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  • Bonnie

Post Workout Nutrition

You can train as hard or as often as you want, but if your efforts are not underpinned by an effective and consistent diet, then don’t expect to achieve the results you want. This is especially important when it comes to the effectiveness of your recovery.

What you should eat is dependent on what you did during your workout, but there are two consistent and unwavering truths – You need to refuel with both protein and carbohydrates.

Everyone is unique, so experiment with these principles to find the right way that works for you. Remember that convenience is king and will help you to stick to healthy habits. For example, if you need to eat your post workout meal but won’t have the opportunity until you get home, take the ingredients in a container/baggy and consume as soon as you finish.

Why is Protein Important?

Your organs, tissues, muscles and hormones are all made from proteins. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Proteins are made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains.

Whether it was a strength session or a metcon, you should always aim for 25 – 40g of protein post workout. This way you fuel your body for optimal performance during every workout, and to recover properly afterwards.

Valuable Protein Sources:

  • Whey protein

  • Chicken

  • Meat

  • Eggs

  • Fish

  • Broccoli

  • Sprouts

  • Chick peas

Great vegan high quality protein sources include:

  • sea veggies, like dulse or nori

  • nuts and natural nut butters

  • seeds, like chia, hemp, flax or sesame

  • beans and legumes

Energy from Carbohydrates

Foods high in carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity.

Sources of Carbohydrates

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Bananas

  • Corn on the cob

  • Broccoli

  • Rice

  • Bulgar

  • Cous Cous

  • Oatmeal

What you should know is that there are two types of carbohydrates:

1. Simple carbohydrates 2. Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates will supply you with a slow burning supply of energy. They typically have a lower Glycemic Index (the rate at which energy is released – measured in blood glucose levels) and will not give you spikes in your insulin levels. This in turn means you will avoid the inevitable crashes that follow the consumption of food and drinks that have a high Glycemic Index - best for before a workout.

Simples carbohydrates will start the whole recovery/muscle growth process. Following a hard workout, your body is severely depleted of glycogen and glucose.

So what happens is that the hormone cortisol is secreted, this is your body's "stress" hormone and it has very catabolic effects. What cortisol does is eat up muscle tissue for protein and convert it into glucose. A process called gluconeogenesis ensues, producing glucose from these amino acids in the liver. The net result is a loss of muscle tissue.

The post-workout shake prevents this. It also allows insulin to be released, this is, as most of you know, one of several anabolic hormones in the body (if you are a natural trainer especially, you want to maximize the release of all your body's anabolic hormones through all available methods).

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar and hence insulin levels. Normally, it is best to eat lower glycemic foods so as not to initiate an insulin spike (55 and under rates as low). But post-workout, the exact opposite is true.

This smoothie is a great option for post workout nutrition.


1/4 cup (60ml) of raw oats (pre-cooked before adding)

1/2 (120ml) cup soy milk,

1 scoop of whey protein powder, (=20g)

Half a banana,

Seven frozen strawberries,

Splash of vanilla extract and cinnamon

5 ice cubes

(40g carbohydrates, 27-30g protein, 4g fat)

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