1/17/15

Maximize recovery with two mini meals


Do you ever find yourself having a fantastic carb-rich meal post workout but then (for whatever reason), hours go by without eating and then you are starving around 4 or 5pm?
Do you find that it is hard to understand how to eat throughout the day when most of your morning is spent working out and your first real "meal" comes around 11 or 12pm but you have dinner plans (with family/friends) around 6 or 7pm? Should you eat a snack, should you not eat, can you afford to eat another meal?
Are you constantly hungry all day post workout?
Is your post workout meal so filling that you don't have an appetite until 7 hours later?
Do you feel like you need to make more of an effort to eat better post long workout but life just gets in your way?

Mini meals
An effect way to maximize glycogen repletion post long workout (and to increase the chance of faster recovery before your next workout the following day) is to focus on eating two mini meals within ~4 hours post workout. 

This may not be easy in all situations but it is important to understand that if you are asking your body to train for several continuous hours in order to improve fitness, you have to do your best to prioritize your eating in the 24 hours post workout to ensure that your body recovers well and adapts to the training stress. 

This tip is especially helpful for athletes who really struggle with portions post workout or eat too much all at once (or too little) on long workout days . If you allow yourself two small meals post workout (don't see this as meal and then snack) as oppose to one large meal post workout, not only will digestion be easier but another eating opportunity is a great way to increase the nutrient density in your diet. 

As much as I love my veggies, having a salad at noon after a 4 hour ride is just not my idea of effective post-workout refueling. I'd much rather see athletes consume a hearty salad at 7pm after you have done a good job of refueling and repairing with several carb-protein eating opportunities throughout the day. 

If your workout is 3+ hours, consider having a substantial carbohydrate rich post workout meal (~50-90g carbs) with protein (~20-30g) after your recovery drink and then another "meal" 2-3 hours later of similar macronutrient composition.
From your post workout food choices, you are also reducing inflammation and oxidative stress so any time you think twice "am I eating too much?" just remember that you are doing your body a service by prioritizing nutrients that will keep your immune system and body healthy.

After all that recovering eating is complete come 5,6 or 7pm, finish your day with a healthy evening meal that balances out your previous food choices. 

If you constantly find yourself eating two large meals (post workout at 10 or 11am and then your "dinner" meal 7+ hours later) on your long workout days, you will find that this tip is super effective to help you control your portions and the chance of over-indulging in the evening (which will also help you recover faster and feel better for the next day's workout). 

If you find yourself finishing your long workout around 10 or 11 AM, don't let yourself go all afternoon with only a small snack or no food until your last meal of the day. 

Here's an example of how to use my mini-meal tip:
(water included with meals and workouts)
6am - pre workout snack (300-400 calories)
7:30-10:30am workout (sport drink/gels included)
11am - post workout recovery drink (~15-20g protein + 30-40g carbs)
11:30am - post workout meal (ex. 2-3 pancakes w/ syrup and fruit + scrambled eggs and spinach)
1:30/2pm - quinoa or rice w/ mixed veggies and cottage cheese (or lean meat/fish) OR PB&J sandwich and a banana OR yogurt w/ fruit and granola
4:30/5pm - small snack before dinner - veggies with hummus, a few crackers with cheese, piece of fruit small handful nuts and raisins
6:30/7pm - dinner (your choice - example baked potato with fish (or tempeh) and veggies topped with olive oil. This would look like: starch/grains with veg or fruit, healthy fat and your choice of protein. )