The smart post-gym diet guide

Jun 25, 2013, 02:00 IST | Hassan M Kamal

The overall result of a fitness regime depends on your post-workout diet. The Guide spoke to fitness trainers on how to eat smart post your routine in the gym for the right results to show

Do you wonder at times as to why despite serious workouts at the gym, you’re unable to see good results? Or why the diet plan used by your gym buddy has worked wonders on him while you are struggling?

Chances are it could well be the diet that you follow. One of the most common mistakes that people following a fitness regime make is not supplementing the rigorous training with a diet that could work for them, and not to blindly follow one that might work for others.

Post-workout diet is important
Research shows that while toiling hard in a gym -- from one set to another, and one muscle to the other -- your body not only loses a lot of energy and essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals, but a lot of wear and tear happens to the muscles. “To carry out all the necessary repair and build muscles, your body needs the right amount of protein and carbohydrates at the right time,” informs Sanjeev Chadha, fitness expert and three-times winner of the Mr India title.

Chadha who recently opened The Red Gym in Khar adds, “If you want good results, a good workout should always be backed by a good diet.” Your body also loses glycogen stored during heavy workouts, and if not replaced in time, it could lead to extreme fatigue to a point that it is difficult to move. Now you know, why some people are unable to walk after workout.

What’s on your plate?
The general thumb rule is to back a good workout with a good diet, but care should be taken while selecting the source for supplementing the energy and nutrient needs of your body. The type of food you eat depends a lot on what you plan to achieve from your work out or training.

“If the aim is to lose weight, your diet should be high on protein, but if you wish to gain weight, it should be high on carbohydrates,” reasons Chadha, adding that after workout one should have a solid meal loaded with a lot of good carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes, oats, and high sources of proteins like eggs, fish, chicken, and protein shakes.

“Fish is not only the most easily digestible protein source, but also provides essential fatty acids. Vegetarians could have paneer, tofu and legumes. You can also eat a banana because it’s a fast-acting carb that can help you restore your glycogen levels,” adds Chadha.

Those who can’t avoid eating outside should try salads without dressings, chicken or non-fatty white fish, boiled vegetables without butter, tandoori chicken, soups and greens.

Right quantity at the right time
Celebrity fitness trainer, Praveen Tokas says that intake of the right amount of carbohydrates and protein and at the optimal time after exercise can help assure that you get the most out of your workout. “For intense workouts, ingest a beverage or a meal containing 1.2-1.5 grams of carbohydrate plus 0.4-0.6 grams protein per kg of body weight immediately after exercise and again about two hours later.

For workouts that are less intense or of a short duration, a good routine is to replace about 50% of the calories spent during workout with a carbohydrate and protein supplement,” he says. One of the most common mistakes that people make on post-workout nutrition is that they take too much time to drink that post-work protein shake. “The human body’s nutrition absorption falls dramatically after 30 minutes (anabolic window) post-workout/training. So it’s important to eat within the 30-minute window for better absorption, recovery, muscle development and fat loss,” advises Tokas .

Apart from protein, the body also needs Vitamin C for better recovery, post workout, says Chadha. “Vitamin C helps to clear cortisol (stress hormone) and promote faster recovery. One should have at least one gram of Vitamin C, everyday. red bell pepper and orange is a good source of Vitamin C, or you can also take a Vitamin C tablet,” he adds.

What to avoid?
>> High sugar energy bars, fruit drinks, soda and coffee: After a workout, sugar from soft drinks and fructose from fruit juice slows down your metabolic rate. All the energy that was built up by exercise is reversed when your body takes in all of it. Read the labels carefully before selecting fruit drinks.

>>Too many fats: Fatty snacks and mini-meals such as French Fries or oily pizza or fast-food subs and burgers

>> Salty snacks: Excess of salt will drive down your levels of potassium

>> Whey protein with chemical sweeteners like aspartame, dyes or artificial flavouring

>> Sports drinks: If you work out for more than 90 minutes, or exercise in hot, humid conditions, reaching for a sports drink rather than plain water is a smart way to keep hydrated and stay fuelled as well as replace electrolytes lost in sweat, but if you’re exercising for less than an hour and a half, in a climate-controlled gym, plain water should be fine. -- Praveen Tokas 

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