Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Importance of Adhering to a Post-Workout Nutrition Plan

Rosario Colomba MAT, CSCS, CK
Personal Training Manager – Xanadu Health Club

I would like to start out by saying that your hard work is not going unnoticed. Hell, I’ve probably cleaned up your sweat at one point or another. What I want to uncover in this installment of my blog series is the importance of post-workout nutrition as an enhancement to all of that exercise.

Actually, did I say post-workout nutrition will enhance the rewards of your workouts? What I meant to say is that the types of nutrients you ingest and how long after your workout it takes you to ingest those nutrients isn’t only means everything.

You’re probably saying, “that was a pretty vague statement.” “What does he mean by everything?” When I say everything I mean that whatever your goals are (building muscle, burning fat, speeding up recovery...), post-workout nutrition will allow you to accomplish it.

Believe me, I respect the fact that some of you even find the time to workout. I understand that going to the grocery store or back to work is important. So please don’t be mad at are accomplishing very little if you do not follow your workouts with the right balance and timing of nutrients.

First let’s discuss what exercise actually does to the body. Exercise itself actually breaks down muscle tissue and depletes its nutrient stores. This isn’t a bad thing. By breaking down the muscle during exercise you begin the phenomenon known as “remodeling.” Remodeling is a term given to describe the body getting stronger as a result of exercise. So you’ve got the blueprint, you broke down the walls, and now you need the tools to build newer, stronger walls.

The specific types of nutrients one should ingest immediately after a workout are for an endurance athlete, a nutrient rich and carbohydrate dense food source. This will optimally promote glycogen re-synthesis. For somebody who has just finished weight training with the goal of strength, toning, muscle building, and fat burning; ingesting a nutrient rich food source with a ratio of 2:1 carbohydrates to protein will optimally promote protein synthesis and decrease protein breakdown. The reason why carbohydrates are still so important to the person weight training is because they will be the driving force behind delivering all of that protein to the muscle. It is important to remember that an excess of carbohydrates beyond that of stimulating a release of insulin to aid in the delivery of protein to the muscle will get stored as fat. Therefore, make smart carbohydrate choices when designing your post-workout nutrition plan. For example, stay within the caloric boundaries that are appropriate for you. As well as choosing carbs that are all natural and high on the glycemic index.

It may sound obvious but your post-workout nutrients should be virtually fat free as well. This is because fat slows down transit through the stomach and thus may slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins. Timing of ingesting these nutrients is also a key and important factor. Immediately after training the cells of your body are like open windows ready to accept all the healing benefits a nutrient rich post-workout meal/supplement will provide. Within 1 hour of training your “window of opportunity” will diminish, thus leaving your body malnourished during its moment of need.

If you are on the run try a whey protein shake or a fruit smoothie. Maybe pre-pack some fruits and Greek yogurt. Whatever you do, protect the time and investment that you are putting into your workouts and take your results to new heights by adhering to a consistent post-workout nutrition plan.