Tag Archives: post-workout nutrition

Nutrient Timing — It’s More Important Than You Think

23 Apr

We all know that what you eat is important, but so is when you eat, especially if you’re active. In this infographic, John Berardi, Ph. D., and founder of Precision Nutrition, shares his thoughts regarding what to eat before, during, and after exercise.

This informative resource breaks down workout nutrition based on body type and composition, portion sizes, and protein and carbohydrate consumption.

Check it out!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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6 Simple Nutrition Rules for Athletes

16 Aug

Many pro athletes have nutritionists and meal planners who help them eat for optimum performance. The rest of us? We have to fend for ourselves. And while you could spend dozens of hours combing through nutrition books and journals in search of an eating plan that gives you an edge, you probably don’t have that kind of time to spare. Good news: You can upgrade your game instantly by following these six tried-and-true nutrition rules:

1. Aim for Balance

Each of your meals should provide a combination of carbs from whole grains, vegetables or fruits; proteins such as lean meats, peanut butter, or dairy; and healthy fats from foods like olive oil, nuts, or salmon.

2. Eat Breakfast

Your mom was right when she said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A proper morning nosh awakens your metabolism; improves your focus, memory, and mood; and boosts your energy levels all day long.

3. Eat More Frequently

Though you probably grew up on a three-meals-a-day diet, recent research indicates that athletes perform better by eating five or even six smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Try to consume an equal number of calories in each meal or snack, and space your eating sessions about three to four hours apart.

4. Eat Before Your Workout

Your car doesn’t run without fuel, and the same is true of your body. Training on an empty stomach — whether in a workout, practice, or a game — is like trying to drive with the tank on “E”… you’re bound to stall. A pre-workout meal provides your body with a readily available source of energy. For best results, consume a lean protein and slow-burning carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes, or oatmeal about an hour or so before training begins.

5. Stay Hydrated

You want to drink enough water to replace what you lose through sweat, but remember that hydration is an ongoing process. Make sure your fluid intake is adequate at all times — beforeduring, and after activity.

6. Refuel After Your Workout

Exercise depletes your body of energy and can damage muscle tissue, so it’s important to replenish your glycogen stores (the body’s main source of fuel) and supply some protein for muscle repair within about an hour of working out. Studies indicate that taking in a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein can help you accomplish both goals. Aim for 15 to 30 grams of protein and 30 to 90 grams of carbs after your workout.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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6 Ways to Get Stronger

23 Jun

Every athlete can improve his or her performance by getting stronger.  Whether your sport involves running, jumping, hitting, throwing, or kicking, strength training can help you do it better.  Your sport-specific skills aren’t going to be enough if you’re the weakest, slowest player on the court or field.

Here are 6 ways to get stronger:

  1.  Get in the weight room.  I know this one sounds like a “no-brainer,” but I also know a lot of athletes who aren’t getting their work done in the weight room (you know who you are).  Strength training is not about having time to workout, it’s about making time.  Conditioning, and playing and practicing your sport, are not enough.  In order to get stronger, you’ve got to lift, push, and pull heavy “stuff.”  As I mentioned in last week’s article, you won’t get stronger by grinding out 3 set of 10 reps.  Building strength and power – for most exercises – requires that you work with a weight that challenges you for 4-6 repetitions per set.
  2. Set a goal.  What do you want to accomplish?  Maybe you want to run faster or jump higher.  Perhaps you want to throw, hit, and/or kick with more force or velocity.  Setting a goal for yourself is the first step.  You have to know where you want to go before embarking upon your journey.
  3. Have a plan.  Once you determine your goal, it’s time to develop a plan.  Your plan should include action steps that lead you from point A (the present) to point B (your goal), including exercises, repetitions, sets, intensity, volume, and frequency.  Make sure your plan is SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound).  And remember, your action steps must be consistent with your goal.
  4. Work your entire body.  Forget about “body part” training, working only certain parts of your body on specific days.  You should train like to work, play… and live.  That means it’s important to work all your major muscle groups, every time you workout.  Your body is meant to work as a functional, interconnected unit.  Make sure your training is functional, and reflects the demands of your sport, by training movements and not just muscles.
  5. Rest and refuel.  Every time you workout, you break down muscle.  Allowing yourself some time (48 hours is a good gauge) to recover, following your workout, helps your muscles to rebuild and recover in preparation for your next bout of strength training.  Nutrition – including post-workout nutrition — is important.  Active individuals should aim for 0.6-0.8 grams of protein, per pound of body weight, per day, including 20-30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of strength training.  Athletes may need as much as one gram of protein, per pound of body weight, per day.
  6. Get some help.  Consider enlisting the help of a reputable, qualified, and experienced certified strength training professional, at least to get you started.  He or she can guide and instruct you through exercise selection, proper form and technique, appropriate sets and repetitions, injury prevention strategies, nutrition guidelines, provide motivation, and more.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Eat for Recovery

3 Oct

cherries_may311If you’re an athlete or active individual, at some point you have experienced/will experience post-workout (or post-game) muscle soreness.

And, while there are lots of strategies that help to promote recovery – rest/sleep, stretching, foam rolling, ice bath, acetaminophen/ibuprofen, to name a few – diet and nutrition, as a recovery strategy, is often overlooked.

Since post-workout muscle soreness is inflammation-related, foods with high anti-oxidant properties that fight inflammation should be incorporated into your diet to help with the recovery process.  Here are a handful of examples:

  • Spinach – loaded with vitamin E, as well as anti-inflammatory flavonoids and carotenoids found in plentiful amounts in its leaves.
  • Salmon – particularly the wild, Alaskan variety, is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids; you can also add other oily fish like anchovies, mackerel and sardines.
  • Walnuts – an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
  • Tart cherries – promote faster recovery of muscle strength; researchers also found that tart cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food,” even more than other antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries and pomegranates.  (melatonin-rich tart cherries may also improve sleep quality)
  • Olive oil – can reduce inflammation, which may be one of the main reasons for its health benefits; the main anti-inflammatory effects are mediated by the antioxidants; key among them is oleocanthal, which has been shown to work similarly to ibuprofen.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Strength Training as an Injury Prevention Strategy

6 Apr

24-pro-foam-roll[1]While it’s impossible to prevent every injury, research shows that strength training can help individuals reduce the incidence and severity of injury.  Here are a few tips that can improve your odds of making your body injury-proof.

Fuel Your Workout

Strength training requires energy.  Everyone’s different but, as a general rule, you should eat a balanced, light meal or snack 30-90 minutes prior to working out.  Aim for a carbohydrate to protein ratio of about 3:1.

Warm-up

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we prefer a dynamic warm-up (no stretching) to prepare for our workouts.  Using light-to-moderate weight, try doing kettlebell swings or a barbell (or dumbbell) complex.  Body-weight exercises — like burpees — will work, too.  You can also do a lighter warm-up set prior to any exercise in your regimen.

Do It Right

Don’t cheat by only pushing or pulling half-way, and don’t get so enamored with the amount of weight you lift that you sacrifice proper technique in the process.  Lift and lower the weight (or your body) through the entire, intended range-of-motion.

Push and Pull

Agonist-antagonist paired sets help to ensure that you’re developing muscular balance and joint stability, in addition to strength, by exercising opposing muscle groups (for example, the bench press and row).

Stretch… After

Post-workout stretching helps to relax and elongate muscles.  Stretching also facilitates oxygenation and nutrient uptake in muscle cells.

Foam Roll (pictured)

If you’ve never tried a foam roll massage, it’s a must.  The foam roll uses your body weight and position to deliver a deep-tissue massage.  They’re available, inexpensively, and most come with an instructional DVD.

Refuel

Post-workout nutrition should be consumed within 30 minutes of your workout.  Your body needs carbs to replenish muscle glycogen stores (think of glycogen as stored energy) and protein (preferably whey) to rebuild muscle.  16-18 ounces of chocolate milk is a great choice.

Rest

It’s the rest days between workouts that help your muscles grow bigger and stronger.  Allow a rest day between training days.  Rest (including adequate sleep) is essential to the recovery/regeneration process.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Muscle Recovery 101

13 Jul
Peanut Butter, Banana, and Honey on Whole Grain Bread

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Honey on Whole Grain Bread

The way exercise works is actually pretty simple.  Exercise helps stoke your body’s fat-burning and muscle-building capabilities.

The harder (and higher intensity at which) you train, the better response you get.  Moderate- to high-intensity exercise stimulates the mobilization of your fat stores (that means it gets fat out of “storage” and into the bloodstream where it can be used by the muscles as energy).

This effect can last up to 24 hours (some experts contend the effect lasts even longer) and allows you to burn more fat even when you’re not exercising.

After your workout, your body is hungry for and ready to convert consumed proteins into new muscle.  Depending on your strength and fitness goals, consuming the right nutrients after your workout can help you burn more fat and/or add more muscle.

CARBOHYDRATES

Volumes of research prove that consuming carbohydrates within 30 minutes post-workout can stimulate muscle glycogen re-synthesis (energy, in the form of stored glucose, in your muscles).  This can help restore your muscles’ energy supplies for future workouts.

PROTEIN

Equally as important, consuming protein, particularly its essential amino acids, immediately after and up to 3 hours post-workout provides the body with the building blocks for muscle protein synthesis. When you combine carbs with protein after a workout, especially a prolonged, resistance training session, you can maximize the results of your strength training regimen.

POST-WORKOUT (Carb + Protein Combo) SNACKS

Here’s a short list of ideas for your next post-workout snack:

  • Banana with peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt with berries/fresh fruit
  • Hard-boiled egg and apple slices
  • Lean turkey/chicken breast sandwich on whole-grain bread with lettuce, tomato, and sliced avocado

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Post-Workout Nutrition for Endurance Exercise

6 Jul

mile18[1]Endurance athletes and enthusiasts — all you distance runners, cyclists, and swimmers — this one’s for you.

There’s a lot of available information (and opinions) about post-workout nutrition and recovery for strength and power athletes.

Here’s an informative resource for those athletes and exercise enthusiasts whose activity more heavily engages their oxidative and slow-glycolytic energy systems.

In her article, Endurance Exercise: Fatigue and Recovery, Amber Kleckner, PhD discusses what you should eat and drink after an endurance workout and provides some examples of each.

The article also describes the psychological and biological mechanisms that lead to exhaustion and muscle soreness.

Push yourself when you exercise, and be smart about your recovery strategies, to look, feel, and perform your best.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Pre- and Post-Workout Carbohydrates

16 Mar

high-carbohydrate-foods[1]Carbohydrates are important before your workout, to provide fuel for your exercise session; and after your workout, to replenish glycogen (the stored form of glucose) stores in your working muscles.

But, what are the best types of carbohydrates to consume before and after your workout?

The glycemic index (GI) is a way of measuring the body’s response to food.  A high GI food will cause a rapid and high elevation in blood glucose and a commensurate rise in blood levels of insulin.  Conversely, low GI foods will lead to a slower, more sustained blood glucose concentration.

Processed foods and foods with added sugar tend to have higher GIs; while less processed foods — including whole grain, high-fiber carbohydrates — usually have lower GIs.  Foods with carbohydrates that also have protein and/or fat also tend to have lower GIs, such as milk and dark chocolate.

Although the quality of your pre-workout meal or snack may not always significantly impact performance, studies lean toward a rationale for low GI carbohydrates before a workout, especially if the workout is longer in duration.

To accelerate restoration of glycogen stores following a workout, high GI carbohydrates may be a better choice.  High GI carbs are also appropriate between games of a double-header, or at half-time of a sporting event.

Here’s an informational article about the glycemic index that describes the differences and effects of high and low GI carbohydrates.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Fuel Your Body After Your Workout

22 Dec

pGNC1-13512491dt[1]Your muscles do not grow during exercise, regardless of the intensity of your workout.  Exercise is important, but it’s only the stimulus — or trigger — for growth.

You’ve got to rest and refuel your body, following a workout, in order to strengthen your muscles, and post-workout nutrition is essential for growth.

When you eat protein after your workout, your body breaks it down into amino acids, which are used to repair and rebuild muscle fibers, a process known as protein synthesis.  One amino acid, in particular, warrants special mention.

Leucine is a natural amino acid that is found in your body. Leucine and the branched-chain amino acids, isoleucine and valine, make up almost one-third of your muscle protein. Simply stated, leucine triggers muscle growth.  Leucine breaks down faster than other amino acids, and works to stimulate the production of protein and energy molecules in your muscles.  For this reason, synthetic leucine is often used as a food supplement to help athletes rebuild muscle and increase their physical endurance and strength.

When you’re buying a protein supplement, check the label to make sure it has a full complement of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).

Aim for 30 grams of protein per meal, including post-workout.  As long as you’re eating enough calories overall, you’ll get enough leucine to optimize muscle growth.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Add an Egg to Your Protein Shake

8 Dec

egg[1]Next time you prepare a post-workout drink, crack an egg (or two) in your whey protein shake.

Egg protein is a high-quality, lactose-free protein source, and makes a great complement to whey protein.  Egg protein stimulates muscle growth and has been demonstrated to increase muscle protein synthesis in university studies.

The egg white and yolk proteins are high in nutrients; one large egg contains about 6.5 grams of protein; and the egg white protein content is about 3.6 grams (slightly more than half of the total protein content).

Egg Protein Benefits

Eggs contain a high concentration of leucine.  Leucine is the major amino acid responsible for stimulating the synthesis of muscle protein after a meal (the only protein source that contains more leucine than egg is whey).

Egg protein contains 10% to 20% more leucine than most other protein sources.  It is more anabolic (muscle-building) than both soy and wheat protein.  Egg protein increases lean-body mass more than both of those protein sources — even at equal intakes.

Egg protein is quickly and easily digestible, at a rate similar to whey protein.  Consumption and digestion of egg protein leads to a large increase in plasma amino acids and commensurate muscle-building response.

Consuming egg protein promotes satiety (fullness) and can reduce short-term food intake, which may be beneficial for people looking to lose fat — but don’t want to feel like they’re starving themselves in the process.

Egg protein is also a great source of important vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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