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Guess what? Harry’s coming back! Guess when? SOON. It’s going to be awesomeness on awesomeness on awesomeness. He’s already dropping knowledge on Post-WOD nutrition. Let’s give Harry an early warm welcome back!
Coach’ Corner…with Coach Harry
Down and Dirty on Post-Workout Nutrition:
Proper post-workout nutrition makes a huge difference on your ability to recover, improve, and get to your goals faster. The purpose of the post-workout meal is twofold: to repair muscle tissue, and to restore muscle glycogen.
When we workout, we create ‘micro-tears’ in our muscles. Nothing severe(hence micro), but we need to recover and repair before we hit it hard again. The macronutrient we need to repair muscle tissue is protein. And there is no substitute for that. We need protein in our post-workout nutrition regardless of age, gender, or ability level.
Also when we workout, we utilize our body’s most powerful fuel source, muscle glycogen. Muscle glycogen is stored carbohydrate in the body. Post-workout, when we have used a good portion (if not all) of our stored muscle glycogen, we want to include carbohydrates to bring those levels back up.
Now every athlete is different, so use the following as rough guidelines to get started. Take notes on how you feel and perform, and fine tune from there.
Protein and Carbohydrate Quantity –
Protein – Between 20-40 grams post-workout. 20g leans towards our smaller athletes, where 40g leans towards our larger. This window is a safe spot to work in, and when in doubt, round UP. Don’t exceed 40g post-workout, but I’d much rather see you get a little bit extra here, than not enough. Not enough is where we see problems in recovery.
Carbohydrate – Vary this amount with your workout. The longer the met-con, the more muscle glycogen we deplete. Here are some examples to get us started:
Just strength – Example: Deadlift 3-3-3-3-3 0g Carbohydrates needed
Short met-con – Between 3-8 minutes 10-30g Carbohydrates
Medium met-con – Between 8-15 minutes 20-40g Carbohydrates
Long met-con – Between 15-25 minutes 30-50g Carbohydrates
Super long (think Murph or Eva) – 25+ minutes 40-60g Carbohydrates
Protein and Carbohydrate Quality:
Protein – It’s OK here to get away from whole foods, and go with a protein shake. If you’d like to stick with a very strict Paleo approach, good on you, and seek out low-fat animal protein sources such as egg whites, chicken breast, or fish. If you choose this route, aim for roughly 3-5oz of lean meat to hit that 20-40g goal of protein.
For those who would have a hard time putting down chicken breasts post-workout, we recommend a protein shake. Supplement companies rant and rave on how their protein is the best and the brightest, but the truth is that any whey protein will do the job. We choose whey protein powder over others (such as casein powder), because whey digests in the body quicker than the others. Read the back of the label which will inform you of how much protein is in each scoop. Usually around ~20g protein per.
Carbohydrate – Some added flexibility with your choices here, with the goal of choosing a starchy carbohydrate post-workout. Two excellent choices are bananas or sweet potatoes. For reference:
A medium sized banana is roughly 25g carbohydrates.
For sweet potatoes, a medium sized baked sweet potato (about 4oz) is 25g carbohydrates.
We recommend sweet potatoes over fruit post-workout. A very, very quick explanation is because sweet potatoes are faster in converting to muscle glycogen. Sweet potatoes are dense in “glucose”, which translates faster than fruit’s “fructose”. Just like with our protein, we want to get our carbohydrates digested and into the muscles ASAP. The faster we do, the faster we recover.
Try slicing your sweet potatoes into ½ inch slices, top them with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for ~30 mins, or until soft. One word – Booyah.
Post-Workout Nutrition Applied:
Now let’s put this info into real-world WOD’s, to visualize a few examples:
Mary on Workout A:
Back Squat – Work up to a heavy set of 5 Worked up to 155lbs
Followed by “Fran”, 21-15-9 of Thrusters(95/65), Pullups Time: 5:45
Mary is shooting for 20g protein, and 25g carbs. She chooses: 1 scoop of whey protein powder along with 1 medium sized banana.
Tim on Workout B:
“Angie” – 100 Pullups, 100 Pushups, 100 Situps, 100 Squats Time: 16:20
Tim is looking for 30g protein, and 40g carbs. He chooses 1.5 scoops of whey protein, and about 8oz of baked sweet potato.
1. Your body is a sponge post-workout, and is craving the nutrients we are feeding it here. Protein and carbohydrate utilization are greatly increased, given the state we are in after we hit a hard WOD. If these high carbohydrate recommendations surprise you, know that the negative effects of a high carb meal are mitigated in this window. All of those incoming nutrients are driven straight to the muscles, where they need to be, and not to the fat stores. So have at it. Sweet potato up!
2. Minimize fat post-workout! Fat is great throughout the day, as it slows the digestion of food , and is an excellent slow-burning fuel source. However, in the post-workout window, we want those proteins and carbohydrates to digest into the body ASAP, expediting our recovery. Since fat would slow that process down, let’s keep it out of the PWO meal.
3. Pre-plan. Bring your post-workout meal to the gym, and enjoy it on your way home, or as you cool down with mobility. Shoot to have your meal within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.
4. Have a well-balanced meal 1-2 hours later, rich in whole proteins, veggies, and healthy fats.
As always, reach me at my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you may have. These are some examples of where to start – but not where to end. Take note of how you feel and perform, and we’ll fine tune from there.