You’ve just worked out, exhausted and famished. 50 double-unders, 12 wall-balls, 8 toes-to-bar, 12 dumbbell-thrusters, and 8 burpees later.. you’re dead. But what should you eat after your workout for the best results? You’re so hungry that you might just lose it and eat the entire box of graham crackers that were reserved for summertime smores.
Without getting the right nutrients before, during, and after your WOD, you might as well hang up your speed rope and stop going. Nutrition is the most important aspect of your training and your overall success. Consuming the right nutrients is fundamental to maximize athletic performance and potential by repairing muscle tissue and optimizing recovery.
What to eat and when to eat after your workout depends on two things
Protein plays a vital role in building and rebuilding muscle mass and strength, due to its essential amino acid profile. Protein is rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) which stimulate protein synthesis (muscle building) and decreases proteolysis (muscle mass breakdown.)
Delayed onset muscle soreness or the pain that you typically feel several hours to a couple of days after intense bouts of exercise, is caused by small-scale tissue damage or tears to the muscle fibers. Essential amino acids provide the fuel for reducing exercise-induced muscle damage and accelerating the recovery process.5 Therefore, adding protein to your post-wod nutrition strategy is vital to fuel your results. You CrossFit for a reason, and I'm guessing you don't just do it just to lift heavy weight as many times as possible. It's about getting in shape, losing weight, getting stronger, and increasing muscle mass.
Glycogen is the major fuel source produced from glucose found in Carbohydrates. Glycogen plays a major role in supporting energy demands during high-intensity training and explosive movements such as those in CrossFit.3 For rapid recovery from prolonged exercise, it is important to replenish glycogen stores to initiate muscle repair and adaptation.4
Getting the proper and adequate amounts of essential amino acids from protein and glycogen from carbohydrates is crucial for post-wod nutrition, in order to replenish and initiate the repair process to optimize your training.
CARBOHYDRATE RICH FRUIT
Nutrient Timing: When Should I Eat?
Well, that depends. For years the general consensus was that you needed to eat within 45 minutes or within your anabolic window following your workout to maximize nutrient uptake and recovery. Which is true, in a fasted-state.
If you’re training in an overnight fasted state, (yes, in the morning) then your body undergoes a significant increase in muscle mass breakdown due to the amino acid deficit. Providing your body with adequate glycogen and essential amino acid stores, immediately following your workout, especially in the fasted state provides the fuel you need for optimal muscle growth and recovery. Insert, protein shake.
In a fed-state, or if you’ve eaten one to two hours before your training session, then consuming a post-wod meal, or drinking a protein shake post-wod may not be entirely necessary and may prove to be redundant. If you’ve eaten one to two hours pre-workout, dependent upon the size and composition, this meal can conceivably function as both a pre and an immediate post-exercise meal, since the time course of its digestion/absorption can persist well into the recovery period.6
My favorite pre-WOD Meal: Chocolate or Vanilla Whey Protein Isolate with one scoop of peanut butter, (PB2 if you’re watching your fat intake) and a Frozen Banana. It’s the perfect ratio of protein and carbohydrates. Plus, it’s delicious. You can thank me later.
Despite claims and the pre-supposition that drinking a protein shake or having a post-wod meal within a 45-minute anabolic window will maximize strength and recovery, the claims prove to be far from definitive.
Post-WOD nutrition is reliant upon your goals. If your goal is to increase muscular size, strength and overall mass, then yes, consuming a post-wod meal is what you want to do. However, if your goal is to optimize athletic performance, increase strength and maintain muscle mass then consuming a post-workout meal may be unnecessary and redundant.
My advice, listen to your body. If you ate chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes an hour before your WOD, chances are that your body has plenty of amino acid and glycogen stores to fuel your performance and aid in post-workout muscle recovery. In that case, take your BCAA supplement before, during, or after to further reduce muscle damage and accelerate the recovery process.
On the other hand, if you haven’t eaten for five to six hours and you’re dying of hunger, then make the right food choice, ditch your pop tart and eat a healthy ratio of protein and carbohydrates to replenish your amino acid and glycogen stores to optimize your performance. Consuming 20-40 grams of protein after your workout will stimulate the process of muscle protein synthesis to optimize repair and recovery.
Want to optimize your Post-WOD Nutrition and recovery?
Whey Protein Isolate is proven to elicit greater anabolic effects through stimulating muscle protein synthesis and enhancing exercise recovery.1
Elivate Nutrition is an endurance athlete and active lifestyle brand. Made for the elite athlete, and the strong-willed, not for the faint of heart, and not for the weak, our products were designed to fuel your athletic performance, increase strength and enhance recovery. Elivate products perform when you perform. We provide the nutrients you need, to power your active lifestyle.
- Hulmi JJ, Lockwood CM, Stout JR. Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010;7:51.
- Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008;48(3):347-51.
- Aragon, Alan Albert, and Brad Jon Schoenfeld. “Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-Exercise anabolic window?” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BioMed Central, 29 Jan. 2013, jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-10-5. Accessed 3 Sept. 2017.
- Ivy, John L. “Regulation of Muscle Glycogen Repletion, Muscle Protein Synthesis and Repair Following Exercise.” Journal of Sports Science & Medicine 3.3 (2004): 131–138. Print.
- Howatson, Glyn, et al. “Exercise-Induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-Trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-Blind, placebo controlled study.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BioMed Central, 8 May 2012, jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-9-20. Accessed 4 Sept. 2017.
- 63. Tipton KD, Rasmussen BB, Miller SL, Wolf SE, Owens-Stovall SK, Petrini BE, Wolfe RR: Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001, 281 (2): E197-206.