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Refueling After Your Workout

We are thrilled to introduce one of our newest contributors to the Cybex blog, Katherine (Kat) Williams. Kat is an IFBB professional athlete, personal trainer at BodySmith Personal Training, and the Recreational Director for the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department. Today, in her first Cybex blog, Kat talks about refueling after your workout.

Source: Flickr (Left, Center, Right)

The Most Important Part of Your Workout

The opportunity for muscle gains starts the moment you stop your workout. However, achieving those gains can't happen without the proper recovery. Muscles don't grow in the gym; they grow after your workout. When you lift heavy, muscles can suffer micro-tears, which need to repair. Immediately after you lift, your body begins those repairs, but it needs your help. If you want to get the most from each and every workout, you need to plan your post-training recovery, just like you plan your gym sessions. It is important to take in protein and simple carbohydrates to start the recovery and muscle growth process.

During a workout, your muscles use a lot of energy. At a certain point, that energy level can get so low that intense exercise can't continue. Put another way, it's as if you are driving your car on a long road trip and the gas tank is nearing empty. In that case, you would hopefully stop quickly and put gas in the car; otherwise, your trip will end prematurely. This is exactly how our bodies work. We need energy to keep moving. After you workout, you still have to make it through the rest of your day and other activities, so restoring energy helps you tremendously. So, how do we do that?

Food to Fuel Recovery

Carbohydrates and protein provide most of the energy needed to increase your training volume. Without them, establishing a high level of intensity can become tough, and you could feel sluggish and even cranky. Post-workout protein is important, especially if you haven't eaten anything for a few hours.

My main goal is to build muscle and lose body fat, so after a workout I take in 20-50 grams of protein for recovery, which roughly equates to a small to medium-sized chicken breast or 1-2.5 scoops of protein powder. Whey protein is the most popular protein powder supplement. It's convenient, easy to mix and offers a rapid absorption rate that's perfect after a tough training session. I also take in 30 grams of carbs 15-20 minutes after my workout, which is the equivalent of about two slices of Ezekiel bread. However, everyone's protein and carb requirements will be different based on the type, duration and intensity of their exercise and their body weight. In general, some good options for carb and protein sources include:

  • Carbs: Sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice and Ezekiel bread.
  • Protein: Eggs, lean ground beef, chicken and whey protein.

Recovery is important in any fitness-related goal. Using some of these tips in your daily recovery plan will help you on your journey of reaching those goals!

NOTE: Cybex is a provider and manufacturer of premium commercial fitness equipment. Content featured in the Cybex Fitness Blog is meant to inspire healthy living and wellness, and should not be taken as medical advice. For medical advice please consult a doctor.

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