Post Workout Recovery Meal

Maybe you just started a new health kick or your consistent training routine is not yielding the results you were used to anymore. Are you trying to get stronger, leaner or maybe gain muscle? Possibly you are an athlete or weekend warrior, you’re putting in the work, but you’re not getting stronger, your energy is down or your lean/fat ratio isn’t improving. Well, it could just be that your post workout recovery meal isn’t what it should be.

You’ve gone to the effort to find the right gym, maybe the right trainer. You work hard vary your routine regularly and eat the right balance of carbs, proteins and fats all while watching your calories, so what gives?

chocolate milk pouring into glass from pitcher - Ultimate Health Personal Trainer Toluca Lake

It’s true breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it’s also true you should spread your calories out into 5-6 meals and snacks a day, but what about after your workout? Post exercise there is a magic hour during which the body’s glycogen uptake increases significantly. This means during this hour the body will absorb carbohydrates at an accelerated rate. The reason 
for this is simple. During exercise, particularly vigorous exercise, the body expends muscle  glycogen (muscle sugar) to power movement. In addition to this muscle suffers tissue damage measured as creatine kinease (CPK). Blood levels of catabolic hormones such as cortisol increase to hasten tissue breakdown.

What does this means to you? Speed muscle glycogen replenishment, and reduce cortisol levels and you will decrease CPK levels as well. This means sparing lean body mass, increasing metabolism and faster recovery for your next workout. This all leads to a leaner, faster, stronger, more energetic body.

We know that we have an hour to best take advantage of metabolism by having a post recovery meal, now we also know what works best. There are several good peer reviewed studies that show that a meal of a carbohydrate ratio to protein of 3 or 4 to 1 is best. Example: 40 grams of carbs and 10 grams of protein. The studies show that the presence of protein in the 4/1 mix greatly improves glycogen uptake over just carbohydrate intake. Studies also show that the presence of fat slows uptake (fats slows digestion). So, for best results fat intake should be restricted during this time.

There are many good post workout recovery formulas available, but they can be expensive. The one I recommend for my clients is low fat chocolate milk. Low fat chocolate milk is as stated low in fat, has a carb to protein ratio of either 3 or 4 to 1 depending on brand, is full of electrolytes, and the protein is a naturally nice blend of 80% casein and 20% whey protein. Add to that it just tastes damn good.

So, after your next hard workout have suitable amount of low fat chocolate milk within an hour, hit the showers and follow with a balanced meal at least an hour later. Don’t forget you still need to account for the calories so limit to 2 ounces for every half hour of moderate exercise or 4 ounces for every half hour of intense exercise. Double if you won’t eat again for 2 hours or longer.