Seven post-workout nutritional tips | Living North

Seven post-workout nutritional tips


Supercharge your workouts by fueling your body with the nutrition it needs – from carbs and protein to zinc and electrolytes, this is everything you should know from an expert

According to Dominic Bowser, senior trainer at Sound Mind and Body, ‘nutrition is all about balance. Your body needs food to fuel all the systems in the body – whether it’s hormone balance, gut health, energy to do things or building blocks for repair. ‘If you eat too little of a certain element your body won’t function as well as it should,’ he explains. ‘And, if you eat too much it will store what it can and get rid of the rest.’

The key to good nutrition is to eat simple, unprocessed foods that are nutrient dense, as these give the body a constant supply of everything it needs. Sound simple?

Unfortunately it’s not quite that easy. Keeping the balance right can be a little more difficult, as it all depends on the amount of energy you use, sleep you get and the type of exercise you do – amongst many other things. ‘To simplify it again, the more you do the more you need to eat,’ explains Dominic.
If you’ve recently upped your exercise or taken up running, you might be wondering why you’re not feeling your best. These six easy rules could help you to identify what you need to be incorporating in your diet, if you aren’t already.

Carbohydrates are mainly used for energy. They can be consumed as simple carbs – sugars and honey which release energy quickly as they are easily broken down to get the energy out – and complex carbs – think starchy things like bread, pasta, veg – these require more work for the body to breakdown and extract the energy, but have more nutrients in them and give a slower release of energy. Carbs are the main source of fuel for short bursts of energy, so you should use them to fuel explosive power and weight training sessions. Once the exercise becomes more endurance-based the body can turn to other sources of fuel, like fat and protein.

What should we do to boost our intake? 
If you feel you need more energy to workout then try eating complex carbs a few hours before exercise. If you miss that slot, then snack on something small and simple carbs-based 20 minutes before you train. 

Protein is the building block for growth and repair, but it can also be used as a source of energy. We need protein all of the time for the constant repair of your body. You should try eating slightly more after a workout so you know your body has enough to grow stronger and reach your goals.

What should we do to boost our intake? 
To boost your intake eat more fish, meat, chicken, or combinations of vegetable-based proteins like beans, pulses, mushrooms and soy products.

Fat is used for energy, but it is responsible for taking up vitamins A,D, E and K too. It insulates the body, protects vital organs and is essential in cell production. It does all of this but still has a bad reputation, and is often missed out when discussing nutrition. 

What should we do to boost our intake? 
Fortunately, most of us eat enough, but good fat sources are important – these include vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil and avocados.

Iron is needed to transport and use oxygen in the blood. Although it’s very important, we don’t need much of it. However, if your iron levels are low, which can be common in women, you may feel tired and be more susceptible to infection. Female athletes are prone to iron imbalances because of menstruation, combined with training hard and eating little meat.

What should we do to boost our intake?
Add more meat, chicken and fish to your diet – for a real boost try eating liver and kidneys too.

Magnesium helps the body use protein in repair, so it plays a key role in muscle recovery –  if your muscles are taking a long time to recover post-workout you could be in need of a boost. It also helps the body to withdraw the energy found in glucose, which means during exercise, it is also important to have good levels of magnesium so your body can pump enough energy into your muscles.

What should we do to boost our intake?
Milk and yoghurt are great sources of magnesium. 

Zinc is essential for the growth and repair or cells in the body, and for that reason it is key for the body post-workout. Individuals who seek to keep their body weight low, including athletes, are more suceptible to deficiencies in zinc, and the body can often run on low levels following long duration, high-intensity workouts, such as HIIT sessions, which can affect your recovery, as well as put you at risk of picking up colds and flus. 

What should we do to boost our intake?
Meat is a great source of zinc – think beef, lamb and pork. But, other great sources can be found in shellfish.

As the name suggests, electrolytes conduct electrical impulses to cause muscle contraction. Your levels will most likely drop during exercise, especially if you’re training in warm conditions where you sweat more, as they are lost in sweat.

What should we do to boost our intake? 
Most electrolytes will be found in a balanced diet. But, if you find yourself sweating excessively during a session, either because of the heat or intensity of your workout, then try replacing them with a simple supplement along with lots of water to rehydrate.

Think you're running low and not sure how to boost your intake? These are the supplements to try

Published in: June 2020

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