Post-Workout Nutrition

In last week’s Food for Thought Friday blog post I touched on Pre-Workout Nutrition. If you haven’t read it yet, click the link and check it out, you won’t regret it!

Naturally, as expected, we had a few people ask for a follow up blog post about post-workout nutrition, so I figured I’d give it a go this week.

Now, just like almost every conversation that has to do with nutrition, there will be differences of opinion on the details or the best products to use, supplements to take or food to eat, but over years of trying all sorts of different things, the information below is what I’ve found to work best.

And once again, just like last week, I’m going to do my best to keep this thing high level and short so I don’t lose any of you in the science or bore you with the details of why.

If you decide you want a more detailed answer, shoot me an email at david@crogacrossfit.com and we can figure out how to chat about the subject off-line over coffee or lunch or email.

So, here we go:

Once again, just like last week I’m going to give you this thing in steps to keep it as easy as possible to follow along.

Step 1: Decide what time of day you’re going to workout so you can decide if you can eat a post-workout meal or if you’re going to need to drink it. If you’re working out in the morning and are driving straight to work, you’re probably going to need to drink it. If you’re working out in the late afternoon, you’re probably going home after and eating dinner, so you can plan for food after.

Step 2a: If you’re going to drink a post-workout shake and not eat for a couple hours, make sure that you’ve got protein AND carbs AND fat available to you to consume preferably within 30-45 minutes of your training. My typical recommendation for our athletes that attend a 1-hour class is 20-35g protein, 25-50g carbohydrates and 10-20g healthy fats. Now, these numbers are debatable and can vary based on height, weight and your goals, but the rule of thumb is if you’re a smaller athlete you’ll be on the lower end of these numbers and if you’re a larger athlete you’ll be on the high end of these numbers. Also, on days that you do A LOT of work or feel especially fatigued you should be consuming larger quantities of carbs because they are the fuel source you most likely used during the workout and they need to be backfilled and ready for the next day.

I have 2 recommendations for consuming these nutrients post-workout in liquid form, but you’re free to source your own supplements as long as you’re getting them all.

Recommendation 1 is 1-1.5 scoops of Driven Whey (23g protein per scoop) with 1-2 scoops of Driven GlycoDrive (27g carbs per scoop) and then eat 1 individual packet of nuts from Trader Joe’s (maybe even the trail mix with a few M&M’s in it) or a small handful of nuts (think like 7-10 total).

Recommendation 2 is 1-1.5 scoops of Driven PostWOD (20g protein & 20g carbs per scoop) and then eat 1 individual packet of nuts from Trader Joe’s (maybe even the trail mix with a few M&M’s in it) or a small handful of nuts (think like 7-10 total).

Step 2b: If you’re going to be able to eat your breakfast, lunch, dinner or a makeshift meal after your workout I’d make the same recommendations for protein, carbohydrates and fat as with your shake, but I’d advise you to eat real food, not processed stuff. So, for protein you might have fish or chicken breast or lean ground meat or egg whites. For carbohydrates you might have rice (white or brown is fine), oatmeal, sweet potatoes or fruit. And for healthy fat maybe some nuts, avocado, olive oil, peanut or almond butter. Oh, and if I can convince you to eat a couple handfuls of greens like broccoli or spinach or tomatoes or any other veggies most people don’t typically like that’d be awesome, they’ve got a lot of stuff in them you can’t find elsewhere, they’ve got fiber that’ll slow digestion, which will keep you full longer, and they will help fill you up which will make you feel more full too.

As for figuring out how much of each thing to eat, my best suggestion is that you look up the nutritional facts of whatever you’d like to be eating and weigh out the food so you’re getting accurate numbers. For some benchmarks here, a medium sized chicken breast is about 30g of protein, 1 cup of rice is about 50g of carbs and a golf ball sized clump of peanut butter is about 15g of fat.

Step 3: Be PREPARED. Have your supplements ready by putting them in a container or a bag or your shaker bottle and bringing it to class for mixing after. Put your post workout meal in a Tupperware container and have it ready to eat when you get to the office. Or have the food in the fridge waiting to be cooked when you get home with a recipe planned as well. The best way to not get the proper post-workout nutrition is to not have a plan and then stop at a fast food restaurant on your way home because you’re freaking starving after crushing a 20 minute WOD at Cróga at the end of a long day of work.

Step 4: Reap the rewards of proper post-workout recovery fueling. Just like eating well or drinking the right stuff before the workout helps you perform during, having the right recovery plan is essential to getting the most out of all the hard work you’re putting in at the gym.

This post-workout stuff is a little more complicated because it’s a little more dependent on each persons specific size and goals, but once you’ve got it dialed in, it becomes a no brainer and a good habit.

I prefer to drink my post-workout fuel because I can adjust it as needed based on the work I did that day (by adding an extra scoop of carbs on a really high effort day, or keeping my shake a little lighter on the super easy days) and because I don’t have to worry about anything except having the powder and the water and consuming it while I’m driving to the next thing I need to get done.

Finally, a simple rule of thumb for those of you that are thinking about either gaining weight/strength or losing weight and need to know how to choose how much to consume. If you’re looking to gain, you need to eat/drink more calories, so load up the shake or plate. If you’re someone looking to lean out or cut some weight, you need to eat/drink less calories, be diligent about your portions and try to keep them on the lower end of the windows I gave you as long as that doesn’t cause you to be lightheaded or get a headache from not having enough to recover properly.

Just like last week, if you’ve got questions, I’ve got answers.

Shoot me an email at david@crogacrossfit.com and I’ll be glad to help guide you along your path and to help you reach your goals.

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