Sunday, February 27, 2011

Feed me, Seymour!

If you are attempting to build muscle, the most important meal you eat will be the one you consume following a workout. The post workout meal has a very specific purpose and that is to rebuild and repair the (good) damage you just inflected on your muscles. Remember, the basic goal of weight training (for mass gain) is to force the muscles to break themselves down so that they can rebuild themselves stronger. If we don't provide the nutrition they need to complete that process then we will be left with muscles that never reach their full potential.Some things to remember when considering your post workout food options:

Include protein and carbohydrates
Following a workout, our body uses protein, which consists of amino acids, to build and repair muscle, and carbohydrates to restore muscle glycogen (an energy reserve in your muscles). If we do not get sufficient carbohydrates (energy) following a workout, our bodies may in fact inefficiently use the protein as energy by converting amino acids to glucose rather than using it to repair muscle tissue.

Consume this meal as soon as possible
The timing of this meal is important because you want to give the body the nutrients it needs to repair itself as soon as possible so the "magic" may begin. Most books I've read suggest waiting no longer than an hour with 30 minutes being ideal. This period, know as the golden hour, is when the muscles absorb the most nutrients and when the glycogen is replaced most efficiently.

Avoid Fat
Fats, good or bad, should be avoided because they slow down the digestion. Now, we know that time is of the essence following a workout so any element that will slow down the process is not recommended. This brings us to an interesting point : I am (obviously) a HUGE advocate of whole foods. They are nutritionally power-packed, more complete, full of fiber, have lower glycymic index values, etc, etc. However, protein in whole foods digests pretty slowly and by the time the protein is digested and ready to use, a lot of time has passed. Many people recommend a whey protein supplement to bridge that gap because liquids are quicker to digest and therefore quicker to get to work. Personally, I'm not looking to enter bodybuilding competition any time soon so I don't always heed the liquid protein advice even though I agree with the concept. To me it just isn't that important at this stage. However, when I do grab liquid protein following a workout, I tend to stick with soy proteins and natural sources such as spirulina.

My post workout meal following an AM workout is almost always a green smoothie
One of my favourite meals after a PM workout is the following. Both these dishes are super quick and can easily be made the day before to save time:

Miso Glazed Salmon (Protein)

I'll work on better photos ;)
4 tbsp raw honey
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp miso paste (I usually use red but you could use whatever you have on hand)
4 salmon filets
Cooking spray
Green onions (chives in the summer)

Whisk the first four ingredients together, set aside
Spray a shallow baking dish with cooking spray
Arrange salmon in dish
Spoon a 1/3 of the mixture evenly over fish
Cook under the broiler for 10 minutes or until fish becomes flaky, basting twice with miso mixture.
Sprinkle with green onions

Basic Tabouleh (Carbohydrates)
1 cup raw bulgur
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cucumber, diced
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Place bulgur in bowl
Pour boiling water over the bulgur, cover and set aside for 20-30 minutes

Whisk garlic, lemon juice and oil in a bowl
Season with salt to taste and set aside

Combine mint, parsley, tomatoes, and cucumber with the bulgur
Toss with dressing and season to taste

I almost always add hot sauce to my dressing
Chopped spinach works well in this dish and adds nutritional value
Chickpeas are also delicious in this salad

Take some time to think about what (if anything) you are putting in your body following a workout. Are you giving it what it needs to maximize 100% of the effort you just gave in the gym? If not I hope this has helped to get you thinking about the benefits of planning your post workout meal :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Peace and Love,

Lady Stardust

1 comment:

  1. You have some great tips here! Keep going, I'd like to read more :)