Friday, May 7, 2010

Recovery Nutrition: What happens after exercise?

Our primary goals in the Hi-5 FitCamp are to A) Lose fat, and B) Gain muscle.

We've got the exercise part down. Everybody in the class has gotten stronger. Everybody in the class is using a pretty significant weight and most are actually using more weight than they thought they EVER would!

But what should we be eating after our class to ensure that we are moving closer to our goals?

To figure this out, we need to know what happens in our bodies as a result of exercise. Here are the Cliff-Notes on post exercise physiology.
  1. The harder the exercise, the increased oxygen requirement following exercise (high fat use during this period: work harder, burn more fat!!)
  2. Muscle carbohydrates are decreased because they were used for energy during exercise.
  3. Elevated hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine increase metabolism (increase in fat burning again!)
  4. Increased glucagon releases fat to be used as fuel
All of these things seem very exciting and are probably getting your hopes up. You're thinking "with all this fat burning going on, why should I eat?" After all at this point it probably seems that you shouldn't eat anything to keep the "fat-flame" burning.

But remember our second goal: Gain muscle. If you'll remember, most of you are quite sore on a regular basis following our workouts. Researchers think that this is mainly due to muscle trauma and breakdown. So we need to repair it. But what do we repair it with?

We need to eat something after exercise to begin rebuilding muscle. We need a some protein, some carbohydrates and it better have some vitamins in it too. The ratio for best recovery is 3:1 carbs:protein. There is a certain product that some may not think of but is actually a GREAT recovery beverage. It is:

Chocolate milk.

This has about 30-g of carbohydrates, and 8-10 g of protein. So there we meet our 3:1 ratio. It is full of vitamins and minerals and high quality protein which will allow our muscles to rebuild. In addition, protein takes longer to breakdown and thus increases our metabolism further. Not by a large amount, but by a significant amount that makes it better to have for a snack than carbs only.

Also, drinks are often digested quicker and absorbed faster than solid food because there is minimal mechanical metabolism, or breakdown that must occur. Therefore it gets into our blood stream quicker than just eating something.

Other options would be a fruit smoothie with 1/2 cup of yogurt, or even a powdered recovery drink such as Accelerade which has a 4:1 ratio. Still great, but chocolate milk might be your fastest, least expensive and best "bang-for-the-buck" recovery benefit.

So treat yourself to a nice glass of cold chocolate milk after morning workouts and enjoy your nice reward while knowing you are doing everything you can to burn fat and feed your muscle!!

Have a great weekend!

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