Post workout Nutrition
We’ve had a couple of questions recently about post-workout nutrition. But before answering what’s best for you, we need to know who “you” are. Post-workout nutrition very much depends on the goal of the athlete, be it; for strength and performance gains; or for weightloss and health, in the form of minimising inflammation and general longevity. So lets split this into two.
For the performance athlete your two concerns are volume of training and recovery. Post-workout nutrition is a factor in the latter of those two concerns. Within the fitness world, sugar and carbs in general have a very bad reputation. That being said, the unique effect of carbohydrate and specifically high GI sugars on the body play a huge role in recovery from either “HITT” style interval training or weight training.
This relationship between sugars and recovery comes from the effect on a specific hormone in the body that you may be familiar with, Insulin. Insulin, which is known to most for its part in diabetes, is like figurative lighter fuel to the body in the form of recovery. True abuse of this hormone and too regular spikes in levels from too much sugar can lead to resistance and eventually diabetes. Something that is lesser known, however, is Insulin’s highly “anabolic” effect on the body. The word anabolic (synonymous with bodybuilding and steroids) means to build. This spike in insulin before, during and after training allows for greater improvements in strength and recovery rate.
Protein shakes or “workout shakes” can contain a lot of different ingredients but the main parts are the sugar to increase the body’s rate of recovery and the protein content to facilitate the repair of tissues.
For optimal performance aim to get your post-workout nutrition in within the shortest time span possible after training. There is much conjecture within the sports science world about how long this supposed “window of opportunity” exists but generally speaking, the sooner the better. In my experience postworkout nutrition in liquid form is perable for convenience and its easier absorption.
For those looking to shed excess fat stores the role in post workout nutrition is more about timing of intake. To capitalize on the body’s “fat burning” post-workout, we would look to fast for around 90 minutes. Fasting post training forces the body to mobilize fat stores to help recover from training and give you energy. However, if training regularly and hard, fasting post workout is not optimal for recovery and will seriously hinder performance and strength gains.
CrossFit trains all energy systems and some are better suited to this type of post-workout routine. Lighter metcons and longer aerobic work would be a good choice when fasting but when dealing with higher percentages of your 1RM and performing big compound movements I would advise a postworkout shakes, but consider perhaps choosing slightly lower sugar options.
Listen to your body, play with amounts of post workout shake and if your recovery still isn’t where you would like it to be then you can look at increasing sugars, likewise if you find yourself losing too much weight and unable to increase strength, sugars increase would be the best choice. If you are still unsure what would suit you then be sure to grab one of the coaches for some individual advice.