When we’re working out to improve our fitness, what we eat, and when, can not only have an impact on our results, but our recovery too.
Our resident nutrition coach, Yaz, is sharing how you can hack your recovery before and after every workout, to give your body chance to thrive!
The priority: Carbs
The timing: 30 mins to 3 hours pre-workout
Let’s show carbohydrates some love!
This macronutrient fuels your muscles – so the harder they work, the more carbs you’re going to need to keep them pumping at their best.
In fact, if you don’t fuel your muscles properly prior to your workout, you’ll probably feel weak and tired which can mean compromised performance and results.
The timing really depends on how sensitive your digestion is.
If your gut is quite sensitive, you may be better eating up to 2-3 hours before training, whilst others can handle a time frame of 30 minutes prior.
The best thing you can do is experiment and find what time frame works best for you. You carry this knowledge for life, so it’s really worth the effort.
PS: our bodies are smart and they can store glycogen from your meal the night prior, so if you’ve had a carb-rich dinner there’s no pressure to load up for an early morning sesh unless you’re competing.
I’ll also mention that a little bit of protein can help, especially if you’re about to do some strength training, as it “primes the pump“, AKA the protein presents the right amino acids for your muscles to soak up immediately.
Here’s some high-carb inspo with a sprinkling of that beneficial protein:
- Fruit smoothies
- Peanut butter and banana on toast
- Granola bars
- Rice cakes with nut butter
- Greek yoghurt with berries
- Porridge with skim/almond milk and fruit
- Apples with almond butter
Our Equalution coaches can also help you create a meal plan that suits your workouts and your body’s requirements so check out our plans here if you’re not already part of our community.
The priority: high carb & protein
The timing: within 1 hour of workout
So, you’ve given it you’re all during your workout and you’re exhausted!
Before you grab a random meal or throw together a random assortment of foods (post-workout hanger is real!) let’s talk nutrition strategy to propel you to your best results.
Getting protein and carbs into your system is even more vital post-workout. If you routinely skip eating after your workouts you’ll find it much harder to reach your fitness goals.
And guess what, we’re not quite done with carbs!
They’re making a come back, and its more important than ever because after your workout, your glycogen levels are lower.
Glycogen is just a fancy term for carbs stored in your body. Let me paint a picture: you eat some banana bread before your workout (yum) and your body breaks it down and packages it away for later use AKA when you’re working those glute muscles during leg day!
Your body leans on these stored carbs to power you through your workout, so when you’re done, your glycogen tank is running pretty dry, meaning we need to replenish the lost nutrients!
This is also the most effective way to reduce post-workout soreness. Picking complex carbs is best as they break down slowly so things like quinoa and all “brown” versions of carbs (i.e. brown rice, wholewheat/brown bread and pasta) are better than their stripped counterparts.
It’s not just carbs that are needed during this time, protein is vital in helping those torn muscles repair and re-build as they soak up all the branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) you ingest. The most abundant BCAA needed is called leucine – so seek out protein sources rich in this BCAA for the best results.
If you’ve been doing intense weight training for a long period of time (45-90 mins) you’ll need extra protein if your goal is to build muscle.
You’re also going to want to rehydrate the body to replace lost electrolytes. Electrolytes are involved in many processes in your body, including contracting muscles, keeping you hydrated and maintaining pH levels – and it’s lost via sweat.
In summary: Getting in a high carb meal with adequate protein helps your muscles replenish their glycogen stores they just exerted, as well as helping those tired muscles repair and rebuild with the amino acids from the protein. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water and add in some electrolytes!
Post-workout meal inspo:
- Green protein smoothie
- 1 cup of chocolate milk (great ratio of carbs + protein for recovery, more than most sports drinks)
- Protein oats
- Wholegrain turkey & veggie wrap
- YoPro yoghurt with berries
- Eggs on toast
- Veggie omelette with 1/2 cup roasted potatoes and avocado
- Steamed fish with a baked sweet potato & sautéed greens