I had to post this asap as I just experienced a complete orgasm in my mouth via organic mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt.  As a personal trainer who has always practiced what he preaches, I strive to dial in my diet each and every day with the most nutritious whole foods (mostly in large quantities to support my habit of lifting heavy things).  But every once in a while I allow myself to indulge in something sweet after I’ve had an intense, gut-busting, sweat-pouring workout.  I’ve read research that states that the only time your body will efficiently process sugar is after an intense workout and I’m sticking to it.

So today, along with the traditional scoop of protein, I decided to reach for Stonyfield Farm’s (huge fan of organic dairy, they supposedly treat the cows better) Minty Chocolate Chip frozen yogurt and WOW.  I am a closet chocoholic and this, despite being extremely nutritious, did more than hit the spot.

Not only is it organic, it is low in fat and covers all of your post-workout necessities.  It contains a small dose of natural simple sugars to help restore your muscle’s glycogen stores from an intense workout or long cardio session.  It is full of antioxidants called flavonoids from its delicious dark chocolate content to prevent your muscles from catabolism (breaking things down), and also contains healthy bacteria (the same as yogurt) to aid in digestion. On top of it all, it is so delicious that you won’t be able to tell this from regular fatty fat ice cream in a double-blind taste testing.  Kudos to you Stonyfield Farm for creating this sinfully delicious treat.

So as for today’s post I actually wanted to answer one question that I frequently get asked about diet and nutrition concerning your pre- and post- workout meal or supplementation (e.g. protein shake).  Some say that they are the most important meals of the day and honestly I’ve fallen into that trap for almost a decade.  So with all the differing information, how are we supposed to separate fact from fiction?

We workout to build muscle that will in turn help us to melt off some of the excess body fat that accumulates through bad dieting and not exercising as much as we should (or in some cases not at all).  In that aspect, you would think protein to rebuild muscle, which is dead on- but alas, it is only a small part of the puzzle.  Carbohydrates also play an important role because they are the transport vehicle for the protein molecules that speed recovery of those muscles.  In that case I would say that research has proven that EVERY meal is the most important meal of the day.

Pre-workout you need clean burning fuel to fill your energy tank but not fill you up.  Simply meaning you want low-glycemic carbs (slow burning) to give you energy and protein to help prevent catabolism (muscle tissue breakdown).  The best combo is 30-60 grams of carbs and 10-20grams of protein.  You also might want to give your food time to digest, so I recommend eating 30-60 minutes before your workout.  This is very important for many reasons.  Picture what driving on the highway on an empty tank would do to your car, and now think in terms of your body.  I’m a fan of Kashi G0-Lean cereal and yogurt, a granola bar and glass of low-fat milk, or Cliff Bars work really well.  I’m  also big on sandwiches with turkey, spinach, and tomato spiced up with hummus as a spread.  Again, this is a VIP meal.

That said, post workout your muscles need nourishment in the form of protein and carbohydrates.  Studies have shown that after intense exercise you should consume 20-80 grams of carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars (gatorade works well as it is a RECOVERY drink and laced with electrolytes) as well as 10-20grams of protein (shakes if that’s your thing).  Liquid nutrition works best for quick digestion, and if protein or nutrition shakes are not your thing one replacement I have come across is Garelic Farms Tru Moo Chocolate Milk.  It has a great combination of carbs, protein, and electrolytes.  Yum.

This covers your pre- and post-workout basics when it comes to nutrition. Post questions and I will respond.  More to come in the form of the importance of breakfast which happens to be my favorite meal (eggwhite omelettes stuffed with vegetables with a blueberry-walnut oatmeal sidekick…I’m verklempt)

Written by Steve