One of the most important things you can do for your body is to eat properly after a training session. When you exercise, no matter if it’s aerobic training or strength you have used glycogen to fuel at least part of the session as well as body fat. Your body after training is primed and ready to make more stores of carbohydrates ( known as glycogen) form the foods you eat. Delaying eating after training will lead to less glycogen being made form the food you eat as well as a decrease in your energy levels for the day. When we are tired we are also likely to crave sweets and other high sugar snacks as our body is tired and the brain is looking for a ‘quick hit of fuel’.
So how do you fuel properly after training? Below is a checklist to remind you of some key points to remember in post training eating. The most important thing to do is to eat a large snack or meal within 30 minutes of finishing training sessions for optimum glycogen replenishment. Most people get focused on having their protein after training. You hear everyone talk about having their ‘protein powder’ post training but what people should really be doing is having mainly carbohydrate as well as protein post training.
- Eat within 30 minutes of finishing training
- Best is to have a proper meal or a large snack
- If doing aerobic/endurance training aim for a ratio of 3:1 carbohydrate:protein
- If doing strength work/weights aim for a ratio of 3:1 or 2:1 carb:protein
- You only need around 15-20 grams of protein post training to help stimulate muscle protein synthesis
- You can then eat a higher amount of protein at the next meal to continue the muscle protein synthesis if that is your goal
- The BEST time to eat carbohydrates is POST TRAINING
- Carbs do not have to be starchy but this is where starchy carbs can best fit in to a meal plan
- Carbohydrates can be grain, fruit, vegetables etc. it depends on what your eating goals are such as paleo, vegetarian etc.
- Post training is when we SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID of CARBOHYDRATES
- If you don’t eat enough carbs your body will use protein that could be going towards muscle building and will turn it into glycogen anyways so you might as well enjoy a slightly higher carb meal
- How much in total you should eat also depends on your body size and how long you have exercised for but in general your post training meal should be the biggest meal of the day.
- Meals that are not post training should be smaller
- For females, we are looking at 40-45 grams carb and 15 or so grams of protein post training in a 3:1 ratio for a 45minute to one hour session
- For males, we are looking at about 50 grams carb and 15-20 grams of protein for a 45 minute to 1 hour session
- These amounts will go higher the longer you are training for
- The amounts will also depend on your body size and training goals, the amounts will increase with the taller/heavier you are
- If you are doing a 2:1 ratio after heavy weight then females will be more 40:20 and males will be a 50:25 or there about (nothing is exact, I am giving suggestions for you to play around with)
Please remember these are only guideline amounts, it is up to you to have a play around with the size of your post training meal. If you cant get to a meal have a snack that contains carbohydrates until you can get to a proper meal. If you do a longer workout, take the volume of food higher, the same goes for if you are still hungry after the amounts suggested. Research will suggest 1-1.2 grams of carb per kilogram of body weight as the carb amount post training. I agree this is a great amount if you have done a solid session or it was long, but play around with this amount, goo lower if it feels like too much food and still stick to the 3:1 ratio if you have been doing endurance training.
If you are someone who has not been eating properly after training you will feel vastly different once you give this a try. I have seen it vastly increase peoples energy levels for the rest of the day. Give your body a chance to refuel itself properly, it will also give you a full fuel tank for the next time you train and support your bodies immune system.
IF you are doing intermittent fasting and you train on empty please do not continue to fast after your session. I am finding many people are taking the idea of intermittent fasting (IF) too far and in the long run this is not great for your body. Don’t get me wrong I am all for IF when it works for you and your schedule but it also needs to be realistic and to support how your body is functioning not put it into crisis mode.
You see when we train, we increase many of our stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenalin, which is a normal part of exercise. When we wake in the morning our cortisol is already at its highest for the day as well, which is part of what helps us to wake up. So, if you train on empty this means our cortisol stays high and then if we do not eat post training it will also stay high. The best way to turn cortisol back down is to eat something. The post training meal not only replenishes glycogen stores but is also a signal to the body to become anabolic (building) rather than catabolic (breaking down). Your immune system is challenged by exercise and by eating after training it is also a way to then support your immune system. By not eating post training for a few hours you may think you are continuing to support your body’s use of body fat as a fuel but the issue is high cortisol for long periods of time is what tells the body there is an emergency or a crisis such a famine or danger. When the body thinks it is under attack it will try to ‘hold’ onto stores of body fat just in case there really is a food shortage and thus we have our typical stomach/hips body fat storage. It is one reason many people find it so hard to shift the body weight around their middle ‘muffin top area.
Intermittent fasting can be great for athletes, be it doing 5:2 but the 2 days are not training days or you do a longer overnight window of not eating, though I am a bigger fan of eating breakfast by 9 or 10 and not eating late at night, especially for women who are even more sensitive to cortisol some would say. But I shall leave the in-depth talk about intermittent fasting until the next newsletter.
In the mean time if you want more information or to book an appointment you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org as always or take a peak at my online education portal as I have recently created a few more offerings such as recordings of lectures I have done or my 7 week online Uberhealth for Athletes education program.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and have a try at some of the ways to make your self feel that much better with your training.