Okay, so here’s a spin-off to yesterday’s, Do This…Look like That workout posting…We received so many questions about pre/post workout nutrition advice, that it made sense to give you a guys a full write-up on what you should be consuming before and after your workout.
Something to keep in mind…developing that lean, mean, athletic physique is accomplished 40% in the gym and 60% by what you put into your mouth. I’ll save a full general diet plan for another time, so right now, we’re going to focus on two points; pre-exercise nutrition, and post-exercise nutrition (also kn0wn as the MOST important meal of your day).
Pre-exercise nutrition is fairly simple. You need to give your body fuel to perform at a high-level, although you don’t want to stuff yourself so you are exercising on a full stomach….that really isn’t pleasant. You’ll see many bloggers, personal trainers, and self-appointed experts tell you to have a high-sugar, simple carbohydrate meal before exercise. The idea behind this is you will get a boost of energy which will help you perform at a higher level. While you will certainly get a boost, you will also get a crash. Who wants to come down in the middle of a workout and have that lethargic feeling consume their mind and body? Not me.
Best bet is to consume a complex carbohydrate focused meal about 2-3 hours before exercise. Think about having a bowl of oatmeal, some chicken and brown rice, quinoa salad, whole wheat pasta with marinara, etc. These carbohydrates will take longer to break down into glucose (which is what your body uses for fuel), thus, providing a slower, but steadier stream of energy for you to exercise. Personally, if even after a good carb meal, I’m still feeling sluggish, I’ll consume about 8 ounces of coffee 20-30 minutes before I work out. This usually helps give me the jolt I need to perform at a high-level.
Now, on to the real reason you are here…what about that all important post-exercise meal? Well, let’s wait just one minute. Before we get that far, I need to have a serious talk with you ladies out there. I’ve heard it a million times…whether its from someone half way around the world, or a real-life client….you. do. not. want. to. get. big. and. bulky. I get it. I really, realllly get it. Problem is, so many of you women out there are afraid to eat protein because you’re afraid of a) excess calories in your diet and b) you have some crazy idea that protein is basically steroids and adding protein to your diet will make you huge and manly.
Please, for the love of all things holy, get this idea out of your head. Understand this; protein drives muscle synthesis. Your body needs it to create new muscle. When you work out, you break your muscles down. When you rest and eat well, you build your muscles up. You could do all the exercising and weight lifting in the world, but if you aren’t feeding your muscles, you’re seriously wasting your time.
Fortunately for you ladies out there, the amount of muscle your body creates is much different than what a man creates. You do not have to worry about packing on pounds of bulky muscle just because you begin upping your protein intake. I can usually tell just by looking at two different exercisers who is getting enough protein. One woman will have shapely, firm, and toned limbs, core, and back-side. The other will usually have soft muscles, non-visible abdominals, and a weak lower body. Protein is THAT important to develop a sexy physique.
With that out of the way, lets look at the MOST important meal of the day, which is the post-workout whey protein shake. The idea behind this is pretty basic; we want to give your starving muscles the protein it needs, along with a simple carb (one of the few times I will recommend a simple carbohydrate) to spike insulin levels moderately, and help drive protein into your muscles. There are certainly a variety of opinions on this matter, but I’ve seen what works, and those who consume a simple carb+whey protein shake every single time they workout, are looking pretty damn good.
So, to make that power shake after a workout, you need a few things:
- 12 oz low-fat/skim milk
- 1 scoop whey protein
- 1 banana or 1 serving of dried fruit (cherries, apples, blueberries are all great in shakes)
Optional (if you have a hard time gaining weight/muscle):
- 1/4 cup oats (grind these into a fine powder before adding anything else)
Blend those three ingredients up, add the oats if you feel you could use some extra calories, and drink it down. Make sure to consume this power shake within 30 minutes of ending your workout. Make it the first thing you do after you get home and don’t get lazy about it. A well-timed protein shake taken consistently after each workout really will make the difference between looking average and looking (and feeling) GREAT!
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