The Foundation of Recovery: Post Workout Nutrition Basics
by Brandon Alred
In CrossFit we firmly believe the foundation of fitness is nutrition. This is true of the fitness novice looking to lose a few pounds as well as the finely tuned professional athlete. The opportunity to get your body the nutrients it needs to recover quickly and recover well falls immediately after your workout. There is about a one hour opportunity to feed those muscles and get a significant return on the calories consumed.
While opinions vary when it comes to post workout nutrition, everyone agrees that your body expends a significant portion of its glycogen stores after an hour of what we do every day (warmup, strength/skill, and then metabolic conditioning). Part of ensuring that you are at your best during your next day in the gym, is fueling yourself post workout. Your previous day’s post workout choices are profoundly impacting your workout today. While there are many different methods and formulas, I have found a simple post workout formula that has drastically improved my strength and given me plenty of energy for burpees and box jumps.
A 1/1 protein to carb ratio for a normal workout
A 1/2 protein to carb ratio for longer workouts (eg. MURPH, competition days, two-a-days)
I cannot emphasize this enough, your previous day’s post workout choices are profoundly impacting your workout today. On a normal day at Covenant I attempt to consume around 30g of protein and 30g of carbohydrates immediately after a workout. When I have been able to do this I have noticed a huge difference in how sore I am the next day, and how much energy I have during the next day’s workout. I went from barely being able to workout 3 days in a row, to being able to hit 5 days while feeling strong throughout. During competitions, days when I train multiple times a day, or longer more brutal WODs like Murph, I may bump that ratio up to 1/2 and find the same effectiveness.
There are various ways of consuming these proteins and carbs. While real food is best, I have found a combination of Progenex and some fast digesting carbs to be a key to easily and conveniently fueling my recovery.
Tropical Vanilla Recovery – 1 serving – 22g Protein/10g Carb
Belgian Chocolate More Muscle – 1/2 serving – 15g of Protein/6g carb
Fast Carbohydrates (One of the Below)
11oz Bottle of Coconut Water (16g Carbs)
1 Ripe Banana (27-32g Carbs)
2 Medjool Dates (36g Carbs!)
The Carbohydrates provide the much needed replenishment of glycogen the body needs. Glycogen is the body’s go to energy source during our workouts, without it we feel weak and lethargic and contrary to popular belief we are burning more muscle than fat in these moments.
The protein offers the body, especially the muscles, the tool it needs to build strong lean muscle. More lean muscle means the more fat we burn while at rest (i.e. higher metabolism).
While I understand many of our athletes are interested in losing weight, it is important to remember that maintaining enough energy to build muscle and bring intensity to every workout, will help you reach your goals faster. Proper post workout nutrition will enable you to make each workout count more, as you will be able to work harder each workout, burning more calories, building more muscle, and continuing to increase your resting metabolism.
Change The Game
by, Sean Mata
We spend a lot of time, money and energy at Covenant to look and feel great. But bad habits can often sabotage our efforts and set us back. Here are 4 tips to get the most from your hard work.
One of the most critical components to feeling great is your diet. The choice is yours…sure we all have busy lives but fortunately if you make healthy eating a priority you’re already winning. Keep it simple; eat natural foods that are made in the kitchen, not processed in a factory. A majority of the time if you look at the nutrition label and it contains multiple ingredients, it’s not real and you’re better off avoiding it. Keep lots of fresh produce, and healthy balance of meats, starches and healthy fats. Our bodies need food to function properly and if we don’t fuel them everything starts to shift in a negative direction. Without food our bodies do not have enough energy to sustain health and begin to shut down/deteriorate. The body goes into starvation mode and slows down body functions to conserve energy (and nobody likes skinny fat anyways). There is a lot more science to consider but we will save that for a later post. Point is, don’t skip meals. Below you will see some helpful tips to succeed with your diet…
Eat medium size meals 5x/day.
Plan your meals ahead of time. If you don’t you will NOT be happy with the outcome.
Avoid products with nutrition labels.
When you’re out grocery shopping, stick to the perimeter. Aisles tend to carry garbage. If there is label, look at the ingredients, you should be able recognize them all. If not it is processed and best to avoid it.
Cook at home.
Even though you might think something is healthy at a restaurant you have no idea what ingredients they are cooking with or the real quality of those ingredients.
Take 1-hour 2x/week to meal prep at home.
Look out for other candid forms (high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, maltose, dextrose, etc.)
Try to avoid snacking
Track your progress along the way by having notes/pictures to reflect on.
Again guys this is very basic but we don’t need to make this complicated. You work your ass off in the gym and the fact is, your trying to look good naked. You are not a dog working for treats. Eat to perform. Don’t perform to eat.
Sleep is crucial in all areas of recovery; muscular, mental, emotional. In our world today this is perhaps the most neglected element of health. We all know that if we get a good night’s sleep we most likely feel great the next day. But sleep also goes a long way in allowing our muscles to build and recover. Things go a lot smoother and we’re ready to take on whatever’s next not to mention it allows us to hit that next workout even harder. This is a fun opportunity to treat yourself. Buy some comfy bedding, turn down the air and sleep naked, seriously. Plan ahead for a solid 8 hours sleep. Turn off the TV and read a book. iPhone made the do not disturb button for a reason and if you use it everything will be there in the morning, I promise. If you don’t have time, make time, plan ahead.
Water is the most important nutrient of the human body. The human brain is composed of 95% water; blood is 82% water; the lungs are almost 90% water. Again in order to function properly we need a significant amount of water. When the body goes into dehydration there are multiple negative effects: slower thinking, decrease in concentration, impaired neuromuscular response, cramping, decrease in strength and slower muscular response. The benefits in staying hydrated include: aids in weight loss, and muscle building, while reducing fatigue, and fluid retention, all while increasing muscle tone and reducing the risk of disease.
So how much water should we drink? This really is determined on your activity level. Start with 1-ounce per pound of bodyweight. Then keep in mind the Houston heat after a workout and take in between 32 oz.- 64oz. immediately after. We loose a large amount of water during exercise and need to address it quickly to prevent dehydration.
When I say meditate I don’t necessarily mean the “OMMMMM’s” or sitting Indian style with gang signs thrown up on your knees. But if that’s how you find peace then that’s exactly what I’m saying. We are all programmed differently and hopefully you know something that keeps you at peace. Maybe it’s sitting outside with a cup of coffee in the morning, taking a walk by the bayou or sitting in silence. Whatever it is this should be a time for you, a time of peace and reflection. Think about what/who/when it is that truly makes you happy and stay in tuned with that. By focusing on positive thoughts a person brings positive experiences. Meditating is a free way of enjoying your life and creating future possibilities.
The Importance of Scaling
by, Brandon Alred
If you’ve been around CrossFit a while, your familiar with scaling. For some scaling might seem like a thing of the past. After all, a certain level of pride comes in completing a workout as prescribed, and rightly so. But we must remember that one obstacle standing between us and the version of ourselves were trying to create can often be our egos. Every CrossFit athlete must understand that getting better will often involve scaling our workouts as needed and checking our ego’s at the door. This includes those of us who can complete most workouts as prescribed. Perhaps we have forgotten or never truly understood the power of scaling.
The Point of Scaling
Each workout is unique and has intended physiological effects. But often times, strength, mobility, or ability can inhibit those desired effects. Scaling offers the solution. By scaling, we enable ourselves to experience the workout the way it was designed to be experienced. For example, “CrossFit Total” is designed to be a slow test of strength measuring your one rep max in the Squat, Press, and Deadlift. It would make little sense to see how fast these maxes can be achieved as that is not the aim of the workout. On the other hand, “Fran” is an all out assault on your metabolic conditioning (and your soul). To Rx “Fran,” but take 32 minutes to do so, defeats the purpose of “Fran.” While it might console our egos to walk away saying we Rx’d it, did we truly experience Fran if it took us 32 minutes?
Scaling helps create the intended physiological effects of a given workout, which makes us better. The whiteboard becomes an invaluable tool in knowing when and where we should be scaling. If we are constantly off the pace of the class, we need to drop the weight and find that pace. Likewise, if we find a consistent movement causing our scores to vary greatly from the class average we know we need to adjust the next time that movement shows up. Given this, keeping a log of our training becomes key to getting the most out of each and every workout. Our logs must not simply note our workout, weight and score, but should also include notes on how we felt that day, where we struggled and maybe even notes on our diet and sleep.
When scaling is done right, it is a thing of beauty. The gap narrows between the scores of the fittest athlete in the Box and the one who started a week ago. Remember we are trying to create a parallel physiological response by putting your body through a certain test. Your strength and capabilities mean that you might not be able to do the same exact movement or weight as the guy or gal next you, and thats ok. Scaling ensures that you achieve the physiological goal of the workout.The Power of Scaling
So how does lifting less weight actually make us better? Less weight means more reps more quickly equating to a greater power output. In CrossFit we call this intensity. Greater intensity equals more of what we are after in CrossFit. Intensity makes us better.
So how does less weight equate to higher power? We calculate power by multiplying Force times Distance and then dividing that over the time it took ([F x D]/T = Power). Force can be found by calculating mass times acceleration. But since we are working against gravity the acceleration remains constant for all athletes on earth and thus cancels out. Likewise because when talking about scaling we are comparing you with yourself the distance a weight moves also remains constant and cancels out. The mass (or weight) we move thus becomes our main variable in a given movement. So when determining our power output we only need to worry about dividing how much weight you moved by the time it took you to move it (Mass/Time = Power). Measuring our workouts by weight and a clock should sound familiar to any CrossFitter. With that said, two examples will prove the power of scaling.
10 minute AMRAP
5 OHS 140#
10 Box Jumps 24”
To figure out our power output we simply need to divide the total weight moved by the time taken to move it.
Weight/Time = Power
Lets say you attempt this 10 minute AMRAP Rx and complete 1 rnd + 2 reps. In ten minutes you moved an impressive total of 980# by squatting 140# 7 times. Thus your power output was 98# per minute (980#/10 min = 98# per min).
Let’s try again but scale the OHS weight by 50% down to 70#. This time you burn through the workout cranking out 3 rnds + 1 rep. You’ve now moved a total weight of 1120# in the same amount of time. While impressive, the real shock comes when we see that your power output increased to 112# per minute (1120#/10 min = 112#per min) during the same amount of time.
How can this be? In your second attempt you spent less time standing and staring at the bar and more time moving, thus creating a higher power output. This example completely ignores the fact that you would have also completed 20 additional box jumps further widening the gap in your power output between the two workouts. Therefore the scaled workout saw you working harder, working more consistently and moving more weight in the same ten minutes. You had a harder, more productive workout by scaling.
21 – 15 – 9
The above principle also applies to a task prioritized workout. We will use Fran as our example. In Fran everyone must do all 45 reps no matter how long it takes us. So in a task prioritized workout the number of reps does not effect our power output. Instead our power output is determined by how quickly we complete those reps. So our equation stays the same.
Weight/Time = Power
On your first Fran attempt your ego (or naiveté) convinces you that you must do the 45 thrusters at 95# and it takes you 15 minutes to finish. In this scenario your power output was 285# per minute (4275#/15 min = 285# per min).
Trying a second time you scale the thrusters to 75#. This is close to a 21% drop in weight. Your time drops to 11 minutes and your power output increases to 306# per minute (3375#/11 min = 306# per min).
So while you moved more weight overall by completing Fran as prescribed, you created less power per minute. Given that Fran is intended to be a sprint, the scaled option closer reflects the all out assault Fran was designed to inflict on one’s body. That is, higher power output for a short period of time (this is why it hurts like it does). Again, like the box jumps above, this scenario does not take into account the pull-ups. The principle of power and scaling can also be applied to doing pull ups with or without a band.
In both of the scaled workouts you expelled more energy, creating more power per minute by lifting less weight. In other words you did more work. By decreasing the weight we can turn up the intensity. Doing this on a regular basis will get faster results in both our strength and metabolic conditioning. Thus scaling enables us to become better athletes.
When to Scale
There is definitely a point where scaling too much hurts our power output and intensity level. So how do we know whether or not we should scale a workout? There are several answers.
First and foremost we must scale when our technique is not there. This is not merely an issue of safety, this is an issue of you getting the most out of your workouts. Hurting your shoulder, or back by repeatedly moving poorly with heavy weight will only set your fitness back. Listen to your coaches, if you struggle with a movement, bring the weight down until you are proficient enough to safely complete the movement. (Breaking Muscle covers this more thoroughly in their article “3 Reasons You Must Scale Your WOD” at http://breakingmuscle.com/
Second, when you find that you struggle with a movement, you need to make a mental note. When that movement comes back up you may need scale it. There is a balance here as the goal is to continually increase the weight without losing any of the intensity.Know your limits and know your numbers. By knowing your maxes and previous workout scores you can better determine how much weight will be too much. In most cases you should be able to get through the work without stopping for more than a few seconds at a time. The exception to this comes only on those days when the WOD calls for heavy weight and low reps. Listen to your coaches they will tell you when a workout is meant to use a heavier weight. Ultimately we all must leave our egos at the door if we want to reach our goals.
So Why Scale?
There comes a time to push yourself, but we must be smart about it. When in doubt scale. You can always learn from the experience and know how to better adjust next time. Better to scale and burn through a workout than stand at the bar staring. We will all have those workouts where we realize “I could’ve done more,” or “I shouldn’t have tried to do that much.” Take note of those moments, log them and learn from them. Our goal is to get better each day so that we are healthier, happier, and more effective humans. Getting that Rx next to your name each day may not necessarily be the best way to get there. After all, each week the white board will be erased but the physical results of your hard work will remain. This means that scaling every now and then (or often) will often be the quickest way to achieve our goals.