As many people naturally do when they want to get a result is reach for the 1200 calorie diet, and cut carbs. However, this comes down to the education and knowledge that is out there around what to eat, and the best "diet" to follow! You want to eat in such a way that it keeps you energized, lean, and strong for your workouts and day to day activities.
You could try rather than cutting things out dividing your meals into two major categories:
FM– Free meals - These are meals that are low in carbs, mostly based around veggies, protein, and healthy fats. You can enjoy FM (FREE MEALS) any time of the day.
WEM– Workout Earned Meals - These are meals that you have earned with a high-intensity workout and tend to be higher carbs.These are things like fast-digesting starchy carbs (such as baked potatoes, rice, legumes, white bread or pasta), certain fruit, and alcohol. You should aim to only eat these on days that you have done a high-intensity workout.
While there is now new research that shows eating carbs right after your workout is no longer as important as the number of total carbs you eat over the course of the day, you can benefit greatly when you save these carbs for the days you do a high-intensity workout.
And Here’s why…
After high-intensity exercise, our bodies are primed to accept and use nutrients (especially carbs) more effectively than on the days when we don’t work out. After an intense workout, our muscle and liver glycogen levels are running low. When you eat a WEM ( Workout Earnt Meal) or a higher carb meal, these carbs get sucked up by your muscles, and it works to repair them and deliver nutrients more efficiently. When you eat carbs without depleting your glycogen stores, you are more likely to store these carbs as body fat, since muscle and liver levels are full.
Earning your carb-heavy meals with a workout is a great way to ensure you’re burning fat instead of storing it.
Rob Sulaver, Board of Advisors for Arnold Schwarzenegger, says, ”Eating a high carb meal when you work out will feed those hungry muscles without storing energy as fat. An influx of carbs will spike your insulin which will drive glycogen into your muscles and get you all prepped for your next intense workout. Plus, this carb/insulin spike helps with a cascade effect that returns your hormones to their happy pre-workout state, because while all those higher-stress hormones are great when you’re working out, you don’t want ‘em in your system all day.”
Earning your WEM meals with a workout will fuel your muscles, prep your body for the next workout, drive essential nutrients into your muscles, it helps prevent low blood sugar and fatigue, and help you burn fat instead of storing it.
When it comes to post-workout recovery, always consider the three Rs:
- Refuel your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores to avoid muscle tissue breakdown and low energy.
- Lack of glucose to fuel the brain can lead to decreased alertness and concentration, and low mood.
- Aim for high quality carbohydrates sources (think wholegrain breads and cereals).
- Repair damaged muscles with protein.
- Consuming protein post-workout will provide amino acids for the building and repair of muscle tissue. This will help you to recover more quickly.
- Aim for lean protein sources (think lean meats, eggs, nuts, legumes, tofu and reduced fat dairy).
- Rehydrate with fluids.
- Most of us finish a workout at least a little dehydrated, and you will continue to lose fluids through sweating and breathing. It is essential that you replace these fluids immediately.
- Your thirst is not the best gauge of hydration. The best way to tell how hydrated you are is to look at the colour of your urine. You want to aim for straw-coloured urine. The darker it is, the more dehydrated you are.