Whatever your goals may be (lose fat, add muscle, etc), one thing I’ve found lacking in many people new to weight lifting’s plan is their post-workout nutrition. Sadly, it seems that many young women have come to equate starving yourself with being healthy.
That could not be further from the truth!
Your body not only craves but NEEDS food, most importantly protein following a workout with weights. While you are cranking out those reps and lifting those dumbbells, you create a great strain on your muscles, and your rest period is when your body goes to work repairing them and building them back stronger. Like any lean mean machine, your body needs fuel to accomplish these things, so if you’re starving yourself not only are you making yourself miserable, you’re depriving yourself of all those hard fought gains you’ve spent so much time in the gym working for!
Simply put: following a workout, get some nutrition in you as soon as possible.
Aim for a post workout meal rich in protein and carbohydrates but low in fat
Sounds simple enough, right? Here’s a little explanation as to why:
Protein: The building blocks of muscle. During a workout, muscle protein is broken down by exercise, so a large amount is needed afterwards to begin repair. Muscle building, or protein synthesis, has been shown due to decrease immediately after workout while the rate of protein breakdown increases. A quick infusion of protein will reverse this trend and get your body heading in the right direction. About 30g is plenty for most women.
Carbohydrates: A quick intake of simple carbs following a workout has also been shown to increase muscle building. Aim for 0.8 to 1.2 grams of carbs per kg of bodyweight. Any higher will be likely be stored as fat.
Fat: While dietary fat is often neglected in most lifters’ diets, post-workout is one time where you’re okay leaving it out of the mix. Fat slows things down as they work through your stomach, which will keep your body from getting those simple carbohydrates and protein its craving.
Do your best to get your post workout meal or protein shake in within an hour of finishing up.
Not only do you look, feel, and even sleep better, you get to eat more too!
In fact, that’s one of the things that drew me away from strictly being a cardio girl into lifting weights with some running, elliptical, other things thrown in kinda girl. You see, lifting weights not only has the magical power to tone up your arms and legs, give you a strong flat stomach, and just make an all-around better you… it also increases your daily metabolic rate, meaning you can eat more without gaining a pound!
It is important to keep mindful of how your post workout meal and/or shake fits into your daily calorie goal and macronutrient breakdown. Don’t neglect these when tallying up your totals for the day.
If you’d like to keep things simple check out the whey protein section at Amazon, they consistently have the best prices and availability. I like the Optimum Nutrition products but they can be a bit pricey.