Are you hitting the gym hard but getting hardly any results? Your gym-day diet might need a makeover. Professor of Health and Exercise Science Jie Kang, author of Nutrition and Metabolism in Sports, Exercise, and Health, has these suggestions for you.
> Nutrition begins the night before. Eat some pasta. Carbohydrates get stored in the muscle as glycogen, the muscle’s fuel for a good workout, but “glycogen loading takes time,” Kang says.
> Vary the carbs. Three to four hours before exercise, eat a source of high-glycemic carbohydrates (a muffin or a banana) so the carbs head to the muscle faster. Limit your intake to 300 calories and include some protein (chocolate milk or a smoothie) to “feel full” and for energy.
> Use the “metabolic window.” The two hours post workout is when your circulation is still humming and enzyme activity is highest, says Kang. So it’s an ideal time to eat high-glycemic foods (e.g., some pineapple or a bagel) to restore glycogen in depleted muscles.
> Remember your alphabet. Your immune system is prone to infections post-workout, so Kang advises taking vitamins E and C.
> Don’t overdo protein. The stomach can’t digest too much, Kang says. For those looking to get stronger, post-workout diets should be three-parts protein, one- part carbohydrates. The opposite applies for endurance sport enthusiasts.