Do you know what to eat before and after your workout? This is a popular question from people just starting out in their fitness journey. Getting your diet on point is a science and any custom to you plans should be created by a registered dietician/nutritionist (remember that!) but there are some general tips and tricks I can share with you to get you started!
What To Eat:
Before – Carbs! Carbs are your friends. I know you’ve heard that carbs are bad and should be avoided if you want to lose weight but I promise, you want a little carbs in your life. Carbs = ENERGY. Good carbs (whole grains/wheats, fruits) turn into the energy your muscles need to push you through a killer workout. You should eat a little something 30-90 minutes before you workout like toast with PB and banana, some oatmeal with berries, crackers or rice cakes.
After – Protein! Protein is what is going to help your muscles repair themselves and grow. When you workout (especially strength train) you make tiny tears in your muscles. Protein helps repair these tears. The sooner you get in some protein after your workout, the better! Some ideas of good protein sources are protein shakes or bars (be really careful they aren’t full of sugar!), lean meats like chicken or fish, eggs, or Greek yogurt.
There ya go! A quick reminder of what to eat before and after your workout. Carbs = Energy, Protein = Repair. Energy before, repair after.
DOMS, or delayed onset of muscle soreness, is that pain you feel in your muscles 24-72 hours after a workout. It’s thought to be caused by the micro-tears in the muscle which in turn make the muscle bigger and stronger and the soreness is a side effect of the repairing process.
The soreness (DOMS) is not caused by excess Lactic Acid. That’s a myth. What does seem to cause this soreness is any exercise/muscle stress that is outside of your normal activity range. Even super fit people can get DOMS if they go beyond how they are used to training. Eventually your body will adapt to the stress you’re putting on it which means these exercises will cause less soreness. Eccentric movements seem to cause the most DOMS. That is when the muscle is lengthened under tension (like lowering the weight during a bicep curl)…so, longer, more emphasized eccentric phase may cause more DOMS.
Pain = A great workout! Not really. It is definitely possible to get in a great workout without being unable to sit on the toilet the next day. Don’t let DOMS gauge how well your workout went.
Avoiding the soreness isn’t always possible, especially when starting a new program. You can lessen the effects some by slowly progressing through your program. Don’t go to big and too heavy before your muscles have had a chance to adapt a bit to the work you’re putting on them. Always give your muscles time to recover between workouts to avoid doing any serious damage to them. Also, make sure you’re doing a dynamic warm up before your workout (think movements to warm the muscles up to what they will be doing next, no holding stretches on cold muscles) and save the static stretching for afterwards where you will hold those stretches for at least 30 seconds to give the muscles time to ‘let go’ and allow to be stretched.
There are some things you can do that are thought to ease DOMS symptoms. Reviews seemed to be pretty mixed though so you can try them out and see if they work for you or not at your own risk. Things like alternating ice and heat, massage or foam rolling, epsom salt soaks, and anti-inflammatories all have been said to help reduce DOMS.
I originally posted a pumpkin protein shake recipe on my personal blog in 2011. This is another version I decided to try.
Sometimes we go to the gym later and when I’m done it’s almost lunch time. On days like that I like to make some kind of meal shake. There’s a little shop in town that sells blended Herbalife shakes in about a million different flavors. Unless I start making good money to fund my addiction to them I need to make my own. Also, the majority of theirs use soy protein which I’ve been trying to avoid. So, I found some similar shake recipes online and saw they use a tablespoon of instant pudding mix. Um, yes please?! I’ve been making some shakes with Mounds pudding mix but changed it up with this one and busted out the cheesecake. OMG.
I’m not really sure the nutrition content in this. If you want to know you can plug it all in somewhere. I figured its going to be meal sized calories since I kind of just tossed ALL THE THINGS in the blender and turned it on.
Toss all of this in a blender until it looks like a hot mess-
1 sc vanilla whey protein powder
1 sc vanilla meal shake powder (I use Nature’s Bounty but realized it has soy along with whey. I just cant win. I’ll just stick with the regular protein powder.)
1 tbs ground flax
1 tbs chia seeds
1 tbs instant cheesecake pudding mix
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
A couple shakes pumpkin pie spice
2 big handfuls spinach (I keep a bag in the freezer for this)
1 cup reduced fat milk (I’d usually use almond if I had it. But I don’t.)
Blend all that goodness together. It was really tasty! When I made this one there was all the talk of pumpkin spice lattes floating around the internets…I needed something fall-y that wasn’t going to make me sweaty (because Alabama fall is still summer).