If you put in the time at the gym you want to get the most out of it right? And you never want to hold back for fear of being “too sore” for another workout. That’s why focusing on eating right to maximize your recovery is so important!
When it comes to maximizing the gains from your workout (aka muscle gain and fat loss), there are two essential nutrition windows:
- 30-minute post-workout window
- The other 23 hours in the day
Post Workout Window
Many people know that protein is essential after a workout, so they drink a quick protein shake. What they don’t know is that carbohydrate is required to “spare your protein intake” from being used for energy instead of what you want, which is to repair muscle mass.
Within 30 minutes of your workout, you should consume carbohydrates and protein in a about a 2:1 ratio. This ratio is for both cardio (see how to refuel after a long run for more specific info) and weight lifting. In WTE? Meal Plans Custom Plans I usually build this into a snack with a protein shake of choice and a banana or other portable fruit that can be consumed at the gym. However, if you are not a protein shake fan that’s totally fine, you could simply choose to eat your next meal after your workout as well.
I don’t recommend going under these ranges because you may not get enough protein to support recovery fully.
I also don’t recommend going beyond these ranges because research shows the body can’t do much with the protein ingested beyond these ranges in one sitting. It will likely get turned into energy and if unused, stored as fat.
- 20-30 grams of protein and 30-60 grams of carbohydrate for a female
- 30-45 grams of protein and 45-75 grams of carbohydrate for a male
Keep in mind your carbohydrate level depends on a few things:
- Your current body weight and composition
- Your goals (weight gain/loss)
- The current state of inflammation and tolerance to carbs (aka insulin resistance)
We individualize these in custom meal plans or for clients who desire to count macros.
Eat Well Throughout The Day
One of the most common testimonials and feedback we get on both custom meal plans and subscription meal plans is how much better our clients feel during their workouts. With our plans we are both optimizing their post-workout recovery and what they eat throughout the day. Here is how we break it down.
Because the body can’t digest 100 grams of protein all in one sitting, it’s important to get it in smaller doses throughout the day to promote muscle recovery. Aim for 30% of your calories in a day to come from protein for optimal recovery. What kind of protein should you consume?
- lean meats
- dairy – casein
- Cottage cheese contains casein a slow burning protein that as a bedtime snack has been shown to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat percentage.
- egg whites
- protein powders (no more than 1-2x a day) – collagen, plant-based, whey, etc…
Our subscription meal plans provide 90-100 grams of protein per day in every meal plan (a reasonable minimum for most women), and our custom plans are customized to your goals so you can see how to get it in.
Overeating carbs can be just as problematic as eating too little carbs. For subscription-based meal plans, the carbs are set at 35-45% or about 100-150 grams per plan. It’s harder to take carbs away in a meal plan then provide them so, this amount allows you to always add more by eating a piece of fruit or an extra serving of carbohydrates if you need to. For custom plans, we typically use carb cycling to help get enough carbohydrates to recover from workouts while still keeping carbs low on rest days.
What kind of carbs should you eat?
Right after you’re done working out you want faster acting higher glycemic index carbs:
- dried fruit
- Eating dried tart cherries after workouts have been shown to dramatically reduce muscle breakdown, pain, and inflammation within the body.
- More processed foods like bread, crackers, etc.
- Pomegranate juice & tart cherry juice have been researched for their ability to reduce muscle soreness and enhance recovery.
Throughout the day:
- whole grains
You’ll want the remainder of your calories to come from healthy fats. Working out creates inflammation in the body correlating with muscle soreness and weak recovery. To help the body fight inflammation, you’ll want to focus on getting enough Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Good sources of omega 3’s include:
- Salmon (also a great source of protein)
Of course, other healthy fats should be consumed, such as a variety of nuts and seeds, avocados, and grass-fed dairy (if tolerated). Try to get 1-2 servings of omega three rich fats per day.
To recover from your workout the best you possibly can:
- Refuel with 30 minutes with a 2:1 ratio of carbs and protein
- Get enough protein throughout the rest of the day.
- Include anti-inflammatory healthy fats.