Whether it’s sweaty spinning or an outdoor HIIT session, everyone is swapping the gym for the latest hardcore exercise class nowadays.
We know our burpees from our hill sprints, but we’re still in the dark when it comes to the best ways to refuel after sport. Do you need to cram in protein straight after cardio? How much water should you be drinking post-exercise?
We spoke to sport and exercise nutrition expert Chris McLeod, to get the lowdown on five nutrition mistakes we commonly make post-workout.
Not drinking enough water after a workout
Hands up if you’re guilty of not drinking enough water post-exercise. Yep, us too. You might think a quick swig after hopping off the treadmill is enough, however glugging after a sweaty cardio session only replenishes around 70 per cent of the water that you’ve lost.
So how do you measure how much to drink post-workout? Chris has a handy tip. “Weigh yourself before and after a gym session. Look to drink the difference seen in grams as millilitres of water – plus half that amount again. For example, a weight loss of 500g during a workout would mean you should drink 750ml of water.”
Avoiding carbs because ‘it’s un-doing all of the good work’
Protein is the golden boy of post-workout snacks, but carbohydrates are a crucial part of a balanced diet, too.
“Don’t be scared of carbs,” says Chris. “Gym-goers have had the importance of eating protein after a workout blazed into them, but carbs are just as crucial. They bolster waning blood sugar levels, increase the potency of a protein hit and, most importantly, replenish our energy stores.”
“If you watch your diet and exercise regularly, you don’t need to worry about your body turning carbohydrates into fat.”
Rushing to get your protein in within 30-minutes of a workout
Always hurrying to protein-up within 30-minutes of a workout? Don’t stress.
There’s no critical timeframe for consuming protein after exercise. “You have as much as 24-hours after you hit the gym to optimise muscle protein synthesis, sometimes even longer,” says Chris.
“So don’t worry if you forget to bring a post-workout shake in your gym bag. Just have a good protein hit when you get home.”
Choosing a man-made protein shake over natural protein
Protein shakes have their place, but they aren’t the only way to stock up after a workout. “Milk is often overlooked as a natural alternative to protein shakes,” notes Chris. “It’s an inexpensive, natural source of protein and carbohydrates.”
So next time you reach for the shake, consider swapping it for the white stuff. Arla Protein milk has all the goodness of your usual litre, but with 30 per cent more protein* than standard skimmed milk – that’s 20g of protein per serving.
Not eating a good, balanced breakfast
Everyday should start with a solid breakfast. That bowl of cereal or breakfast bar just won’t give you the protein your body craves after a hardcore HIIT class.
“Optimising the number of protein hits you eat per day will help speed up recovery and allow you to train at a high intensity again sooner,” suggests Chris. Choose a balanced breakfast option that ticks all the boxes.
Once you’ve enjoyed a good, healthy breakfast, you’ll be set up perfectly for the rest of the day.
*Contains more protein than standard skimmed milk based on a market average. Claim based on 450ml serving.