• 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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