The most important determinant of your progress with your training is your total nutrition on a daily basis—that is, whether or not you are consuming the appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for your activity level, your genetics, and your goals. However, the next-most-important thing is how your post-workout nutrition looks. The reason why post-workout nutrition is so important boils down to one thing:
Your muscles are most metabolically active during and immediately following exercise!
Why it is important:
1. If you do not supply them your muscles with the appropriate fuel at this crucial post-workout time, you will fail to achieve optimal results from your training. For example, if you perform a workout comprised of free weight exercises with the goal of improving strength, you must realize that performing that workout actually causes your muscles to break down (making you weaker temporarily)—and only if the appropriate fuel sources are circulating in your body, will you actually end up re-building the muscle back stronger than before. If you fail to supply the necessary fuel, particularly right after your workout, you may become weaker and weaker over time by performing the workouts. Note: If fat loss is your primary goal, the same post-workout nutrition theory applies, because it is important to at least preserve the muscle you already have on a diet so that your metabolism stays up.
2. When you consume a significant amount of your daily calories after exercise, there is practically a 0% chance those calories will be stored as fat, whereas if you consume that same amount of calories another time of day, the chances they will be stored as fat are much greater.
3. Your training intensity will be higher when you make sure you eat correctly after training, and therefore you will burn more calories and also be less susceptible for injuries, all of which will help your training which will bring you further toward your goals.
4. If you refuel your muscles properly after a workout, your body will be recovered and ready to train again sooner. 5. If you take advantage of post-workout to satisfy some cravings for simple carbohydrates, you will be helping your body recover at the same time as you satisfy a craving, making it more likely that you can stick to your diet.
6. Many episodes of overeating are triggered by your body being in too high of an energy deficit at any given point in the day. This tends to happen when someone eats lightly to start off the day, exercises, and then neglects to refuel after the workout. At this point you have burned a ton of calories without eating enough, and it sets you up for a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episode which makes it very easy to overeat later in the day—after the “window of opportunity” post-workout to eat heartily without gaining fat has gone by. In this case, even if your total calories are correct, the timing is way off.
For post-workout nutrition guidelines, check out the sidebar!
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