I’d like to talk a little bit about nutrition, namely what should you be putting into your body directly before and after a particularly demanding workout. There are a ton of conflicting studies and opinions out there and I don’t pretend to be an expert by any means, instead I’m just going to share with you what works for me and what I’ve found out from doing my own research. If you’re interested in finding out more Google is a great place to start, the trick is sorting through the thousands of results you’ll come across, most of which are probably pretty similiar with minor variations.
Personally I’m not a fan of going into a workout with a full stomach, I try to consume just enough to give me the energy I’m going to need to have a productive workout and to keep me from crashing. It will vary person to person but I generally consume 300-500 calories about 20 minutes before a workout, this gives my body the opportunity to start converting those calories into energy but leaves me with plenty to spare for the workout. If you’re trying to burn extra fat in order to lose weight then lay off the calories/carbs pre-workout. Your body will burn stored fat but only if you don’t load up with carbohydrates beforehand, think of electricity… when lightning strikes it will always take the path of least resistance to the ground, your body is the same way, it’s much easier to burn carbs with their readily available calories than convert stored fat into energy.
Your pre-workout meal should consist mainly of complex carbohydrates, things like fruits, vegetables and breads that take a little longer to burn up than things like sugary drinks or candy. In order to use carbs as energy your body needs to convert them to glucose first, the reason we like complex carbs is since they take longer to convert than sugar from soda and things like that so we get a more readily maintained steady supply of energy which keeps our blood sugar in check and doesn’t lead to a sugar crash. It’s ok to consume a little protein beforehand but try to keep it to a minimum, remember to your body protein=fat in terms of its ability to process.
2. During the workout
If you’re workout is under an hour in duration you don’t need to consume anything other than water! If you’re getting into long runs/workouts, triathlons or things like that then it’s a bit of a different story. In these instances I take Stinger honey shots along with me for supplemental calories (http://www.honeystinger.com/). I like Stinger because their products are natural and taste great. As always the amount and frequency that you’ll need these things varies on an individual basis depending on your metabolism and intensity of activity, I take one energy gel or waffle roughly once an hour with a bit of water during long, intense races/workouts. In addition to calories during these longer things you’re probably going to need an electrolyte supplement as well as your standard H2O. For this I like Nuun electrolyte tablets because they’re not sugar based like gatorade or other sports drinks which when consumed in excess can lead to GI issues at inopportune moments. Just drop one in your water bottle and go. (http://www.nuun.com/)
This one is up for debate. Most sources agree that it’s important to consume at least 8 grams of protein directly after a demanding workout to start your muscles recovery and for a long time it’s been conventional wisdom that you should supplement that protein with a few carbs. A few recent studies have questioned the efficacy of said carbs, the new thought is that maybe they’re not really necessary after all but so far that’s still up in the air so for now we’ll ere on the side of conventional wisdom. You can run home from the gym and cook yourself an omelet but we have a bit of a time frame to work within, in order to get the most effect from your post-workout protein you have about 45 minutes to get it into your body. Because of this time frame I find it’s easier to blend up a quick shake and get that nutrition in liquid form. There are a lot of proteins and after workout mixes out there on the market and by and large I think they’re pretty terrible, some of these things have hundreds of calories per serving in the form of sugar, not to mention all the extra chemicals. Because of the glut of cheap, sugary supplements on the market it can be a little overwhelming to try to find something that works for you.
Here’s the recipe for my own personal post recovery shake:
1-2 scoops of vanilla flavored “bio-fresh” whey protein from http://proteinfactory.com/shop/bio-fresh/
I generally don’t bother with using the full serving size, if 3 scoops has 60G of protein I’ll use maybe 1 1/2… Since I’m not a body builder and I’m using protein for recovery, not to bulk up, I simply don’t need 60G. As an added benefit this will make your supply last longer, that stuff is expensive! If you’re vegan or simply don’t want to use whey based protein there are plenty of different kinds of protein out there, check out the health food store for hemp or soy based products, they may not pack quite the punch as whey but they’re dairy free.
1 Tbsp of Pines wheatgrass powder (http://wheatgrass.com/c-11-wheat-grass-powder.aspx)
Sure it’s grass but personally I enjoy the flavor. Leafy greens have chlorophyl, you’re probably thinking that chlorophyl is just for plants but think again, it’s great for helping get oxygen to your blood which will speed your recovery and just help you be healthier all around. Wheatgrass is also loaded with a bunch of vitamins and minerals.
A big blob of raw honey.
These are those controversial post-workout carbs. Conventional wisdom pretty much says that these carbs will help your body latch onto those proteins you’ve just consumed ultimately helping you get the most out of them. Like I said this is up in the air but honey just makes the whole shake taste so much better anyway. I try to buy local honey if I can but there are some good quality raw honeys at the grocery store too.
Well, that’s it. Lest I forget to mention, any time you’re working out it’s important to hydrate! That’s before, during and after. If you’re not hydrated not only are you going to feel way worse, your muscles simply won’t respond as well as they should.
Hopefully some of this stuff is helpful, let me know! Cheers.