Post Workout Recovery

I want to share my tips for post workout recovery. Maybe you’ve heard of post workout meal, referring to the meal, snack or shake you consume after working out to help muscle repair. A post workout recovery is more than just the meal; there are several steps in the process including eating properly, replacing fluids, stretching, and resting. Here are a few tips based on what I do.

 

REFUEL: Immediately after I’ve finished my strength training exercises, I like to start drinking a protein shake that I’ve prepared in advance of my workout. I normally like to shoot for at least 25 grams of protein in this shake and I use a protein that is quickly absorbed such a whey or soy. OR if I’m working out close to my bed time, I’ll use a medium absorbing protein that gives me immediate muscle repair benefits plus recovery all night. Read more in Protein Powders: A Quick Overview. I try to “down” the protein shake in about 5 minutes since our muscles absorb the most protein within about 20 minutes post workout. NOTE: If you aren’t getting any protein after an intense work out, you are doing more damage than good to your body for the most part. In order to build muscle, you have to do resistance training, which breaks down muscle. After your work out, your body immediately goes to work rebuilding the broken down muscle and it uses the energy source that is most available. So by not providing your body with the energy it needs to recover, it will actually start breaking down existing muscle to try to repair the damage. Talk about a lose, lose situation!

 

HYDRATION: I follow the protein shake with hydration. Water or Gatorade are what I use, but not the sugar-free Gatorade, just the regular stuff. The hydration part can take more time, no need to chug like I do with the protein shake.

 

COOL DOWN: At the same time that I’ve started chugging my shake, I like to do light cardio. I just get on the treadmill and do slow to medium paced walking, 3 mph or less, to help my body cool down. The light cardio or cool down can last anywhere from 10-20 minutes, it really depends on how I’m feeling and where I’m at with my 10,000 steps goal for the day. The purpose of walking is also to help prevent the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles and it helps avoid muscle pain the next day after a strenuous workout.

 

STRETCHING: After the cardio is the stretching. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t save all my stretching for post workout. I do light stretching throughout my strength training, between most reps, especially when I’m working my legs. This helps me to help avoid muscle cramps or pain later on. Stretching after a workout is very beneficial though and it’s much safer than stretching before a workout when your muscles are cold.

 

REST: One of the most important things you can do for overall health and beauty is to get enough sleep. Six hours is the minimum recommended; much less than 6 hours is not sufficient time for your body to repair itself. Eight hours is the average recommended amount for most adult women; much more than eight hours will likely make you sluggish and more tired. I generally aim for 7 hours of sleep, sometimes I get a little extra, sometimes I get a little less but as long as I’m close to that I’m in a good place.

 

There are various supplements that I would like to add to my post workout recovery routine. The supplements I’m looking at are designed to increase post workout recovery benefits and avoid muscle soreness so I’ll update this once I get started on those.

 

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Protein Powders: A Quick Overview

For a long time, I didn’t know that there are different types of protein powder that should be used in different ways. The rate at which our bodies absorb protein varies, depending on the type of protein. There are “slow” absorbing proteins  (casein) and “quick” absorbing proteins (whey and soy) and then there are blends of the two, making a formula that is absorbed at a “medium” pace. So how do you know when to use what??? Well without going into all the science behind this, most of us are using protein powder as either a meal replacement or as a post work out recovery. If you’re having a protein shake as a meal  replacement, a medium protein blend should be fine. If you’re using protein powder as a post workout recovery, you are going to want the faster absorbing protein because your muscles need energy that can be quickly absorbed to start repairing muscle tissue. If you’re interested in what I’m doing, I recently added a protein powder to my routine that I use for my post workout recovery PLUS recovery for overnight. I typically do my work out in the evenings, I start about 2 -3 hours before bed. I prepare my protein shake before I hit the gym, 1. because I like it to chill in the fridge for a bit, and 2. I’m usually too tired and not motivated after working out to do much other than relax so it’s nice to have the shake waiting for me when I get home. The protein I’m using is a medium release. I want my muscles to use the energy from my protein shake right away to recover from my work out, but I also want them to continue to rebuild all night long so that’s why I chose the medium. The other thing is, I get up pretty early, around 5:30 am,  but I don’t actually put any food into my stomach until about 7am. Having a protein shake before bed is gives me more energy in the morning and helps to avoid hunger while I’m doing light activity (taking my dog out and walking around as I get ready for work) until I eat an actual breakfast. If I wasn’t working out in the evenings, I would probably use a slow release protein before bed, but again, I’m currently using a medium protein because of my routine of working out shortly before bed.

Supplements: A Few Recommendations for the Active Woman

If you are actively working out or you are getting ready to start working out, you should consider taking various supplements to boost your performance and protect your body from injury. Here are a few supplements I strongly recommend to prevent joint pain and inflammation.

Glucosamine Sulfate (Glucosamine): Many times, joint pain, especially in the knees or elbows is due to the cartilage being worn away, and this problem can be significantly improved if not eliminated by adding 1.5 – 2 g of Glucosamine to your diet. The glucosamine will boost the production of synovial fluid (the fluid that lubricates the joints) and helps to regenerate cartilage.

You can take a glucosamine supplement in the form of a pill, but note that in order to get at least 1.5 g, you will usually have to take several pills per day so read the label on the bottle carefully to see how many pills are in a serving. I recently started taking a liquid supplement with 2 g of glucosamine (as well as Chondroitin and MSM) and I love it! The brand I’m trying is Wellesse Glucosamine Joint Movement (you can also buy this at Costco) and I take the recommended dose of 1 ounce in the morning on an empty stomach. Liquid is also more easily and more completely absorbed by the body than supplements in a pill form so that’s another reason I am loving this product (think more for your money!).

Chondroitin Sulfate (Chondroitin): similar to Glucosamine, Chondroitin is an important supplement for rebuilding cartilage as well as reducing inflammation. It’s usually paired with Glucosamine (such as in the above product I recommended) because they have a “synergistic” effect, meaning they work together. The recommended dose is 1 – 1.5 g per day.

*I found that the combination of Glucosamine and Chondroitin stopped my “clicking” ankles in a matter of days. I don’t know about you but I like to be able to walk around without going *snap -crackle-pop!*

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): MSM is a sulfur containing compound and is naturally present in the body. Supplementing MSM improves blood flow and decreases inflammation. The recommended daily dose for MSM varies but I get 500 mg from the Wellesse Glucosamine Joint Movement and then I take an additional 1000 mg before bed. The additional MSM I purchase from GNC.

*I started taking MSM because I learned that this supplement helps nail and hair growth. At the time, I was experiencing frequent pain in my left wrist and within days of taking 1 – 2 g of MSM (for my hair and nails), my wrist pain was gone!

Taking the above supplements and the recommended doses should help if you are experiencing joint pain or inflammation, but keep in mind the amount of time it takes to experience relief can vary from person to person. I noticed relief right away from my clicking joints and wrist pain but don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel like you have the same results right away; it may take a couple months for the supplements to go into full effect.

Maintaining Muscle: Advice for Women

 

woman flexing bicep

Believe it or not, women start losing muscle mass as early as their twenties. By age 30, the average woman will lose 3-5% of her muscle over the next decade. Why should you as a woman be concerned about this? Well, Muscle is important for a lot of reason such as a fast metabolism, controlling weight gain, as well as power, endurance and strength to perform our daily activities. Additionally, muscle helps keep us looking toned, shapely and beautiful. If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re only doing cardio and you’re not doing anything that works the major muscles of your body, then your workouts are not going to be nearly as effective in terms of your weight loss goal. You HAVE to add some sort of strength training to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more your body needs to use calories to feed your muscle, so even while you are at a resting state or sleeping, you will be burning calories! If you’re not trying to lose weight, you still need to build muscle or at least maintain muscle if you want to avoid a resting metabolism, bone deterioration, insulin resistance, and other health factors that are linked to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

I think many women are apprehensive about “building muscle” for fear of turning into the Hulk! The reality is that, unless you are lifting weights for hours a day and consuming massive amounts of protein, as a woman, you will not get bulky like a man does. Men naturally have a higher muscle content, plus testosterone and even still, they have to work out for years to look like “The Rock.” So stop imagining yourself bulking up and start thinking about building muscle in order to maintain overall health and beauty.

Resistance training a few times a week in combination with a healthy diet can make a huge difference in women that are starting to lose muscle mass or that are trying to prevent muscle loss. Additionally, getting enough protein in your diet is essential to preventing muscle loss. On average, a woman should consume an average of .75 g – 1 g of protein per pound of her bodyweight per day (for a very overweight woman, the number of grams of protein should be measured by her ideal weight, not her current weight). So in other words, for myself personally, my weight it usually around 125 lbs, so I need to consume anywhere from 100-125 grams of protein per day, just to maintain my current muscle. Generally if I consume less than 100 grams of protein, I’m starving by the end of the day! Even on a day that I don’t exercise, my body still burns a significant amount of calories because I’m fairly toned and I need to eat about 100 grams, just to avoid hunger. On days where I’m working out, I need to eat 125 grams or more of protein. Where do I get that much protein in a day? There are numerous sources of protein that you can include in your diet. I will get into sources of protein more in another post. The most important things I hope you can away from this are that 1. you need to maintain muscle in order to maintain overall health, and 2. the ways you maintain muscle are through strength training (resistance training) and consuming enough protein on a daily basis.