You finished you’re grueling workout and now it’s time for some post-workout recovery. What do you grab? Hopefully a source of protein to kickstart the recovery process and help rebuild all of those torn down muscle fibers. Many people prefer to also include a carbohydrate source along with their post-workout nutrition. This is fine, however, you should be aware of the type of carbohydrate you’re consuming. One thing to keep in mind is that you should avoid grains post-workout if you want to maximize your recovery timing.
Avoid Grains Post-Workout?
If you have one eyebrow raised, you’re probably not alone. For many, they assume any carbohydrate post-workout would be ideal to help replenish glycogen and aid in shuttling nutrients into the muscles. The downside and why you should avoid grains post-workout is actually due to the fiber content.
Your other eyebrow is probably raised now as you hear everyone preaching about the benefits of fiber in your diet and why it’s so important to get your daily recommended intake (which most people do not achieve – and this is another reason why so many people feel uncomfortable when consuming anything containing a moderate to high fiber content).
How much fiber should you be consuming daily? Men should strive to take in between 30g to 38g of fiber daily while women should consume between 21g and 25g of fiber.
It should be noted that if you are in the camp of using fiber supplements to help reach your recommended daily intake, do not take such supplements with your post-workout nutrition – do not add it to your shake, mix it in with your food, or stir it into a beverage.
Now, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the issue. There are a couple of main issues that surface when you consume foods that are high in fiber which is why you should avoid grains post-workout.
Grains That Are High Fiber Slow Down Digestion
Following a workout, your body turns into a sponge and soaks up anything you put into it. It takes the macronutrients you eat or drink and uses it to refuel the body and the cells as well as provide the muscles with adequate amino acids to rebuild muscle fibers and allow them to come back bigger and stronger.
Directly after finishing your workout is what everyone likes to call the “anabolic window of opportunity.” As cheesy as it may sound, it exists and during this time is when your body is the most capable of absorbing and utilizing nutrients. Now, the research on the actual timing of the “anabolic window of opportunity” is all over the board. Some research shows you should consume your post-workout nutrition within 45 minutes, some research shows you can wait as long as two hours, and other research says the whole thing isn’t true and your body will benefit regardless of how soon or how long your wait to take in your post-workout nutrition or next meal.
Which is your best bet for timing? As a general rule for most, the sooner the better. Why? It’s simple, we are all busy and if we don’t take in our post-workout nutrition soon after finishing a workout, we get busy and before you know it, it’s been four hours or longer and you never took in any form of protein to help with recovery. Not to mention, following a taxing workout, your body needs to replenish its energy so you can function for the rest of the day.
So, why avoid grains post-workout? As the heading states, fiber slows down digestion and absorption. The same can be said about fats. The whole point of taking advantage of the "anabolic window of opportunity" is to get nutrients into your system as quickly as possible. That means fast-absorbing nutrients. Slowing down the digestion process only delays absorption and transport of key nutrients to the muscles for recovery.
While most protein powders on the market tend to be lower in fiber, there are some that lean more towards being utilized as a meal replacement that can drastically increase the fiber content. Those also tend to be higher in fat as well which is why you would want to avoid such protein supplements post-workout.
Post-workout it is common to see individuals eating whole-wheat spaghetti, barley, bran flakes, quinoa, oat bran, instant oatmeal, brown rice, or even several pieces of whole-wheat bread. These are some of the grains with the highest fiber content. You want to avoid them at all costs following your workouts.
High Fiber Grains Can Cause Bloating and Stomach Cramping
Interestingly enough, you’ve probably experienced this and never knew the reasoning behind it. Have you ever consumed a post-workout meal only to feel bloated, gassy, and suffering from stomach cramps shortly after? It was probably due to the fiber you consumed in the meal.
It could even happen with the protein powder you’re using. Check the label and see if it uses inulin or chicory root – both of which are sources of fiber that can be difficult to digest.
If you were to avoid grains post-workout, you can minimize your risk of bloating and stomach cramps. That said, you’re probably wondering why these negative side effects even happen. When you consume large amounts of fiber and your body is not used to such, it can overwhelm the bacteria in your digestive tract. In addition, fiber can absorb water and swell which can cause discomfort.
Another reason to avoid grains post-workout is gas. Consuming fiber can cause your stool to become larger which can cause fermentation that promotes the formation of gas. When this happens, it can cause stomach and abdominal pain.
Looking for a Delicious Post-Workout Meal?
Post-workout is an extremely important piece of whether or not you achieve your health and fitness goals. Therefore, Evogen Nutrition has launched their very first ultra-pure grain-free plant protein called GreenTein.
Evogen Nutrition GreenTein contains 20g of plant-based protein coming from sources like pea protein isolate, pumpkin seed protein, and watermelon seed protein. It contains 7g of essential amino acids (EAAs) and is fortified with a bioavailable form of B12. Available in a delicious Vanilla Almond and a Dark Chocolate Caramel, you’ll have something to look forward to after your workouts.
The take-home message is that you want to choose foods that help you move closer to your goals, not further away. It all comes down to understanding how certain foods help or hinder you and leveraging those that will benefit you the most post-workout. Therefore, you should absolutely avoid grains post-workout by utilizing a premium plant-based protein like GreenTein to maximize your window of opportunity and recover faster.