How do I eat after my workout?

What do I do after my workout?? 

There are so many “theories” out there about what an individual needs post workout.  This blog post is intended to help guide you in finding what works best for you, the individual, when fueling your body post-workout.

First thing to remember is that you are an individual.  There is no one created like you before in history and there will be no one exactly like you in the future.  So that means you will have to “test” to see exactly what works best for you after your workout.  We call this the “Input vs. Output” process.  You try something out.  Record in your journal how you feel afterwards and well you perform in your next workouts.  Take note of how your digestive system reacts to what you put in your mouth.  If it gets upset, then you may want to find something else next time.  Keep this process up until you “dial in” on what you feel works best.

To start you off on a good foot, here are some things that we have found to work really well with the majority of our athletes (individuals).

1) A good quality, fast-assimilating protein.  Whey protein from grassfed cows milk is the most nutritious supplement that we have found you can put into your Post-Workout regimen.

Stronger Faster Healthier has a high quality product for a fair price.  Click this LINK to browse their website.  Enter in the discount code: No Excuses when checking out.

2) Some athletes benefit from replacing their lost energy, in the form of glucose, from a tough WOD.  So eating something with a good amount of sugar, or starch carb that eventually turns into sugar, is helpful.  Things like: Sweet Potatoe, Dried Dates, or some other fruit.  One of my favorites is Coconut Water.  The unflavored kind. 🙂

3) Plenty of water.

4) There is strong observational and clinical research supporting a 10 minute to 30 minute window after intense exercise as being the best time to feed your body nutrients.  Particularly protein and carbohydrate.

Here is what Robb Wolf and James OPT Fitzgerald have to say, both are well respected S&C Coaches in the US.:

Robb Wolf’s recommendations:

For those interested in what to eat after a workout, here’s some insight taken straight from the Paleolithic Solutions seminar:

“After exercise we have a phenomenon called ‘non insulin mediated glucose transport”. It’s a period of time in which we can fly glucose and amino acids into the muscle without much insulin AND we improve recovery. For large WODs we can shift upwards of 50% of the day’s carbs into the Post Workout (PWO) period. The optimum time for this is less than 15 minutes PWO, it’s still good at 30 min, and almost back to baseline by an hour. Timing is critical if you want the most from this!

Might help with fat loss… might not. Be clear about GOALS!

  1. Athletic maintenance at 14-17 cals/lb
  2. Strength WOD: 25-50 g Protein & Fat or Carb (need to lean? gain?)
  3. “Big” WOD: 25-50 g Protein, 50-75g Carbs
  4. “Little” WOD: 25-50g Protein & Carb
  5. Multiple sessions? Throw some in after both WODS.”

Obviously it is up to you to experiment with different PWO options to find what works best for you, to meet your specific goals.

OPT’s recommendations:

James Fitzgerald  (OPT – of Optimum Performance Training in Calgary, winner of the 2007 CrossFit Games) provides Pre- and Post-Workout recommendations based on the volume and intensity of the workout and your bodyfat percentage

8. Pre-WOD Fueling rx’d.
This is VERY individualized, VERY. Depends on your schedule, your digestion ability, the WOD, etc. But, for “general” purposes, I will give some scenarios.
A – your WOD is Fran (or any high power output/gassy WOD), and you are doing it at 5 pm. I would suggest eating your last meal around 1 pm to 2 pm at latest. Between this time, you only consume fluids (caffeine anyone?), and supplements if you so choose. You get to the gym at 4-4:30 pm, begin warm-up and anticipate the oncoming pain. The empty gut will benefit you immensely for these high power output WOD’s. Pretty much if the WOD is going to kick your ass, then you had better make sure that you are running light on the food (3hr+ post)and heavy on the motivation.

B – if you are doing the same WOD at 6 am. Wake-up, warm-up, and get’er done. Fluids, such as Ultima, or some kind of electrolyte may be beneficial to YOU. If you are eating, make sure it is not much more than what you could pick from your teeth following a handful of cashews, as it will only be coming right back up – if the WOD is done correctly. At this time, warm-up is even more important.

C – your WOD is Deadlift, 1-1-1-1-1-1-1. Bring your lunch pale and do as you please. Whether done in the AM/PM, eating food will not affect your performance, as this is a CNS WOD.

D – if the WOD is A1/A2/B1/B2 style, with short rest times, moderate (or more) amount of sets and reps, then you would want to follow the advice from Scenario’s A & B (shown above).

9. Post-WOD Fueling rx’d.

The sooner the better, in most cases. The rx’d numbers are based on everyone’s BF% b/c its all I know about those who post…outside of that there are WAY too many factors for determining EXACTLY what you need post WOD except to say “experiment” and play with it…but i would be happy to answer questions regarding this on the daily posts about your own situation the best I can…

I’d suggest for those that are “blocking” to experiment as I’ve done with a lot of folks and do not count your post workout fuel in the day allotment for a few reasons, one of which is that this is the time to play with that…and secondly…I’ve found it a little better for recovery with the various exposures you’ll get here…that is different that other recommendations simply b/c it is different training…that’s all.

As for fat, the research shows that it might help in post WOD nutrition…Di Pasquale tried hard to tell Charles that but I’m in Poliquin’s camp that the leaner the person is, you basically load them up with as much sugar as they can handle without fucking up the daily insulin rhythm post WOD…as it yields so many good results…for example, I Rx up to 80-100 g carbs post WOD for an 8% athlete being trained for their sport under CF methodology…and they STILL take on 12-15 carb blocks per day…so yes, that is 10 blocks post WOD plus 12-15 in day…and they gain mass and have better 5K runs, DL x 1, 2K rows and max chin ups…and I think it is due to the leanness and the uptake ability..this changes of course the fatter you get…BIG TIME… so stay lean…as nothing tastes as good as being lean feels!

Options – If you can handle dairy protein post workout, then that is likely you best option, in powder form. This is depending on the workout. If the workout is not a gasser (i.e. Deadlift, 5-5-5-5-5, 180 sec + some other strength work) then eating a balanced PFC meal of whole food will be fine. If it is a sweaty WOD, then follow the rx’d post WOD fueling, trying to hit the number of rx’d protein and carbs, with minimal fat (Refuel + Jarrow or Dream Whey – from OPT Store is a great combo to meet the requirements).

Best Protein Options – Hormone free whey (dairy) protein isolate, goat protein isolate, leaner cuts of meat (chicken, turkey, deer, elk, beef, etc.), organic yogurt + whey protein. There are lots of options (especially in the OPT Logbook). As long as the source is CLEAN, and the protein is COMPLETE (i.e. not vege based), then you will be fine – just select the right amount.

Best Carb Options – some kind of sugar (i.e. Maltodextrin – Refuel) works well for the harder WOD’s, organic Yam/Sweet potatoes are fine too. Apple sauce, pineapple, pretty much any fruit/high starch vege will be fine. Just pay attention to how you feel an hour or two later (energy, cognitive ability, digestion issues?, etc. – be aware). If you do experience any negative effects from your food choice – protein or carb, then it would be wise to find out what caused it, and avoid it for the time being because it is impeding your recovery – which is most important. Again, whatever you choose, keep it clean – just select the correct amount.”