Protein or Carbs After a Workout?

Separating Fact From Fiction

Protein or Carbs After a Workout?

This might sound a little funny coming from someone who puts fitness information out into the world but there is just too much freaking fitness information out in the world. My clients are constantly baffled by the differing opinions and conflicting studies they hear about, usually in the form of a 50-word blurb that is, at best, watered down and sometimes even misleading.

There is a good rule of thumb that for every study, another study exists finding the exact opposite results. Don’t get too hopped up on one particular study. Use your common sense and, if possible, get the advice of someone who knows that subject area.

Another bit of advice regarding studies... Don’t assume that fitness and nutrition information from the lives of professional athletes and Olympians should be distilled into an action plan for the average 9-to-5 desk jockey or stay-at-home Yummy Mummy.

Prime example: Do you need protein or carbohydrate after your workout?  I talk about this topic several times per week and the answer is not as straight-up as some might have you believe.

If you are training for a specific event or sport, nutrition is a serious matter; you must ensure you get enough protein and carbohydrates following a training session to perform properly at your next session and continue along your training plan. Generally, an athlete (This could be a competitive or amateur athlete – if you’re trying to qualify for the 2014 Olympics, you are definitely in this category... running your first marathon? Yup, also in this category.) will endure longer and more intense training sessions than the average person and will require more fuel to replace what they’ve just used and repair damage. Fuelling improperly or not at all can cause fatigue and delay recovery so that workouts stall or even slide backwards.  Ouch.

So, got a race or competition coming up? Here’s what you need to do.

The general consensus is that a carbohydrate to protein ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 (in grams of carbohydrate versus grams of protein) is best after an intense workout, particularly if the workout included a strong cardiovascular component. So, perhaps a half sandwich with some nitrite-free deli meat... or a bowl of cereal with milk.  On the go, a piece of fruit and handful of nuts or maybe a cup of Greek yogourt.  The combinations are endless. The protein helps repair the muscle damage, building bigger, stronger muscles, and the carbohydrate replenishes the muscles’ and bloodstream’s sugar stores. This meal should be eaten within 30-45 minutes of finishing that workout, during which time the muscles are best able to uptake that carbohydrate and store it (read: it goes in your muscles, not on your ass).

If you are trying to maintain or decrease your weight while gaining strength and/or muscle mass, be sneaky about this post-workout meal and time your workout before a meal you would normally eat... for example, work out at 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and have your lunch (with that 3:1 ratio or 4:1 ratio) around 1:00 p.m. This way you refuel properly without adding an extra meal into your day.

Now, getting back to that athlete vs. average person comparison.  There are times I recommend you don’t fuel after a workout AT ALL... watch for my next blog!


Exercise Options for C-Section Mommies

...and others who need kinder, gentler exercises!

Exercise Options for C-Section Mommies

Last week I posted a 15-minute morning workout designed to tone the entire body and best done before breakfast, to rev your fat burning system and help you work up an appetite!  I received some great responses and I'm so stoked, as always, to imagine you Yummy Mummies using my workout suggestions to get yourselves active & fit!

One comment I received sounded an awful lot like the comments I get from some of our mommies in Belly Bootcamp postnatal fitness classes. 

"Farheenw "asked:

I tried the exercises this morning. They were good but I had a tough time with a few - any recommendations for some more low impact exercises as I had a c-section 3 months ago and wasn't comfortable doing jumping jacks or push-ups...thx!!

Thanks Farheen!  So you had a cesarean section!  Well, so have at least 30% of us, according to statistics. There is plenty you can do and the best way to figure out what works for you is really through trial and error. 

Based on the bodyweight exercises most of us do at home, here are my suggestions for modifying to ease up on a tender midsection after a cesarean birth.  These suggestions are also great for modifying for joint conditions or for making a regular workout routine more pregnancy-friendly or more manageable for those who carry extra weight, are returning from injury or haven't been active in a long time.

Instead of a jumping jack (or other high impact cardio option)...

try jogging on the spot, still arcing your arms up and down as you jog, as you would in a jumping jack - the jogging is lower-impact and also less likely to make you pee your pants if you've got weakened pelvic floor muscles.

If that's still too much, try a light, shallow squat, followed by a high knee, then another squat, followed by the other high knee, etc.

Still too much?  Simply march on the spot with knees as high as possible. Put a little bounce in your step if you can!

Instead of a plank (or crunches, sit ups, & other traditional abdominal exercises)...

Switch to a side plank - on your forearm and knees (or your forearm and toes if the knees is too easy), lift your hips up off the ground and as high as possible as you extend your top arm up in the air.  Hold as you would a regular plank but stop halfway to switch sides.

If that's still too challenging, or to add variety, try a hover plank.  Begin on hands and knees, then back your knees up slightly so they are just behind your hips.  Flip your toes under and lift your knees just an inch off the ground, squeezing your belly up.  Hold as you would a regular plank.

Instead of a push up...

If you can do plank or crunches, your abs can definitely handle push ups - try doing them with your feet on the floor and hands on your dresser, desk, coffee table, etc. This will decrease the amount of weight on the torso and make it easier for your core so you can focus on the upper body work involved in push ups.

If that is still too difficult or you can barely lower yourself and do an effective push up, do a wall push up.  Place hands shoulder-width and shoulder-height on a wall, with feet just a foot or two away.  Rise onto toes and perform push ups against wall.  Wall push ups are actually great for your posture! 




Instead of a jump squat (or other plyometric, high-impact strength move)...

Try a drop squat.  Begin with feet wide, toes turned slightly out. Drop down into the squat quickly and 'catch' yourself at the bottom, ideally with thighs about parallel to the ground.  Be sure to push your bum back and keep your knees behind your toes. Press up through your heels carefully and repeat for desired reps or time.

Try squatting or lunging and adding quarter reps (I describe them here!), or pulses, to increase the difficulty instead of impact.

Please feel free to send me your questions by comment below or through the "Ask an Expert" form right here at YMC!

Share your thoughts - what worked for you after c-section? What didn't?


Fasted Workouts for Fat Loss

A Morning Workout You DO Have Time For

Fasted Workouts for Fat Loss

My eldest, Sweaty Kid, is off to Junior Kindergarten (yikes!) this fall.  I am finally joining the ranks of parents who must juggle the before-school/workday/after-school balance.  Though my job helps me to keep fit, I look around me and see mommies going back to work, kids heading back to school, extracurricular schedules about to be formed and... horror of horrors...

...exercise about to go out the window.

Please, please, please don't stop exercising.  There is nothing better you can do to counteract the stress of the school year than to take care of yourself. 

Lately I've been counseling a few clients whose primary goals include fat loss.  Does this sound like you? One of the strategies I give these clients is to perform a short, moderately paced workout first thing in the morning, of anywhere from 15-45 minutes.  A fasted workout (i.e., on an empty stomach) can help teach the body to draw from its fat stores more efficiently, as well as prolonging your breakfast just slightly and allowing you to work up an appetite.

If you've got just 15-minutes, here is a quick workout you can do in your bedroom or living room, while you keep your eye on the morning TV news and wait for your coffee to brew!  Come on, I know many of you wake up before your kids during the school year. Take 15 minutes for yourself and you will truly start your day off on the right foot!

Perform each of the following exercises for 1 minute, in order, without resting.  Make it more difficult by performing more reps in the minute allotted, and easier by performing fewer reps in the minute allotted:

Minute 1 - march on the spot with knees high, arms pumping

Minute 2 - jumping jacks

Minute 3 - stand with feet together and step right foot out wide, sinking into a squat and reaching hands down to touch the floor.  Press back into middle position, then repeat on left side.  Keep toes and knees pointed slightly outward and push bum well behind you as you squat.

Minute 4 - push up (from knees or toes).

Minute 5 - plank (either a 60-second plank or two 30-second planks).

Minute 6(1) - stand with feet together and step right foot forward into lunge position, sinking into lunge until you can touch the floor beside your right foot with both hands. Press back into starting position, then repeat on left side.  Keep front knee from pushing past front toes.

Minute 6(2) - pike crunch.

Minute 7 - downward dog or forward bend.

Minutes 8 through 14 - repeat as above.

Minute 15 - child's pose or lying on back, knees to chest.

Try doing this workout daily, Monday through Friday, and changing a few exercises every 2-4 weeks.  Choose from the simple at-home exercises listed here on my Fit Family website or add in your own favourites.

Now go drink your coffee! You just worked every major muscle on your body. 

High fives!