Post-workout recovery meals

mmm... sweet potatoes

mmm... sweet potatoes

So we’ve been doing this Paleo diet thing, and mixing with CrossFit, and if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve seen some reports of feeling a little weaker at first.  There are a number of factors that dictate how bad you feel during/after a workout, especially when you’re drastically changing the way you eat.  One of the ways to help this is to make sure you’re recovering.  So today, I’m going to talk about the post-workout meal.  First of all, I’m not Robb Wolf or Mark Sisson.  So one thing you could do is just skip my summarization of the whole thing and go straight to the source.

Robb’s post on post-workout nutrition

Mark’s post on post-workout fasting

The post-workout meal is important for everyone, regardless of whether you’re an athlete or just trying to lean out.  There are several strategies to this, and you’ve got to pick one that works best for you.

In general:

  • Try to stick to lower carb post-workout meals, but you need to scale the carb intake to the intensity of the workout.  So if your workout was a super high metcon workout, then get more carbs than you normally would.  Check out this blog post from OPT on one recommendation for matching the post-workout meal with your body fat measurement.
  • If you’ve got a high activity level… like you’re training for an event or you’re a multisport athlete and you train more than once a day, it’s probably best to make sure you get some carbs post-workout, especially on days where the workout was particularly intense, or you’re doing more than one.  It’s hard to say this is a “high carb” meal, but this meal in particular can be used to deliver protein and carbs to refuel your muscles with a blunted insulin response, if done basically immediately after your workout. Folks on the Zone who have trouble consuming enough carbs throughout the day can use this strategy effectively with a higher carb food, like sweet potatoes.
  • Another option is to simply not eat.  Mark Sisson has a post about fasting for a couple hours post-workout to maximize gene expression.

This post is a huge simplification of what to do with your meal post-workout; it’s meant to be taken as a series of guidelines.  What works for you is going to be different and may very well end up being a combination of things.

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2 Responses to “Post-workout recovery meals”

  1. I improvised this today after an hour Jiu-Jitsu session. I normally eat EXTREMELY low-carb (potatoes/yams have not been a part of my diet for a while).

    I’ve decided to do some n=1 experimentation and to not be dogmatic about things. If something may have a benefit, why not?

    2 sweet potatoes
    1/2 can coconut cream
    1/2tsp cinnamon

    Poke the ‘taters full of holes and nuke for 15 minutes
    Peel off the skin and mash
    gently combine the coconut cream and sprinkle all over with cinnamon

    The coconut cream probably lowers the Glycemic Index quite a bit. Cinnamon is rumored to raise insulin sensitivity. I’m not sure of the impact of post-workout nutrition of those things, but it sure tastes great!

    I use coconut cream, not milk. This is a personal preference as coconut cream is actually cheaper per can at HEB than coconut milk, and the only difference is the % of water so far as I can tell. This is not “cream of coconut”, which is sweetened.

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  1. Quick Review: Bluebonnet Whey Protein | The Label Says Paleo - 31. Dec, 2009

    [...] my quest to make a better post-workout meal, I needed some whey protein to mix into my sweet potatoes (at the moment, sweet potatoes are the [...]

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