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Post workout recovery/food is a topic of much debate.
Some like to just guzzle water and air! Other’s have a specific scientific concoction of turmeric, protein, milk, enzymes, minerals, and who knows what else that they take. There are some that drink a beer! Yet even others go and eat a full meal. No matter what you think is right for you and what you’ve heard on the internet – here are the “undisputed musts” for your body’s recovery and progress after a workout. I’ve ordered them from most important to more intended for the professional athlete.
- Carbs & Protein: To help your muscles recover and to replace their glycogen stores, eat food that contains both carbohydrates and protein within 30mins to 1 hour of your exercise session if possible. If this can be whole foods (lean meats, veggies, and healthy starches) you’ll make the best kind of gains for recovery, muscle growth, and fat loss. Worst case scenario should be a quick protein shake taken with milk, coconut water, almond milk, or some other kind of carb that will help transfer the protein well to your body. Don’t take your protein with just water if you can avoid it. Plus check your protein sources for unnecessary sugars and chemicals that taste good, but reverse your hard work in the gym.
- Water & electrolytes : Don’t forget to drink fluids. You need adequate fluids before, during and after exercise to help prevent dehydration.To stay well hydrated for exercise, the ACSM recommends that you: Drink roughly 2 to 3 cups (473 to 710 milliliters) of water during the two to three hours before your workout. Stay hydrated my friends, not thirsty. Water is generally the best way to replace lost fluids. But if you’re exercising for more than 60 minutes, use an electrolyte refiller mixed with your water. Something like Ultima can help maintain your body’s electrolyte balance and give you a bit more energy because it contains carbohydrates.
- BCAA & Creatine: Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty. Branched-chain amino acids, aka BCAAs, have been a hot topic amongst athletes, strength coaches, and fitness professionals. In that time, BCAA supplementation has become a mainstream practice for amateur and professional athletes alike. There are a variety of claims associated with BCAAs including increased lean muscle mass, improved recovery time, and increased strength. BCAAs are a worthwhile supplement if you are a competitive athlete and/or your training goals are focused on performance. If your goals are more centered on health and body composition, BCAA supplementation probably isn’t necessary in most cases. In other words if your goals don’t involve standing on a podium or winning a national title, you are probably better off spending your food budget on groceries and protein supplementation. Creatine on the other hand serves as an essential part of the phosphagen energy system. This system is responsible for powering short duration, high-intensity movements such as weightlifting, sprinting, and jumping. Think “Fran” 🙂 Numerous studies have found that taking creatine results in improved body composition, increased strength, and faster sprint performance. As a result, creatine tends to be popular with football players, bodybuilders, strength athletes, as well as track and field athletes. Explosive athletes tend to yield the most from creatine. Creatine has also been found to reduce core temperature and heart rate in trained endurance athletes. Something we probably want in the gym as well. Both of these supplements I would not recommend for anyone who’s still in their first year of high intensity functional exercise. But, once you’ve put in the hours and have a small mastery of weight lifting and gymnastics you might want to consider using BCAA’s and creatine.
What’s your favorite supplement or post workout recovery food? What questions do you have about supplements? Post your questions below!