Did you experience an intense work? Are your muscle crying of pain? No problem! I’ll teach you how to eat proportionally to gain the best out of your workout and enhance muscle recovery.
Different people may have different needs depending on their gender, age, diet, physical activity levels and body composition goals. Typically though, I recommend implementing the 1/3 rule to allow for optimal exercise gains. This entails dividing your plate into thirds of carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables.
To begin with, carbohydrates are essential after an intense exercise session for two reasons: a) to replenish the lost carbohydrates that were used up for energy during exercise and b) to spare the loss of muscle that occurs post-exercise.
By consuming carbohydrates after exercise, insulin (a hormone) is released from the pancreas to help either use sugar as energy to restore body functions (i.e. heart rate and core body temperature) or to store it for future use. In either case, this insulin-release may help spare protein, and hence muscle, from being used as a way to replace lost energy post-exercise.
If sore muscles are on the horizon, protein should be your best friend after an intense workout. The key role of protein is muscle growth and repair. The reason why you may experience Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) after an exercise session is due to micro tears in muscle fibers as a result of your hard work out.
What heals and repairs micro-tears? Proteins! That said, consume a protein-rich meal post-exercise to ensure maximal muscle recovery and growth. Even if you’ve taken a protein shake immediately after exercise, definitely include a source of protein in your subsequent meals to avoid any muscle loss.
Another symptom you may experience which is not as apparent as say, muscle soreness, is muscle inflammation. Following intense exercise sessions, your muscles may be inflamed due to the successive stress and load placed on the muscles during your workout.
To able to continue exercising day-in-day-out, reducing inflammation appears fundamental to maintaining muscle integrity and function. Of course, we still need some inflammation as it triggers the release of chemical healing properties…but this is a whole other topic!
Therefore, consuming fruits and vegetables are a great way to reduce muscle inflammation. Absorption of the vitamins and minerals present in fruits and vegetables can help reduce inflammation and provide anti-oxidant effects, essentially alleviating muscle inflammation.
Understanding the concept of the 1/3 rule may save you the hassle of weighing your food. It’s a great technique to control your portion sizes for an optimal body composition, while also making sure you consume an adequate amount of macronutrients for big gains. 1/3 carbohydrates. 1/3 protein. 1/3 vegetables. Remember the rule.