Let's talk post workout nutrition (and why I am eating ice cream before noon!)
One of the BIGGEST mistakes I see my clients make is not fueling properly post-workout! Under-fueling and over-fueling are super common. So as we're all getting those home workouts out, let's also take this time to learn a bit about nutrient timing and how to refuel those muscles properly! Cue the science nerd in me for a few minutes:
Why is it SO IMPORTANT to refuel properly after exercise? First of all, you just put in all of this HARD WORK which I am sure you did for a reason ;)
The Science of Refueling: Let me just make a few things clear real quick- The main goal of post-exercise fueling is to replenish glycogen stores (aka energy for workouts stored in muscle) and facilitate muscle repair. The amount of refueling needed is dependent on the time and intensity spent exercising. For a slow, lower intensity workout (i.e. walking for 30-45 min), refueling may not be required. For bodybuilders, highly active athletes, and endurance athletes, I recommend refueling with some proper nutrition. So let's dive in:
1. Glucose is an important fuel for contracting muscle and post workout our muscle gylcogen (let's call it muscle glucose) gets depleted. There are these wonderful receptors on the muscle cell walls called GLUT4 glucose transporters that like to "open up" and allow glucose to enter the muscle cell in order for that glucose to be stored as glycogen aka energy for your next workout.
2. Exercise training is an incredibly powerful stimulus to increase skeletal muscle GLUT4 expression.
3. Exercise causes Glut4 expression in an insulin independent manner- HOWEVER- insulin does help! Insulin comes into play when we eat simple carbs (sugar, potatoes, white bread, banana, juice, etc) as it wants to clear this sugar from the blood asap. As muscles are primed during this time to take in glucose/sugar, insulin helps shuttle this blood glucose into the muscle cell to help replenish muscle glycogen.
4. Do we absolutely need an insulin spike? No! But is a combo of protein AND carbs a good idea post-workout? Yes! And some studies support that glycogen synthesis is better stimulated when both are present. Regardless, with a combination, we can replenish our muscle glycogen quickly for our next workout via carbs and the protein helps with muscle tissue repair.
So- back to why I am eating ice cream: As you may have guessed by now, for the carbs of course! I am eating it post-workout along with a protein shake. Now, that's not to say you should go down a tub of Ben&Jerry's after every workout. Remember what I said above- the amount of refueling will depend on your workout intensity and time.
Examples of Solid Post-workout meals include:
Post-workout recovery smoothie with greek yogurt, milk of choice, protein powder
Low-fat chocolate milk
Turkey on a whole-grain wrap with veggies
Yogurt with fruit
Sweet potato and eggs
1-2 protein waffles with 1 TBSP PB and banana slices
OR if you are really itching for something sweet, don't save that ice cream for later- now is a better time to have the sweets if you're going to include them in your daily intake.