Whilst its very important to train hard whilst we’re at the gym, (like most things, the harder you work the better results you will get), its important NOT to forget the other side of the equation, which is the RECOVERY aspect of your training.
Just like a car needs regular services & maintenance to continue to operate well and prevent breakdowns, our body’s are the same. The harder you push it (a body or a car), the more maintenance is required.
A high performance car will require better quality parts, and better quality fuel & oil…
and a high performance body will require better quality food & nutrients as well as other recovery tools. (like massage, foam rolling, stretching etc.)
However unlike a car, the human body has the capacity to actually improve upon itself and get better over time. This is what we all want at the end of the day, and its helpful to understand the processes involved.
The more you understand and appreciate the importance of something and how it can help you, the more likely you will actually take action on it and make the effort to adopt it as a regular habit.
What Happens When You Exercise?
When we’re at the gym training, we are essentially imposing a demand or a stress on our bodies, it’s this consistent stress which forces our body’s to ADAPT, in form of getting stronger, adding muscle tissue (toning up), and improving our overall fitness and capabilities.
That’s really what all training & exercise is about
Stress & Adaptation
A good simple example of this are the calluses you might have developed on your hands from holding weights. This is your skin getting ‘tougher’ or adapting to better cope with the stress of holding onto heavy abrasive dumbells.
In terms of exercise, it’s the finer details of how to impose this stress appropriately, safely & most effectively, combined with the right recovery methods, which dictate results.
You don’t actually get fitter, stronger, or ‘tone up’ when you’re AT the gym training; you get results from RECOVERING from your training.
You need to get through the recovery stage before you can enter the improvement stage, and this is where good habits and a healthy lifestyle help a great deal.
Dialing in your post-workout nutrition is the first thing we want to do and it’s very important.
What exactly is post-workout nutrition?
Post workout nutrition basically refers to the nutrients we provide our body’s after a bout of intense physical training.
Here’s a few things you might not have known:
· Your body will deal with nutrients differently at different times, depending on activity.
· What you consume before, during, and after your workouts will have an affect.
· By consuming certain nutrients after your workout (post-workout), you can improve recovery, strength & fitness, and body composition.
After a hard training session, you’ve essentially damaged your muscle tissues on a micro level, whilst this is an essential part of getting stronger, leaner, fitter, ‘toning up’ in the long term, we need to ensure we repair our tissues and recover in the short term.
We want to move from a state called ‘muscle protein breakdown’ after exercise, to a state of muscle repair & recovery (which is called muscle protein synthesis) as quickly as possible.
The relationship between muscle breakdown and muscle protein synthesis will dictate your recovery, muscle growth, strength and performance in the long run. We want to spend LESS time in the state of muscle breakdown, and MORE time in the state of muscle protein synthesis.
We are in a unique physiological state after a bout of high intensity training, where we will utilize the food & nutrients we eat a lot differently to other times of the day.
This is often referred to as the ‘window of opportunity’.
During this window your muscles are primed to receive nutrients that can stimulate muscle growth, strength and recovery, we just need to have the right ‘building blocks’ and raw materials available, as soon as possible, to kick start this process.
The building blocks and raw materials come in the form of protein and the process of ‘protein synthesis’ is triggered when you ingest protein right after a training session.
Even carbohydrates consumed during this window will be used to replenish glycogen (carbohydrate stores) in our muscle tissue, and the insulin response that we generally want to avoid when eating carbs can actually be productive after a training session, as it will help to shuttle nutrients to your muscle tissue for recovery.
So The Quicker We Can Ingest Some Good Post-Workout Nutrition, The Better.
You’ve made the effort to get to training, you’ve put in the hard work during your session, to ensure you actually reap ALL the benefits from all your hard work we need to top it all off by providing your body with the right building blocks and raw materials to trigger the desired results.
What Is The Best Thing To Eat After A Workout?
If you’re doing a lighter cardio session like walking or jogging to burn some extra calories and help with fat loss then it is not necessary.
We’ve already mentioned the importance of protein; this is our number 1 priority after a training session.
You can certainly eat a real whole food meal to get your protein hit, however this may not always be the best or most practical option for a few reasons:
· Real food takes planning and preparation, which will generally delay how quickly you can ingest the needed nutrients to take advantage of the ‘window of opportunity’
· Real food will take longer to digest, we want the nutrients to be available as quick as possible.
· You might not feel like eating a real meal straight after training, drinking a shake is a lot more manageable for most people.
So a good quality protein shake is generally a better option for most, just keep in mind when choosing a protein powder, there are HUGE differences in quality from one product to the other.
You want to watch for excess sugar, artificial sweeteners, unhealthy ‘mixing agents’, and poor quality protein ‘fillers’. (Not all proteins are created equal). If you’re getting your protein shakes from 7-11 this is a prime example.
The processing method is also important, most commercial protein powders actually use processing methods (like high heat processing), which de-nature the protein, making it essentially useless to our bodies.
To be honest there’s probably 2 or 3 brands out of the many available that I would actually feel comfortable taking.
One of them being the brand we stock at the gym
I stock this because I believe in the quality ingredients they use (plus it actually tastes better than any other brand I’ve used)
However if you’re a strict vegetarian or off the dairy, another non-whey protein which is great quality is
Sun Warrior – Fermented Brown Rice Protein
Will protein shakes make you fat or hinder weight loss?
No, hopefully this post has explained it sufficiently, that in the long run, dialing in your post-workout nutrition will only help with fat loss and body composition.
With a sensible, long term mindset based around a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, you are helping the process of increasing lean muscle tissue, increasing your resting metabolism, and improving strength and performance so you can train harder.
With the ability to train harder and do more ‘work’ in an hour of time as you get fitter & stronger, you are providing more of a ‘training effect’ or stimulus or stress to your body. This has a snowballing effect in that the longer you train for and keep building upon your ‘fitness foundation’ and the more consistent you can be, the more benefits you will get from your training with the same investment of time.
For example an elite athlete can do a lot more ‘work’ in terms of levels of force output and calories burned than a sedentary untrained individual. They can get a big training effect from their efforts.
If you’re playing the ‘burning off the calories from the chips I had for lunch’ game, then protein shakes won’t help much in this regard, but you’ll find this approach and mindset leads to an endless process of short term ups and downs with little long term results anyway.
How Can You Get Some Good Quality Protein Powder?
If you’d like to jump in on the next order of protein powder that we stock at the gym, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are 3 flavours to choose from and they all taste great:
– Organic Raw Cacao (chocolate)
– Organic Vanilla
– Organic Cinnamon
Or go to www.iherb.com and order the fermented brown rice protein if you’re a vegetarian of off the dairy
Hope you found this helpful! 🙂
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