Today, I have some important advice for those of you who workout, either with the goal of building muscle or losing fat in mind. A great workout doesn’t end when the last muscle has been stretched and the last bead of sweat dried from your brow.
No, it ends when you replenish those fluids and feed those muscles that you have just worked so hard. After a workout, especially a sweaty one, remember you need about the equivalent of a bottle of water (16 ounces) to replenish the fluids lost through sweat, and within one hour, you need to feed your muscles a good quality protein.
In order to build the muscles you want, and see those gains in size and strength, your muscles need adequate protein after a workout. This ensures that your body won’t go into such a calorie deficit that it decides to feed on the muscles you already have, breaking down the tissue that you are trying to make bigger.
When you are weight training, you are breaking down the muscle, and in order for it to build back up, bigger and stronger, it needs appropriate fuel. This fuel needs to include amino acids (part of a complete protein). After lifting weights, your muscles continue to repair themselves for the next 48 to 72 hours, and you need to have good, quality protein in your system during this time.
Feed your muscles within an hour after your workout, and keep eating quality protein at each meal throughout the day.
Most people ask me, “Henry, what do I eat before my workout? Should I just skip breakfast if I workout first thing in the morning?” Well, it depends. You should eat a carbohydrate about an hour before your workout. This will ensure that you have the needed energy to get through your workout. If you wake up and go right to exercising, don’t eat too much or you’ll find yourself throwing up during intense activity. If you’re going to do a light workout, then a light snack prior should be okay.
Also, it is important to drink water during your workouts, not sports drinks. There are a lot of added grams of sugar and tons of sodium in these drinks, which aren’t great for you anyway, but can give you cramps while you exercise.
Even if you are just trying to burn fat and lose weight, and have no concerns about building muscle, you need to follow these guidelines so that your workout isn’t sabotaged. Without providing the body with fuel, you will also see all your hard work come to naught. The body will go into starvation mode and you won’t lose the weight. So, pack, make sure to feed those muscles appropriately to see the gains you want.
1) CW Health and Fitness. (2010). Retrieved from http://cwhealthandfitness.com/
2) International Sports Sciences Association. Nutrition: The Complete Guide. 2010