Updated: Aug 16, 2019
It's no secret I looooove to post exercise and workout videos on my Instagram feed, and leave my eating habits and lifestyle to my Instagram story. I've developed an extreme passion for growing my body in pursuit of the best version of me, and exercise is an important variable in that process. Plus given that a lot of people come to me with exercise and workout questions, it's a great platform to share my ideas and provide free assistance for as many people as possible.
Honestly, though, the much bigger variable in growing my body is my diet. Over the last few years I have honed in on what works (and more importantly what doesn't work) for my body in terms of growing muscle mass, strength, keeping body fat percentage down, and being at an elite level of fitness to play professional soccer.
There are tons and tons and tons of tips I'll share with you all.
But today I want to explain something that helped me grow, get stronger, gain muscle, AND lose body fat: focusing on my post workout nutrition.
So here we go….
Post workout nutrition is extremely important to focus on no matter where you are on the fitness spectrum. Lose weight, gain weight, build muscle, maintain -- all realms are highly affected by what you put in your body.
Early in my fitness career I didn't pay too much attention to my eating habits. I worked out a lot, trained intensely, and [haphazardly] ate a lot of food…thinking this would make me bigger, faster, and stronger.
I did not quite understand how the body works, so I was leaving a lot of progress on the table. Macro nutrients, micro nutrients, and nutrient timing were things I knew were important, but I never organized and implemented any structure in my routine. So I wasn't maximizing aaaaaaaall of that time I spent training. I had a higher than needed body fat percentage (which I couldn’t get to budge no matter how hard I trained), struggled to gain muscle, and wasn't getting much stronger.
I was doing a couple things wrong:
1. I wasn't including post workout carbohydrates in my regimen…just protein.
2. I wasn't consuming ENOUGH protein, post workout and throughout the day.
So let's talk about number 1……The muscles use glucose (usable energy) and glycogen (stored energy) for fuel during most workouts…especially while lifting weights. At the end of a intense workout, the body has used most of it's stored glycogen. If you're working out intensely multiple times per week (or, like me, multiple times per day), those glycogen stores are constantly on the brink of empty. This often creates a feeling of excess fatigue throughout the day, stunts muscle recovery, and makes the body perform less-efficient processes to replenish energy stores.
So when I would consume only protein immediately after training, a high percentage of it was being broken down veeeeeery slowly (because my body didn't have much energy to break it down, and because that's a difficult process), converted in to glucose, and pushed in to my cells as glycogen. This left not enough protein to build muscles, and my glycogen stores were compromised, thus slowing my recovery process and not allowing my muscles to build as they should.
The fix: add a serving of a QUALITY high glycemic carbohydrate within 20 minutes after working out. Something the body can process quickly. So for a while I drank Gatorade, ate a donut, or had a piece a fruit. But then I learned the sugars in those items aren't ideal for replenishing glycogen storage. Yes, they'll do. But they'll do isn't my standard for myself. Plus all the dyes in Gatorade and high levels of fat in donuts and other pastries made those not ideal choices for my regimen.
Enter 1st Phorm's glycogen replacement product: Ignition. This is my current go-to for my post-workout shake. I've been using it for about 5 months. It's an ideal sugar for glycogen replacement, and isn't filled with a bunch of sh*t ingredients and dyes. I could explain the science on this, but you can find more on their website if you're curious! (https://1stphorm.com/products/post-workout/ignition/ignition)
Now for number 2…..I simply wasn't eating enough protein. Protein is THE building block of muscles. My weight fluctuated and my body fat rose higher as I ate more and more calories. But my muscle mass would not budge until I finally began consuming 1 gram per 1 pound of desired body weight each day. That's it. That's the magic number.
Post workout it's best to consume about 1/3 of your body weight in grams of protein within the first 2 hours. So, for example, I should intake about 60 grams in the first 2 hours after my workout if I weigh 180 lbs). This is best done through combination of whole food and supplementation.
The fix: add more protein to my diet. My favorite sources for protein include chicken, turkey, egg whites, turkey bacon, lean ground beef, Greek yogurt (oikos triple zero vanilla), beans and rice, sprouted grains, and protein powders.
Frankly, though, it's NEARLY impossible to consume 185 grams per day of all-natural sources. Seriously...that's a lot of work for the intestines. So I rely on a whey protein powder for about 60-80 grams per day.
Enter Phormula-1 protein. I've tried just about every protein powder on the market, and this is by far my favorite as far as quality of ingredients, taste, mixability, and how it settles in my stomach (I have IBD, so it's pretty irritable). It's a fast-digesting whey protein that is ideal after a workout due to how fast it can be digested and absorbed. I also use it for afternoon snacks! My current go-to flavors are CTC and Loop D Fruit. But honestly I've tasted most flavors, and you can't wrong!
So my suggestion to everyone: assess your current post-nutrition habits. Are you leaving your body too depleted of energy to grow? Does it have enough protein to build those beautiful muscles?
If you have any questions drop them below!