When it comes to working out, most people are motivated by two common goals, which are either muscle gain or fat loss. Walking into any exercise facility or gym, and there are numerous machines with different goals in mind. The most popular are the treadmills, stair climbers, and spin bikes. These are typically used by people that want to lose weight. The other most popular pieces of equipment are the weight machines. These include free weights such as the bench press and barbells. Then there are dumbells and machines that are used to increase muscle mass. Whether one is using cardio machines or equipment to increase muscle mass, the human body needs proper nutrition in order to recovery from exercise. The type of exercise does not matter because exercise in itself will bring the body into a catabolic state or muscle wasting state. Catabolic hormones are potent and are released when the body is under stress. Catabolic hormones will reduce muscle mass and increase body fat. Proper nutrition will minimize and reduce catabolic hormones. Getting the right nutrients and high-quality foods consumed pre or post-training will help support a decrease in catabolic hormones and an increase in anabolic (muscle building) hormones.

Timing Of Food Intake For Maximum Benefit

Depending on what one’s goals are, the timing of food is essential. If the goal is body fat reduction, consuming food post-workout would be recommended. Consuming food post-workout will give the body carbohydrates for glycogen replenishment. It will tell one’s body that it is getting fed nutrients to help with energy. The body’s primary concern is survival, so it will always turn to carbohydrates for quick energy. If a person wishes to lose body fat and they consume food and calories pre-training, it will not give the body a chance to tap into its fat stores. Typically, intermittent fasting is a very easy way to reduce body fat. Exercising in a fasted state will help reduce body fat and support an increase in growth hormone, which will also help reduce body fat. Therefore consuming calories pre-workout is not recommended.

If one’s goal is to increase muscle mass, than pre-training or post-training is food consumption is the recommendation. High protein foods such as chicken, eggs, fish, and beef are great sources of protein and amino acids. The essential amino acids in the meat and eggs will provide the body nutrients to increase muscle protein synthesis. Combining exercise and high protein foods increase muscle protein synthesis better than exercise alone.

The Best Foods For Exercise Recovery

1)  Chocolate milk. Believe it or not, but chocolate milk is one of the best foods one can consume for post-workout recovery. It contains all the nutrients needed for recovery, which are protein, carbohydrates, antioxidants, and electrolytes. Chocolate is known as the “poor man’s” post-workout. Many NCAA athletes use chocolate milk because of its accessibility and strict regulations that the athletes must adhere to. The down side of chocolate milk is the high sugar content, so it is not recommended for people wanting to lose weight.

2)  Nut Milk. Nut milk is great because it contains protein and carbohydrates. It will typically be lower in sugar and have naturally occurring nutrients. Almond milk, cashew milk, and even banana milk are great choices

3)  Meat & Vegetables. A meal that contains natural organic meats and vegetables is the perfect post-training meal for exercise recovery. This type of meal will have a minimum impact on insulin levels, which is crucial for fat loss. Meals higher in sugar will spike one’s insulin levels, making it harder to decrease body fat. Meals containing no sugar and carbohydrates from sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and carrots is the best choice.

Choosing The Best Protein Source

Choosing the best protein source is essential for recovery. The quality of a protein source is scientifically determined by a measurement called the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAA). Milk protein isolate ranks the highest, following by whey protein isolate, whole egg, and whey protein concentrate. One would want to use these types of unflavored protein powders pre or post-training. Each one of these protein sources provides the body with highly usable amino acids that will help increase muscle protein synthesis. Try to consume them with low glycemic carbohydrates like vegetables and grains.

Food NOT to consume

Here is a list of foods that are not recommended.

1) Soy protein. May increase estrogen

2) Caffeine. Increase cortisol

3) Nitrates.

4) Artificial sweeteners and colors

5) Highly processed carbs such as maltodextrin, fructose, and dextrose

6) Energy drinks

7) Free form amino acid supplements

In conclusion, choosing the right food and timing of those foods will help one reach their goals faster. Simply eating the right foods at the correct time can make all the difference.

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