You just finished a great workout. Awesome job! But what’s for dinner? The eternal struggle of balancing weight training with nutrition is all too familiar to those who take their physical health seriously. You want to make sure you have the energy and calories for your body to recover but loading up with carbs and fatty foods could erase all the progress you made in the gym.
Ultimately, you want to listen to your body and respond to your individual needs; there is no one-size-fits-all nutrition plan for everyone. But here are some tips on the right steps you can take to maximise your workout gains while extending healthy habits to your diet as well. It is never the wrong time to get educated about your fitness and nutrition.
Treat Your Muscles Well
When it comes to refueling after your workout, providing your muscles with what they need to recover should be your top priority. When you lift weights, your body uses up all of the glycogen that is stored in your muscles. In order to replenish these essential nutrients, you will want to eat plenty of fresh fruit, starchy vegetables (cucumbers, broccoli, onions, celery, and carrots, to name a few) and whole grains.
It may seem counterintuitive, but when you lift weights, you are actually breaking down your muscles so that you can build them up stronger later. In order to account for this, you will want to make sure that protein plays a prominent role in your diet was well. This is especially important in the first 24 hours after your workout has taken place. Selecting protein-rich foods is crucial to achieving optimal muscle recovery.
Timing is Everything (Or At Least Something)
If you are serious about hitting the gym, pay close attention to your meal schedule so that you can feel good while your body recovers. You’ll want to start consuming food and fluids to refresh your body as soon as 30 minutes after your workout is done -- you may still be in your cooldown period at this time.
Replacing lost electrolytes should also begin as soon as possible (if you’re not a fan of those often-sugary concoctions, water is the best for getting your fluid levels back to normal and avoiding those awful dehydration headaches). Adding a small amount of Himalayan Sea Salts to your post-workout water can help to elevate your electrolyte levels even faster. Overall, you should try to consume about 150% of the fluid you lost throughout the course of your workout within four to six hours afterward.
Not Feeling Hungry? You Can Still Make it Work
About two hours after your workout, you’ll be in “phase two” of your recovery period. But a common problem that weightlifters encounter after they train is that they may not feel physically ready to consume a lot of food or drink. If you’re just not feeling in the mood to replenish, there are some actions you can take to get your body feeling ready faster. Studies show that ingesting small amounts of protein and carbohydrates after a workout can trigger the release of insulin, which will actually increase your glycogen levels faster than if you had eaten larger quantities of food.
Fortifying Immune Health
After you work out, you will need to help your immune system recover from the fatigue you’ve put it through (especially if you use a public gym, where germs abound!) Physical exertion suppresses the immune system, so opt for plenty of Vitamin C. But note that proper glycogen levels can also play a part in boosting immune health. It really is all about glycogen! For the yogurt lovers out there, probiotics can support your immunity, too.
Don’t Supplement Your Supper
If you’re unable to meet all your nutritional needs through your diet, be extremely careful about using supplements to fill in the gaps and leave them behind altogether if at all possible. Serious athletes have to be vigilant about avoiding supplements that could be prohibited in competition, and even casual athletes could experience nutritional and health-related pitfalls from introducing supplements into their diets. Some vitamins and minerals can be dangerous if taken in excessive doses, so do whatever possible to attain great nutrition through food.
Turn Your Fitness and Nutrition Goals into Worthwhile Career
Once you’re armed with the knowledge, there’s nothing that can stop you from eating a great diet that complements your top-flight workouts. For those who have already struck that perfect balance and consider themselves experts on the subject, PTA Academy is in search of great personal trainers who can pass their healthy-living knowledge along to others. You can choose from many different certification options, enjoy flexibility in deciding how and when you want to study, and earn your education at a reasonable cost.