Feb 12th, 2013
Post WOD Recovery
Crushing a WOD and then passing on a post-WOD meal is the equivalent of driving your car until it runs out of gas, then filling it up only halfway and expecting it to drive the same distance. Its not going to happen. When we workout we deplete our glycogen stores and we need to replenish them in order to optimize are subsequent workouts. Glycogen is our muscle energy. Low glycogen levels lead to poor performance. Our bodies naturally replenish glycogen but after are WOD we need some extra help. This is where our post-WOD meal comes into play. Studies have shown that we have a 30 minute window post-WOD where our muscles are most receptive to take in protein and carbs. Consuming carbs post-WOD spike our insulin, which shuttles the carbs and protein into the muscles. Thus replenishing our glycogen at a higher rate than our body would have done on its own. You ALWAYS want to avoid fat in your post workout meal because fats slow down the replenishing process. Long story short, consume carbs and protein within 30 minutes post-WOD.
What are the right amount of protein and carbs? CrossFitters have seen .4-.8g of carbs per kg of bodyweight and .2-.4g/kg of bodyweight of protein seems to be an ample amount. The range takes into account the intensity and duration of the workout. This is where you have to use your best judgment. On a good day I weigh about 93kg so my carb intake varies between 36g and 72g and 21g and 41g for protein. So pretty much a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Typically I take in 36g of carbs and 24g of protein for a normal workout, which would be considered a 3-block meal. Keep in mind to count your protein blocks in your post WOD shake toward your total block consumption per day.
Real food is always the best option in terms of quality of nutrition. However, telling someone to eat a chicken breast and sweet potato post-WOD will mostly not end well. Eating real food minutes after you push yourself to the limit is not the best idea. This is why you see people crushing shakes. They are quick, convenient and easily digestible. Taking a shake like Optimum Nutrition’s 2 1 1 is a great choice because it is a good ratio of quick high glycemic carbs and protein. Another similar product is After Shock and works great as well.
You can also make your own shakes by combining whey protein and dextrose and/or waxy maze. Whey protein is a fast acting protein and gets into your muscle quickly, making is a great choice for post WOD. If you are lactose intolerant you might want to try a hydrolyzed protein. Whey is derived from milk but the way hydrolyzed protein is made makes it easier on the stomach. For people who want to be completely gluten free taking an egg protein is a great choice. Just substitute these for the whey protein in your custom shake. Just make sure you check out the ingredient list to make sure its not 9 pages long filled with 15 syllable ingredients. Companies like Stronger, Faster, Healthier; Progenex and Optimum Nutrition are solid choices. The simpler, more natural, the better.
Simple sugars are the key for the carb portion of your shake. Pure dextrose, aka sugar, seems to be the best way to spike your insulin and replenish your muscle glycogen the faster. Maxy Maze is a new product but has had great results as well.
If you want to eat food, pick a carb that is high on the glycemic index so you get the same insulin spike as ingesting a simple sugar. Click here to see a list of carbs and how they rank on the glycemic index. The higher the glycemic load the better. I hate to say it but this is where eating grains, sugars and starches have been found to be helpful. I have heard of weightlifters adding Frosted Flakes in their protein shakes and crushing them post workout. They swear by it. However, if you want to stick to the paleo thing, eating a sweet potato is a solid choice.
Getting even more technical, we want to stay away from fructose as our carbohydrate source because fructose is absorbed slower and replenishes our liver glycogen. Liver glycogen is used for the very long endurance WODs where we mainly deplete our muscle glycogen.
Got it? Now lets crush some WODs
5 rounds of
15 HR Push Ups
15 Superman Rocks
10 minutes of overhead mobility – find out where you are limited and improve the position.
WOD (15 min)
15 Shoulder to Overhead
15 Burpee Pull-ups
3 rounds of
max back extensions
max ring dips
*take as much time as necessary between each attempt*