60g cooked), salad, spinach on a wholegrain wrap + a small banana
Try implementing these few tips after your next session to optimise your hard work in the gym!