Raise your hand if you’ve committed to going back to the gym or exercise class or have switched up your program.
Yep, along with a whole bunch of other people who are on the other side of drinking and eating too much, your jeans feel like they shrunk in the wash or you are lacking in strength and stamina. Changing up your workout from running to more strength training, or boxing to weights and bootcamp will, in the long run, have you super fit, trim and strong. And there will be pain along the way.
Heard of the DOMS? You’ve felt it, I don’t doubt. You know it as the pain of lifting your arm to brush your hair, bracing yourself with the handrail as you attempt to gracefully walk down the stairs, easily sit down on the toilet, or generally move any muscle that you previously didn’t realize is a part of your body. This “delayed-onset muscle soreness” kicks in about 24 hours after your workout and seems to reach a peak at about 48 hours… Just as you think you should be able to move without flinching.
What you eat after your workout sets you up for the next. It sounds a bit nuts, but refueling after a workout is crucial. Each time you work out or exert yourself, you use stores of energy called glycogen, that are stored in your muscles. If you’ve had a strenuous and challenging workout, then you likely used most of it. The faster you replenish your stores, the better your recovery and the better you will feel. Replenishing those stores takes carbs and repairing your muscles needs protein. In this case, not all carbs are created equal.
Post Workout Know-How
- Your body is tearing all its muscles as you work out. That repair requires protein and lots of it. Consume at least 20 grams of protein: about one scoop of a high-protein powder into your shake, one and a half eggs (one egg has 13g) or 5 egg whites, a 200g tin of tuna or a 190g tub of plain Greek yogurt.
Here are some meals that my trainer at The Motion Room suggested:
Tuna Sandwich – Hands-down my favorite post-workout snack. You get quality protein and fat in the tuna and carbohydrates from the bread. Remember to use 100% whole wheat or whole grain bread and loaded it up with tons of veggies.
Grilled Chicken and Mixed Vegetables – Your body is in recovery mode, so you need a nutrient-dense dish. The lean protein and carbohydrates in chicken will fill you up without feeling overly bloated.
Veggie Omelet with Avocado – We already know eggs are a great source of protein and help aid in muscle recovery and growth. Switch it up from the usual scramble and make a veggie-packed omelet. Garnish with a few slices of avocado for fiber and monounsaturated fats (the good kind!).
- Take BCAA (branched chain amino acids) during your workout to help recovery and avoid the pain and soreness or DOMS. Here are my favourites: Douglas Labs BCAA, Designs for Health BCAA (email for more info).
- After a run or cardio/endurance session, eat the 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein within 15 minutes of your workout. Try a small banana and follow with a protein meal (above) or shake within an hour.
- After a strength, weights or Bootcamp class, jump right into a high-protein meal or shake. Be choosy about any protein powder that you use. Plant-based powders are super healthy but sometimes lack protein. Ideally, a 20g per serving protein powder will deliver what you need. Add water or plant-based milk and some berries, while easy on bananas or mango.
- Take the homeopathic remedy arnica before and after. It’s a first aid remedy that helps inflammation and injury – exactly what’s happening in your workout. Apply arnica cream or gel to your sorest spots too.
I put the amino acid l-Glutamine into my water when I workout. It’s giving my muscles fuel and helping to boost my immune system too. My recovery is faster when I have another glass of water with a scoop or two pills of glutamine added (email for more info).
Not to ignore how important what you eat and drink before is. Slow-release carbs are your best friend here. If I’m doing a long run, I’ll eat oatmeal. If I’m heading to a workout, I eat two dates with coconut oil shoved in the center.
Hats off to you, and me, for getting back to exercise. It is our number one stress-buster, it helps us sleep better, improves our sex life and stamina, gives us energy and makes us feel just so good. The pain is short term and as you become stronger, it will become less. With the above, you can build muscle faster and recover easier.
Listen to my segment about post-workout refueling with Jerry Agar on NewsTalk 1010.