I’ve noticed at the gym lately that a fair amount of members don’t drink or eat something immediately after working out. This concerns me and got me thinking a little more about fitness in general. Everyone goes to the gym to achieve specific fitness goals but because of a lack of proper post-workout nutrition, they unknowingly stunt their progress. Having said that, let’s talk about an easy way to make sure you’re getting better every day.
There is great debate about exactly what people should be consuming post-workout in order to see the gains/improvements they are looking for. However, there is virtually no debate about the fact that you should definitely be taking something after an extended period of physical activity. Because CrossFit workouts are so taxing, they will cause your body to enter a catabolic state (the breaking down of muscle tissue). While this is completely natural during physical activity, the sooner we can reverse the effects the better. Proper post-workout nutrition will enable your body to initiate the anabolic phase (the rebuilding of broken down tissue).
The window of opportunity after a workout is a very real thing. You’ll want to consume something within 30 minutes of working out. Your muscle tissues are broken down and your glycogen stores have been depleted. Your body is primed for recovery and supercompensation but only if you take advantage of it. You can think of supercompensation as as state beyond simple recovery. Think about it this way: Your body enters a workout at “0” rating; you’ll finish it at a “-2” rating (everything is in a weakened, depleted state). Simple recovery gets you back to a “0”. Supercompensation gets you to a “+1” or a “+2”, which means you’re better than when you started (bigger, stronger, faster). That should be the goal for every exercise session. You’ll give yourself the best opportunity for this if you are fueling your body properly post-workout. In addition, the body continues to stay in a heightened recovery state for hours after exercise, so be sure to go home and get a proper paleo/zone meal in about an hour later.
*Note: Women will not get bigger unless drastic changes are made above and beyond nutrition. Examples include significant, increased food intake, testosterone supplements, etc.
Protein is shown to provide a powerful protein-synthesis stimulus, which will help you to build muscle (and therefore strength). Muscles need amino acids to recover and grow; amino acids are the basic building blocks of protein molecules. It is definitely best to consume protein in powder form. Protein powder is more easily absorbed than from food sources.
Studies show that carbohydrate ingestion results in faster protein and carb absorption, helping to restore lost glycogen. It is the breakdown of stored muscle glycogen that provides the energy for physical activity. If glycogen levels are too low, you’ll find yourself with little energy to function and muscle soreness.
The Stronger, Faster, Healthier products we sell will do wonders for your recovery. We’ve had tremendous results in using them. You might notice though that the Recovery product only has protein in it (no carbs). SFH’s philosophy is that simply consuming protein will help you to promote glycogen recovery; no carbs are required. After exercise, the body is already primed to make more glycogen. Protein consumption alone will initiate that process. They feel, because insulin sensitivity is heightened after a workout, the addition of carbs to a post-workout meal will only work to cause a massive insulin spike, which, for those familiar with the principles of the Zone diet, causes fat storage and muscle inflammation.
I’d like to reiterate that this is Stronger, Faster, Healthier’s stance on post-workout nutrition. Many other stances exist. You’ll also find recovery shakes that have mostly carbs in them. That’s fine. It is important to know, though, the effects of both protein and carbohydrate on your recovery so that you may make the best decision for yourself. Experiment with different options and see which works best. If you’ve found a recovery product that works for you, great!
*Note: CFK homies will definitely want to include protein given our continual weight-lifting practices and our strength goals.
Make sure you eat or drink something after rigorous physical activity. It doesn’t have to be what we sell, but you’re not getting the most from your workout if you let yourself go hours before consuming something. The goal is to finish every workout in better shape than when you started it. That certainly will not happen if you aren’t fueling the recovery phase.