food

Best Post Workout Meals: Part 2

Workout Food

In our last post, we learned how important it is to eat post-working out. In this second installment, we learn how the right balance of foods can help you recover after exercise.

After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow muscle proteins.

Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.

Doing this helps your body:

• Decrease muscle protein breakdown

• Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth)

• Restore glycogen stores

• Enhance recovery

Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle

Exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein and even the most advanced athletes experience muscle protein breakdown.

Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue.

Studies have shown that depending on your body type, ingesting 20–40 grams of protein maximizes the body's ability to recover after exercise.

Carbs Help With Recovery

Your body's glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.

The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training.

For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (e.g. running or swimming), you might need to consume more carbs than a bodybuilder.

Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important.

Fat Is Not That Bad

Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits.

For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk.

Moreover, another study showed that even when ingesting a high-fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out, muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected.

It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.

Best Pre Workout Food Routine

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As Caroline noted in her last VarCity post, we know a lot of you will be hitting the streets this new year.  Whether you’re an experienced runner getting back into a running routine or run/walking for the first time, what you put in your body is just as important as what you wear when you start running.  Consider food as part of your gear and follow this best pre workout routine.  

WHAT TO EAT

The best pre workout food is roughly the size of your fist.  That’s about the size of what you need to eat before and after you exercise.  So, think small pre workout food  appetizer, not meal.  The best pre workout food should include carbs with some protein, says Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a certified specialist in sports dietetics. The traditional peanut butter sandwich is a great option as a pre workout snack.  Eat half of the sandwich one hour before your run and half soon after.  Low-fat chocolate milk works very well, too.

WHEN TO EAT

One of the biggest mistakes new runners make is to skip pre workout food altogether, so you don’t have any fuel to keep you going, says Ms. Bonci. Plan to eat one hour before your run to boost energy without upsetting your stomach.

When you’ve finished running, eat within 15 minutes of stopping — it helps the body re-synthesize muscle glycogen and recover more quickly.  It may also help prevent or reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness.

Your workout snack shouldn’t replace a meal. Keep your routine of breakfast, lunch and dinner and add in the pre- and post-exercise snack.  That means eating at least five times a day.  “When people are physically active, anything under three meals a day is not going to be enough,” says Ms. Bonci.

Tom Brady: How the Greatest Eats to Stay Great

Tom Brady Diet

Even though Tom Brady’s teen years are far behind him, VarCity is always looking to get health and fitness ideas from people out there doing it best.  And with 5 Super Bowl wins, 4 Super Bowl MVP awards, 12 Pro Bowl appearances and more division titles than any quarterback in NFL history (14), Tom Brady definitely qualifies.  Tom Brady's personal chef Allen Campbell recently sat down with Boston.com and let us know the quarterback's top food preferences.  Below are the interview highlights and please note that VarCity hasn’t verified any of the dietary claims made by Tom Brady’s personal chef.  Also, if you want to read the entire unedited interview click here.

1. You mentioned that your philosophy was a great match with what they were looking for in a chef. How would you describe your philosophy as a chef?

Campbell:  My philosophy is that a plant-based diet has the power to reverse and prevent disease.

2. How does that philosophy translate in terms of what you cook for Tom, Gisele, and the kids?

Campbell: So, 80 percent of what they eat is vegetables. [I buy] the freshest vegetables. If it’s not organic, I don’t use it. And whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, millet, beans. The other 20 percent is lean meats: grass-fed organic steak, duck every now and then, and chicken. As for fish, I mostly cook wild salmon.

3. What ingredients don’t you use?

Campbell: No white sugar.  No white flour. No MSG.  I only cook with coconut oil.  Fats like canola oil turn into trans fats...I use Himalayan pink salt as the sodium.  I never use iodized salt.

4.  What else?

No coffee.  No caffeine.  No fungus.  No dairy.  The kids eat fruit.  Tom, not so much. He will eat bananas in a smoothie. But otherwise, he prefers not to eat fruits.

5. What are some recent meals you’ve cooked for the family?

Campbell: I’m all about serving meals in bowls.  I’ve just did this quinoa dish with wilted greens. I use kale or Swiss chard or beet greens.  I add garlic, toasted in coconut oil.  And then some toasted almonds, or this cashew sauce with lime curry, lemongrass, and a little bit of ginger.  That’s just comfort food for them.

6. How different are Tom’s meals before games compared to what he normally eats?

Campbell: It’s really not different.  The only real difference [in terms of the kinds of things I cook] is seasonal.  In the wintertime, it’s going to be more red meat and more soups and root vegetables.  And in the summer, they eat lighter, so I’ll make raw lasagna and more salads.