There are lots of different motivators when it comes to working out. Some people do it for the endorphin rush they get after they train. Others want to lose weight or tone up.
Whatever your motivation for exercising, the right post-workout nutrition plan will help you to get the best results.
Food for weight loss
If you're looking to lose weight, chances are your trainer or friend has told you to adopt a low calorie diet, have no sugar, give up the fast food and exercise more regularly, right? This seems like a lot to take on and is not easy to stick to.
You are more than likely doing a resistance programme with weights or kettlebells with your trainer to speed up the weight loss.
You are doing this as the more lean muscle that you build in your body, the more bodyfat you will burn during the day and night.
Protein helps to build muscle in the body and so you must have much more in your diet than you would normally have.
A good starting point for females is 20 grams of protein per serving. The most important time to eat for you is not breakfast, but post workout. To help you lose weight, you must have protein within 30-45 minutes of finishing your exercise.
The easiest and quickest way of having your protein requirements is through a protein shake. Don't worry, they won't bulk you up. But they will drastically improve your weight loss. The fastest and easily absorbed protein by the body is whey. Try gluten free Kinetica.
Unfortunately, you must temporarily avoid carbohydrates to burn fat. Don't despair. This will not be forever, but just until you get your body to a level that you are happy with. In the early stages of weight loss definitely no carbs post workout.
Due to the fact that carbs after exercise are out, you must have a vitamin C supplement. Two grams is best and is great after exercise to help you feel fresh and energetic.
Food for toning
For the girls that are already looking lean or are happy with their current shape, then they get to change things up a little.
They too need to be doing resistance training and if they have been doing toning classes with very high reps, then their coach should be telling them to change the reps to less than 10 and lifting slightly heavier, to really tone up their bodies.
Like with the girl who wants to lose weight, you must have protein post workout and preferably within 30-45 minutes post workout.
The only difference is, you get to have carbs - and a lot of carbs at that - with your first meal after exercise. Your body will use the carbs and store them as glycogen (energy) for your next workout.
They will give your body a great look and really help define and curve your muscle tone. You can have up to 100g of carbs each day you train. The ratio of carbs to protein will be 2:1, meaning if you have 20 grams of carbohydrates in a meal, you should have 10 grams of protein.
A great post-exercise food option is oats with some whey protein mixed in. It's easily absorbed by the body after exercise, easy to make and tastes great.
The days you're not training however, don't have any. You don't need them. Opt for higher good fats, such as fish oils, Udo's Choice oil, avocados and nuts.
food for the marathoner
Obviously, in this case, your goals are not to lose weight but to prepare for your event.
Getting the right nutritional plan is a must if you are to complete this run. You will need to have the right nutrition for directly after your preparation runs and for after the big race itself.
You will also need to eat alkalising foods throughout the day to reduce the level of acidity in your body brought on by a build up of lactic acid (that sore feeling in your legs) from your run.
Straight after you train, the best ratio for carbs to protein is 2:1. The reason for this is to enhance your performance in the run and to aid in the recovery after the long hard training session.
You must replace glycogen (the energy that your muscles use when you're tired and needing that extra boost). The reason for this is to make sure you have enough energy for your next training run or on race day.
When you go for your run, you sweat and with it you lose vital minerals your body needs, so it's important to get them back into your system as soon as you can.
This is done with lots of fluids and electrolytes. Lucozade sport is ok for race day but not for everyday use as it has sweeteners and other bad ingredients.
A great option post run would be alkalising foods such as grapes, kiwis and apricots or (my favourite) supergreens with a little apple juice.
These will be easily absorbed by the body and will stop the acidity build-up from the race, which leaves your legs feeling tired and sore like you've just walked home in your heels after a night out with the girls. You will also need protein to help repair your muscles after your training or race, so a whey protein drink would be ideal.
For the rest of the day, it's important to drink lots of fluids. Your body will have lost a lot post run, so you will be dehydrated. The more dehydrated your body is, the more damage will be done so drink lots of water. You must eat lots of alkalising foods so lots of raisons, blackcurrants, kiwis, spinach, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and carrots.
Aim for about 1.6-1.8g of protein per kilo of bodyweight to repair your muscle for the next day's run. In other words, if you weigh 57kg then you would need to be consuming 91 grams of protein per day. Keep in mind that your average chicken breast is 25g of protein so there is no worry about eating too much.
When you run, your joints become inflamed so it's extremely important you do all you can to bring down this inflammation if you're going to be able to run the next day. Omega 3 fats are great for this.
Fats from fish avocados and nuts are rich in omega 3 which will help with the inflammation and bring it down.
So whether your goal is to fit into a dress you haven't worn in years, look good for your next holiday or complete the marathon, the right nutrition is key. Train hard and enjoy each session and think of each clean meal you have like a stepping stone to achieving your dreams and goals.
Vinny Gough is the owner and head coach at Changing Rooms Personal Training'on Leeson Street; www.changingrooms.ie; www.vinnygough.com