You’ve just worked out. Exhausted. Famished. You don’t know why you agreed to finish off your training with ANNIE after you already had an hour of strength conditioning. Not to mention the 50 thrusters and 20 wall balls AMRAP for 12 minutes in between. For lack of a better word, you’re dead.
But what should you eat? You’re so hungry that you might just lose it and eat the strawberry pop tart you put in your freezer last week. But we both know that strawberry dream is not an option and that your pop tart addiction never ends well.
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.
Your Post-WOD meal depends on two things; what you ate during the day and how intense your training was. The macronutrients in charge of it all - Protein and Carbohydrates.
Protein plays a vital role in building and rebuilding muscle mass and strength, due to its essential amino acid profile. Branched chain amino acids (BCAA) found in protein increases protein synthesis and decreases 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 in reducing exercise induced muscle damage and accelerating the recovery process.5
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 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 high-intensity and/or resistance training to maximize nutrient uptake and recovery. Which is true, in a fasted-state.
If you’re training in an overnight fasted state, 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.
In a fed-state, or if you’ve eaten one to two hours before your training session, then consuming a post-workout meal, or drinking a protein shake post workout 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-workout 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-workout 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, in a fasted-state
If you don’t have time to sit down and have a home cooked meal within one or two hours of your training session then your best bet would be a form of liquid protein or Whey Protein Isolate. Whey Isolate is proven to elicit greater anabolic effects through stimulating muscle protein synthesis and enhancing exercise recovery.1
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- 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.