What You Eat After Exercise Matters

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Many of the
health benefits of aerobic exercise are due to the most recent exercise
session. The nature of these benefits can be greatly affected by
the food you eat afterwards.

Differences
in what you eat after exercise produce different effects on your
body’s metabolism.

Specifically,
the study found that exercise enhanced insulin sensitivity, particularly
when meals eaten after the exercise session contained relatively
low carbohydrate content.

Interestingly,
when the research subjects in this study ate relatively low-calorie
meals after exercise, this did not improve insulin sensitivity any
more than when they ate enough calories to match what they expended
during exercise.

This suggests
that you don’t have to starve yourself after exercise to still reap
some of the important health benefits.

Enhanced insulin
sensitivity means that it is easier for your body to take up sugar
from your bloodstream into tissues like muscles, where it can be
stored or used as fuel. Impaired insulin sensitivity, also known
as insulin resistance is a hallmark of Type II diabetes, as well
as being a major risk factor for other chronic diseases.

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s
Comments:

Jack LaLanne
once said:

“Exercise
is your king, and nutrition is your queen. Together they create
your fitness kingdom."

And as this
new study shows, what you eat after your workout can actually influence
its positive effects on your body. What the researchers found was
that all exercise sessions increased insulin sensitivity.

This was to
be expected as exercise is one of the most powerful tools you have
available to normalize your insulin levels. This is important because
elevated insulin levels are one of the primary drivers for high
blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and weight gain. But
the foods you eat are equally important to maintain healthy
insulin and leptin levels
.

What was more
interesting in the study was what happened after their post-workout
diets were changed. When participants ate fewer carbohydrates after
exercise, this enhanced insulin sensitivity significantly more –
even more so than eating a low-calorie meal.

What this
means is that you don’t need to starve yourself after a workout,
and in all actuality doing so may slow down your metabolism because
your body goes into starvation mode.

Expert Tips
on What to Eat After Your Workout

Darin Steen,
a personal trainer who is sharing his comprehensive experience in
fitness on my new site Mercola
Peak Fitness
, has shared some of his expert tips on what to
eat to get the most benefit from your exercise routine.

Generally
speaking, after exercise your body is nitrogen-poor and your muscles
have been broken down. That’s why you need amino acids from high
quality animal proteins like humanely raised organic free range
chicken, grass fed beef and eggs, as well as vegetable carbohydrates.

It’s
important to combine a quality protein and a carb (veggie type)
together in every meal, no matter whether it’s a resistance
training day, an interval cardio day, or a non-workout day, and
ideally you should adjust the ratio according to your unique nutritional
type
.

Darin has
broken the equation down even further post-workout, and recommends
eating a different combination of foods depending on what
type of workout
you did that day:

Aerobic/Cardio
Post-Workout Meal

After a cardiovascular
workout (fat loss day), wait 45–60 minutes, and then consume
a high-quality source of protein (whole food) and vegetable-type
carbohydrate. An example would be a spinach salad and some chicken.

The reason
why you’ll want to wait an hour after the session to eat is
to ride the fat-burning wave of your cardio session. However, waiting
more than an hour is typically too long, and can send your body
into starvation mode.

My favorite
post cardio meal is a Miracle Whey protein shake, some coconut milk,
Organic India Psyllium, and two raw eggs that are blended with a
hand mixer.

Resistance
Post-Workout Meal

You want your
meal after a resistance workout (muscle-building day) to be absorbed
rapidly

This is the
opposite of what you’ll typically want, because when a meal
is absorbed quickly because of refined carbs, there is a good chance
your blood sugar will rise too fast, and the carbohydrates will
be stored as body fat.

But after
a resistance workout, you’ve just primed the pump with an intense
workout (with weights), and you have a one-hour window of opportunity
to shuttle in nutrients, amino acids, glycogen, and other anabolic
nutrients to help repair your damaged muscles.

If you miss
this one-hour window, the chances that your muscles will be able
to repair themselves, which makes them bigger and stronger, diminish
significantly.

So the best
post workout meal on resistance training days is whey protein and
a higher glycemic (fast released, starchy) carbohydrate, such as
a banana. The potassium in the banana seems to help with recovery.
The whey protein is already pre-digested so it is absorbed rapidly.

You’ll
want to this post-workout meal 15–30 minutes after your intense
weight-training session.

My favorite
post strength-training meal is the same Miracle Whey protein shake,
some coconut milk, and Organic India Psyllium, with two raw eggs,
but I add half a banana, and blend with a hand mixer.

Choose Whole
Food, Not Sports Drinks or Bars

Americans
spend hundreds of millions of dollars on energy drinks and energy
bars each year. Bar and drink makers add dozens of elements to these
products, including vitamins, minerals, herbs and whey.

However, the
active ingredients usually come down to two simple substances: Sugar
and caffeine.

When used
properly, these products may have some benefits for athletes when
they are using intense, high-level training that causes them to
lose more than a quart of water in sweat.

However, for
most of you, the vast majority of these energy bars and powders
only add hazardous toxins, chemicals, and useless calories to your
diet. Probably the worst of the worst would be fructose. You simply
should avoid this in a sports drink at all costs unless you are
losing more than a quart of water in sweat in 30–45 minutes.

The truth
is that eating whole, organic and biodynamic foods tailored
to your nutritional type
is the ticket to optimal performance,
whether you’re a professional athlete or a weekend warrior
at the gym.

If you have
not already done so, I recommend you read through my Nutrition
Plan
to get started on the path to optimal health, regardless
of your current fitness level.

I also recommend,
if you find you often resort to processed sports bars in a pinch,
that you stock up your pantry with the following post-workout staples
now, so they’re ready for you to grab after your next workout:

Beneficial
sources of protein include:

  • Organic
    chicken (dark meat for protein nutritional types)
  • Organic
    free-range eggs
  • Lean, grass-fed
    red meat
  • Whey protein
  • Nuts and
    seeds (preferably raw)

Beneficial
sources of carbohydrates include:

  • Virtually
    any vegetable (limiting carrots and beets, which are high in sugar)

  • Dark green,
    leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale or Swiss chard
  • Low fructose
    fruits like lemon, limes, passion fruit, apricots, plums, cantaloupe,
    raspberries, Avoid high fructose fruits like apples, watermelons
    and pears.

Five Principles
of Exercise

Your body
is an efficient machine, and if you do the same type of exercise
day after day, you’ll become quite good at it. However, when
exercise becomes easy to complete, it’s a sign you need to
work a little harder and give your body a new challenge.

So when you’re
planning your exercise routine, make sure it incorporates the following
types of exercise:

  1. Aerobic:
    Jogging, using an elliptical machine, and walking fast are all
    examples of aerobic exercise. As you get your heart pumping,
    the amount of oxygen in your blood improves, and endorphins,
    which act as natural painkillers, increase. Meanwhile, aerobic
    exercise activates your immune system, helps your heart pump
    blood more efficiently, and increases your stamina over time.

  2. Interval
    (Anaerobic) Training
    :
    Research is showing that the BEST way to condition your heart
    and burn fat is NOT to jog or walk steadily for an hour. Instead,
    it’s to alternate short bursts of high-intensity exercise
    with gentle recovery periods. That is one of the primary reasons
    I am so fond of the exercises my personal trainer has been showing
    me.

    This type
    of exercise, known as interval
    training or burst-type training
    , can dramatically improve
    your cardiovascular fitness and fat-burning capabilities.

    Another
    major benefit of this approach is that it radically decreases
    the amount of time you spend exercising, while giving you even
    more benefits. For example, intermittent sprinting produces
    high levels of chemical compounds called catecholamines, which
    allow more fat to be burned from under your skin within the
    exercising muscles. The resulting increase in fat oxidation
    increases weight loss. So, short bursts of activity done at
    a very high intensity can help you reach your optimal weight
    and level of fitness, in a shorter amount of time.

  3. Strength
    Training
    : Rounding out your exercise program with a 1-set
    strength training routine
    will ensure that you’re really optimizing
    the possible health benefits of a regular exercise program.

    You need
    enough repetitions to exhaust your muscles. The weight should
    be heavy enough that this can be done in fewer than 12 repetitions,
    yet light enough to do a minimum of four repetitions. It is
    also important NOT to exercise the same muscle groups every
    day. They need at least two days of rest to recover, repair
    and rebuild.

  4. Core
    Exercises
    : Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly
    in your back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides
    the foundation for movement throughout your entire body, and
    strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make
    your spine and body less prone to injury and help you gain greater
    balance and stability.

  5. Stretching:
    My favorite type of stretches are active
    isolated stretches
    developed by Aaron Mattes.

With Active
Isolated Stretching, you hold each stretch for only two seconds,
which works with your body’s natural physiological makeup to improve
circulation and increase the elasticity of muscle joints. This technique
also allows your body to repair itself and prepare for daily activity.

However, exercise
programs like pilates and yoga are great for strengthening your
core muscles, as are specific exercises you can learn from a personal
trainer.

You might
be aware that I have recently become interested in Ayurvedic medicine,
and yoga is an important element of that. In March 2009 I visited
the Miraval Health Resort in Tucson and had a great introduction
to yoga.

Focusing on
your breath and mindfulness along with increasing your flexibility
is an important element of total fitness.

So even if
a personal trainer is not in the cards for you right now, please
watch
these sample videos for examples of healthy exercise routines

you can do with very little equipment and in virtually any location.

Related
Links:

What
Should You Eat After Your Workout?

Advice
for Athletes – Eat Real Food

10
Reasons Why Exercise is Good for Your Weight

February
19, 2010

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