December 12, 2012 | G.R. Hoff
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Athletes search long and hard to improve their chances of emerging from competition victorious. From intense weight sessions, new speed drills, and conditioning workouts to looking for weaknesses on game film, you come to STACK because you want to get better. When it comes to getting the biggest "bang for your buck" effort-wise, sometimes simplicity is the key. So what's a simple change you can make to maximize your training gains on the field.
Following a hard training session, your body is primed to absorb nutrients (think protein and carbohydrates) to help start the recovery and rebuilding process. First, the body has depleted glycogen stores and is essentially "starving" for good carbohydrates. Second, the body goes into a growth-oriented hormonal state—meaning it is primed to take in protein to start the muscle growing process. Long story short, you maximize your results by eating a perfectly balanced meal following a workout based on these elements. (See A Step-by-Step Guide To Workout Recovery).
Don't waste this opportunity, and don't make the same mistakes some athletes do by eating something nutritionally "worthless"—or by not eating at all. The two major components of your high performance body "super fuel" are:
1. Easily digestible carbohydrates: I recommend dextrose for post-workout shakes (see my favorite post-workout shake recipe here) and sweet potatoes in a real meal post-workout.
2. Lean protein: I prefer whey protein for shakes and chicken breast, chicken tenderloin or lean game meat (like venison) for meals. I avoid fatty cuts of meat post-workout, because of fat's effects on insulin and speed of nutrient absorption.
If you can, I recommend doubling down during this all-important window: have both a nutritionally sound post- workout shake immediately after a workout, and have a later post-workout meal, with healthy whole foods, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour after your session.
Perfect Post-Workout Meal
- Workout shake
- 1 to 1-1/2 large sweet potatoes (no butter, but you can add cinnamon and a dash of coconut or MCT oil)
- Six to 10 ounces of boneless skinless chicken breast or other lean meat of your choice