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What I Eat Post-Workout

This is a question I get asked quite a bit. What do you eat after you workout? Or more than that, what protein powder do you use?

If you are asking the same question, most likely you consider yourself an athlete or work out at high intensity (Crossfit, HIIT, Tabatas, Sprinting, P90X etc.) If you don’t, and you do lower intesntiy workouts like walking, casual jogging, golf, or cycling, you still will need protein after your workout to help you recover faster and more effectively but you probably don’t need to load up on starches like those working out at high intesity. These types of exercise burn more fat than carbohydrate so it just wouldn’t be smart to overload when you most likely have plenty of glycogen stores already. Excess is just turned into fat.

Before I get into what types of protein and starches I recommend eating post-workout, let me clarify one more thing. If you fall into the high intensity workout group but are also overweight, have metabolic issues, and are simply trying to get your health back on track, eating carbohydrates may not be the best idea for you at this point. You definitely still need protein to start the recovery process, but consuming a large amount of carbs in one sitting is never a good idea if you are insulin resistant (aka. your body is not responding to insulin very well anymore, the hormone that pulls sugar out of the blood, due to too much sugar and starches in your diet). Your health takes priority over fueling your athletic performance in this case. Once you get your health back on track, you can think about fueling your athletic performance with more starches.

So what do I eat post-workout?

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Pretty consistenly I eat 2 hardboiled eggs, with some homemade sweet potato fries (approximately 1/2 a sweet potato), within 15-30 minutes right after I workout.

This is the perfect combination of an easy to digest whole foods protein and a carb-dense starchy vegetable.

This works out perfect for me since I workout in the morning. I typically hardboil my eggs on Sunday nights and bake up a big batch of sweet potato fries to take with me to the gym also.

Other great carb-dense veggies include: butternut sqash, acorn squash, beets, pumpkin, spaghetti squash or plantains

You can mix and match these with any protein source you choose. Some other good examples include salmon and butternut squash, or grass-fed meatballs over baked spaghetti squash, or boiled pumpkin with eggs.

What about Protein Powder?

I’m not going to say I never use this, but for the majority of time I try to eat whole foods post-workout and always for that matter. Protein powder is a supplement, not a whole food.

Unless you buy the super pricey, grass-fed, undenatured, processed at low temperature protein powders you are wasting your money. Even then, it is still a processed food. Most protein powders are processed at such high heat that it denatures the protein content to an extent that may increase its carcinogenic load. Many proteins are sold off of marketing tools that get you to believe that you NEED it  for muscle building, fat loss, recovery, energy, etc.!! My advice on that: don’t eat foods that need advertising to be sold. Most of the time they are in it to make money, not to better your health.

Protein powder has not been around forever either.  You never would have seen a caveman whip out his shaker and pour some protein powder into it after he did what he would consider high intense activity. No, he just ate real food, what we were designed to eat also! Protein powder is simply convenience and marketing.

Your body and your wallet will thank you for switching to just chewing your foods post-workout.  Eggs are one of the cheapest sources of protein and you can’t complain about inconvenience when you prep ahead of time like I do!

So what about Smoothies Post-Workout?

Two reasons I don’t suggest smoothies post-workout.

1. Fruit is made of of chains of fructose compared to starchy veggies which are made up of chains of glucose. Fructose is preferentially broken down and used by the liver, not the muscles. Glucose from starchy veggies is more efficient at replacing glycogen that your muscles have used up during exercise. Fruit is not bad, but post-workout it is not your best option.

2.  Liquified fruit will spike your blood sugar levels much quicker than it would in whole food form. This is the last thing you want to do if your trying to balance your hormones and especially if you currently have metabolic issues. If your goal is to be healthy, we want to maintain a steady blood sugar level and eating protein combined with a starchy veggie is a much better way to do this.  Use these more as a special treat if you want to enjoy them every now and then, not as your post-workout fuel or even as a meal replacement.

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So bottom line, eat whole foods. Not supplements. This is the what we were designed to eat. If you insist on buying protein powders or other workout supplements, ask yourself why you think you need it. Is it because of what they promise you will receive from their product? Is it because of convenience? Whole foods have everything we need and more to fuel our bodies, and if you plan ahead, convenience shouldn’t be an issue.

Even further than eating just whole foods it is important that we eat foods that keep our bodies chemically balanced. If you’d like to know more about this check out this great article posted by Slanker’s Grass-Fed Meats.

Hope this helps! Comment on what your favorite post-workout whole foods combo’s are!


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