Q&A With Brian
Hi Brian, I’d like to think that I lead a very active and healthy lifestyle. I workout 3-4 times a week, and also aim to focus my dietary intake on protein and vegetables. However, I’ve always wondered whether or not I should be taking any additional supplements to compliment my Healthy Lifestyle. I see men of all ages taking protein shakes directly after their workouts. Should women do the same, or is eating protein from food suffice? Could you provide any advice as to what supplements or protein shakes I should be taking? I have to say I love reading your articles Brian, they’re always full of useful hints and tips. Many Thanks. Nicole, Morley (WA).
Hi Nicole, thanks for your great question and positive feedback, I appreciate it.
Your question regarding supplements is a difficult one as the best use of them is particular to an individuals’ dietary and lifestyle requirements. From your question it appears your diet consists mainly of protein and vegetables, which is great. I’d look to add sources of Omega 3 daily in addition, they’re essential.
As you mentioned noticing men after a workout consuming protein shakes I thought I’d give you some advice on what can be a critical time for nutrition. Post Work Out.
One common question I field from my clients is:
“When I exercise it really makes me hungry. What should I eat?”
It’s a great question, and my answer always is, “What are you actually hungry for?”
Over the years I’ve found many people (myself included) first instinct when feeling hungry is to go directly for food. This instinct seems to be magnified when the hunger sensation occurs after a training session. You might think that’s common-sense.
“I’ve done a workout, worked my muscles, I need to refuel.”
But what if our interpretation of the signal is incorrect? What if it’s not food your body if asking for? We just aren’t listening properly.
I’ll talk about the type of food your body needs to recover properly from exercise a bit later.
But what are some of the other things you may be hungry for or craving?
Water – I’m sure you’ve heard this before but water is so vital for recovery, I can’t stress it enough. Your blood is made from the water you drink. Your blood is the river of supply to all of your 50 billion cells that make up you. Without a steady supply of essential nutrients via your blood, your body can’t recover and repair properly.
Importantly, it can’t rid itself of the toxins produced as a result of exercise either. I’m not into drinking large amounts during a workout; it’s impractical and can make you feel uncomfortable. However, after training I go into my rehydration routine and drink a minimum of 1 litre of water. I encourage you to adopt this practice too; you’ll be amazed at the improvement in your recovery.
Rest – Exercise is a stress on your body. It’s physically demanding and can leave you feeling tired. I’m sure if you’re carrying excess weight or are new to exercise, you’d readily agree with this statement. It’s important to recognise this and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re weak or lazy. Have a look at our animal friends, especially some of the fastest animals on earth, like the tiger. They use huge amounts of energy in short, explosive bursts when hunting for prey and then lie around for the rest of the day recovering. I’m not suggesting you lay around all day, but I do encourage you to get sufficient rest and allow yourself time to recover. You may find you need more sleep when starting out, or even a rest during the day (most professional athletes I know have a nap in the afternoon). One of the best remedies for reducing the stress is sleep. Your body repairs itself when you’re asleep, it can’t do it when you are awake, so getting enough sleep is vital but giving your body the time to repair and rebuild that new body you deserve.
“I’m well rested, I’ve drunk enough water but I’m still hungry! What can I eat?”
OK, the last thing I want to do is deprive you of eating. Let’s quickly look at your muscle tissues and see what’s happening to them when you exercise.
Tearing – tiny microscopic tears occur in your muscles as a result of the strain you are placing on them, particularly the strain placed on them when doing Resistance Training and/or High Intensity Interval Training, of which I’m very keen.
High Intensity Interval Training places excessive loads on your muscles. This is a good thing though; the tearing is a normal part of the physiology of a muscle, and the only way your body knows it’s required to repair and rebuild a stronger, better equipped muscle. To repair and build stronger muscles, your body needs an array of essential nutrients, but it relies heavily on two key nutrients and they are Protein and Vitamin C.
There’s some evidence to suggest there is a two hour window of opportunity post exercise when your muscle cells are primed for the uptake of these nutrients. I’m not sure if the time frame is proven scientifically, or even important, but it does seem logical that the stimulus of exercise would release signals for an increase in nutrients required for repair.
Regardless of the time frame, if you’re hungry after a training session you’d be wise to include good sources of protein and vitamin C. I have provided a list of foods high in Protein and Vitamin C.
Whey protein powder
Organic, grass fed meats
Cold-water, wild fish
Free range eggs – omega enriched
Organic yoghurt (cow, sheep, goat)
White cheeses (especially goat or sheep)
Raw nuts & seeds
VITAMIN C sources (to name just a few)
Bell peppers (capsicum)
Strawberries, or any berries
One of the simplest ways of getting these nutrients into your body post workout is by having a Smoothie. I recently produced an exercise program for The Gabriel Method, and as a part of this program we put together some recipes. One of my absolute favourites is a Chocolate Protein Smoothie, it’s packed full of nutrition and tasted awesome. I like to add some berries to it too. We produced a quick video and recipe sheet for our Chocolate Protein Smoothie, which I encourage you to look at here
Thanks again Nicole, I wish you the best of health.