Nutrient Timing for Athletes: Does It Really Matter When We Eat Post-Exercise?

            People have recently started to question the idea of an ‘anabolic window’ post-exercise and whether we really need to eat or have that protein shake after our work-out. But where these opinions fall short is in the interpretations of the current research and literature to an athletic population.

            The idea is that a recent meta-analysis found that our total protein intake over a day is more important than the amount of protein we eat after our workout for building muscle mass, and while this is great information it largely gets mis-interpreted in the media. This is because while total protein intake during the day is more important than the amount we eat during the anabolic window (time after exercise where our ability to absorb nutrients is increased). If we are an athlete why wouldn’t we want to take advantage of this time of increased nutrient absorption? Even if the advantage of eating post-workout is smaller than we originally thought, most sporting events are decided a fraction of a second or a very small percentage, so if we aren’t taking advantage of this window (when our competitors are) then we are sure to fall short in competition. As athletes we must remember that we are in the performance business and not the physique business. While having a low body-fat percentage a key contributor to athletic performance, if we are not fueling our bodies properly than we will not be able to perform no matter how low our body fat percentage is. Also remember that protein does A LOT MORE for our bodies than just build muscle, and helps other bodily tissues recover, repair, and regenerate post-exercise.

            Furthermore, for a lot of our athletes they are partaking in two training sessions on most days (one sport session; one lifting session), so in this scenario is it really practical to post-pone eating after one session and not re-fuel before the next one? Does it ever make sense to not fuel before a session when we are in the performance business? Athletes who fuel better, perform better. Athletes who eat breakfast perform better. Therefore, we don’t usually recommend intermittent fasting to our athletes either. While it is totally possible to train after an overnight fast or a prolonged fast period (cue fasted cardio proponents), if it is going to affect our performance in that workout or training session is the small advantage we might get in body composition going to be worth it? This is like popular ketogenic diets (as we don’t generally recommend these to our athletes), as most studies have found performance isn’t improved with these diets (even though body composition might). This doesn’t make us promoters of high carbohydrate diets, but we do need to refuel the glycogen stores in our muscle that our athletes exhaust with high-intensity exercise bouts, especially following competition. 

Bottom Line: If you are not taking advantage of nutrient timing and the post-exercise window as an athlete you are missing out on important opportunity to fuel, regenerate, and repair your body for optimal performance. For athlete’s there is really no situation where it is a good idea to delaying feeding after exercise no matter what you’ve heard on social media.

Here are some guidelines to help maximize your post-exercise nutrition:

Post-Exercise Maximize Glycogen Re-Synthesis (within 30 min):

HIGH GLYCEMIC CARBOHYDRATES 1-1.5g/kg/hr

ADD PROTEIN! 0.25-0.5g/kg/hr enhances effect; as long as <1.2g/kg/hr

Example (70kg individual) ***individual needs may vary***

  • ~70g CHO/HR ~30g PRO/HR
  • (Large Banana, English Muffin with Jam, Protein Drink)

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Dinosaur kale salad.

Dinosaur kale salad.

A fresh spring/ summer salad that with a quick substitution can change from started to main course.
Prep Time 10 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Bowl dinosaur kale with stems removed
  • 1/2 cup sliced radish
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • sliced gouda cheese
  • 2 lrg avocado
  • Dressing
  • 1/4 c raw tahini
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c water to thin
  • Topping options
  • 1/2 pkg Smoked salmon
  • 1 Chicken breast per person
  • Sliced steak
  • Grilled tofu

Instructions
 

  • Remove stems and wash kale, then tear into smaller pieces.
  • Slice radish and dice avocado then place in bowl with kale and cranberries.
  • See Crispy chickpea recipe for cooking instructions then generously add to salad bowl.
  • Whisk dressing ingredients and pour over salad.
  • add any optional toppings you want!

Red pepper and Garlic roasted chickpeas.

Crispy Chickpeas

Use as a snack or on a salad, chickpeas are a good source of manganese and folate. They are also a very good source of magnesium, iron, copper, potassium, and thiamin.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups canned chickpea 400 g, drained, rinsed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon black ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180˚C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine the chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt in a large bowl and toss to coat.
  • Transfer the chickpeas to the baking sheet and bake until golden and crisp, 40-45 minutes, shaking halfway through cooking.

Offseason Hand Eye Training

In every sport, there is some sort of task that an athlete must complete that requires some sort of hand eye coordination. Hand eye coordination is a skill that some people are better at than most, but at the same time that skill can definitely be trained to a higher level. Take a look at the “5 Major Sports North America Sports” Football, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer and Baseball. All these sport require an elite level of hand-eye coordination to either score in that sport, or to play defence in that sport! In this blog I’m going to give you a few cool ways to train hand eye to help with your ability to see and react to whatever is happening on the field or court in your sport!

Hand Eye coordination in athletes

Left Hand Training

This one is pretty straight forward! Most people have one dominate hand. For me I’m right handed and during the early part of my career I really struggle with my left hand. As a center in football I snapped with my right so I had to get better with my left hand as it was my first line of defence. So I started doing everything I could with my left hand; writing, opening jars and doors playing catch, before I knew it I had my left hand caught up with my right. Here the deal though, it has to be a constant effort. You cannot just do this for 2 months and have a great “offhand” it’s something that you must continually train or you will lose this skill you have gained!

One Handed Catch Training

Again another very straight forward drill, but extremely effective! Have someone throw you a tennis ball and catch it will one hand. The key to making this drill work best is to have the throw come at you on different angle, don’t just have the ball come straight at you as this isn’t realistic! This drill is really good for football and baseball guys. They have to make one handed catches all the time, so they should be constantly training that skill. One cool little way to make this drill harder is have the player who is catching the tennis ball slowly jog to the person who is throwing it; this will add different levels of depth perception that will help the hand eye!

Reaction Ball Drill

This is by far my favourite hand eye drill that I have in my tool box! There are two reasons why! Number 1; you can do this drill by yourself and number 2 the ball makes you react and move your feet instead of just standing in one place or jogging to a spot! Here is the drill; stand about five years away from the wall and throw the ball on a one hop at the wall and react and go catch it before the ball hits the ground! Seems simple right!!! It is but the great part is no two reps will be the same! The ball will always jump somewhere different! Below is a picture of the ball that I have, it’s a Nike product I used it for a long time and saw great results!

Off season is the time to get better! Come into the gym today to see how we can help you prepare for next season!!

Why Strength Training Is Vital For Basketball Players

The argument can be made that improvement in basketball requires a more diverse set of workouts than most any other sport. Successful players work regularly on agility, endurance, strength, flexibility, and coordination – to say nothing of specific skills and team practices. While endurance and skill work tend to win out as the biggest focal points for players looking to improve their games in totality though, we would contend that strength training should also be a major point of emphasis.

This is something we talk about with regard to football more often, with strength work representing an understood aspect of in-season training. This is only natural given the intense physicality of the sport. However, while a single basketball practice or game may not involve quite as much physicality as football, it can still be a grueling sport over the long term. A season, a summer of workouts, or even a full career can lead to enough wear and tear that, if you’ll forgive the cliché, only the strong survive.

This isn’t merely a suggestion from someone who values strength training though, nor is it the perspective of one coach. Rather, it’s an idea that’s regularly backed and exhibited by people at the top of the basketball world.

One example of this actually came very recently, in the form of an interview former All-Star Kevin Garnett gave with sportswriter and podcaster Bill Simmons. The main focus of the interview wound up being on some comments Garnett had about LeBron James but he offered some fascinating perspective on fitness as well. Garnett was never the bulkiest player in the game, but was known for toughness and endurance above all else. His lithe but rock-solid frame allowed him to impose his will upon heavier and more muscular opponents, making him an excellent person to advocate for strength training. In his interview, however, Garnett was actually speaking more to the strength of NBA legend and physical behemoth Shaquille O’Neal.

Confronting the common narrative that O’Neal occasionally payed out of shape, Garnett argued that his longtime opponent was actually bulking up intentionally earlier in seasons so that his body could withstand the gradual beating it would take over the course of half a year’s worth of games. Garnett was speaking specifically to the notion that basketball players need strength for the long term.

Another, more everyday example comes in the form of LeBron James, who may yet go down as the best player in the history of basketball. Right now most would still give that label to Michael Jordan, but the way James is still competing at the age of 34 indicates he still has time to establish the greatest legacy. Right now, people following the NBA have their clearest picture ever of what the data hawks and oddsmakers believe will happen in the league, thanks to the relatively new presence of U.S.-based bookies online. These bookies post odds for NBA action day in and day out, on the basis of information compiled by betting and gambling experts who are not just watching, but conducting thorough analysis of league activity.

Look to these online bookies and their NBA odds right now, and you’ll see the Lakers – led by LeBron James – favored in most of their games. The same bookies also show the Lakers as league-wide favorites (or perhaps co-favorites with their cross-town rival Clippers). How this factors into the strength discussion is simple: Look at LeBron James’s physique. He’s a famed physical specimen who works incredibly hard to maintain muscle and keep his body primed for long seasons, lengthy playoff runs, and all the attrition that goes with them. The online bookies are different from the fans (who widely admire James and generally want him to keep winning). They actually analyze the game to compile betting odds, and they’ve determined that a player who by all rights ought to be worn down and physically exhausted is still dominant enough to lead a title favorite. More than perhaps any other conceivable example, this speaks to the benefits of strength training for basketball players over time.

As a final example though, and perhaps a broader point toward development in younger players, we’d also point out that even the USA Basketball organization appears to openly value strength training. To backtrack somewhat, we’ll note that one reason a lot of basketball players neglect strength training is that they’re concerned it will negatively affect skills. For instance, a lot of players think that strengthening their arms or adding upper-body bulk will alter their shooting form.

USA Basketball included these ideas among its myths about basketball training. The program suggested that there’s no actual evidence for strength impacting shooting form, and argued that players serious about improving can work on shooting and strength training at the same time, and enjoy improvement with both facets.

Based on all of these examples and arguments, we’d support the idea that strength training is vital for developing basketball players. Building muscle may not be the only thing that’s important to work on, but it can help a player withstand a long, physical season or an active career, and it won’t get in the way of other aspects of the game.

Lamb meatballs with mint pesto.

Lamb Meatballs with Mint Pesto

Rich and flavourful, a great alternative to your standard meatball.
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb ground lamb turkey or chicken
  • 1 tsp. each of sea salt pepper, garlic powder, oregano
  • 1 egg whisked
  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • Pesto:
  • 2 packed cups of mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Instructions
 

  • Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Combine lamb and spices in a mixing bowl. Add in egg & stir in evenly. Form mixture into golf ball-sized pieces. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 mins. Serve with mint pesto.
  • Pesto: Pulse mint & walnuts in food processor. Add oil, lemon juice, lemon zest & salt. Blend until smooth.

Notes

You can also replace the Lamb with TVP (textured vegetable protein) 

Why Flashy Footwork, Agility Ladders, and Sprint Mechanic Drills are MOSTLY A Waste of Time

One of the most common pieces of equipment sport coaches and strength and conditioning coaches love to use are agility ladders… but why? Mostly people love to use them because they are very portable (can take to practice, use on the field), easy to set up and requires little instruction to demonstrate patterns for athletes to go through. But is this a reason for using them?

            While agility ladders and footwork drills do have their place for building general coordination and foot speed in younger athletes (or as part of a warm-up), for developing athletic multi-planar speed and power, they are largely a waste of time and our efforts can be better spent elsewhere. I would even argue for soccer (the sport where foot speed is probably the most important) they are largely a waste of time as through practice for their sport they will build these foot speed skills that are more specific to their sport and learning agility ladder patterns is not going to improve this further.

            I would even go on to say a lot of drills commonly used by coaches that work on foot speed are also a waste of time. If we are wanting our athletes to get faster, the number one thing that can be done do to improve their speed is to have them run FAST!!! The more practice our athletes get at accelerating, changing direction, and reaching and maintaining maximal velocity the better off they will be.

            Another common thing I see in coaching is to spend hours on sprint mechanics and track and field type drills. While I believe these have their place (in warm-up; extra work sessions) we must remember that our field sport athletes are NOT sprinters. While we can use these drills to work on some of their MAJOR deficiencies in sprinting form, we must remember that some of the running styles and techniques develop from their sport and help them to perform at their best.  

            While there are techniques we can use when getting our athletes to run fast such as resisted sprinting, sprinting with sleds etc. sometimes simplicity is key when it comes to getting our athletes faster! We combine our speed training with plyometric and resistance training exercises specialized for our athlete’s sports and position, keeping in mind the work to rest ratios used in their sport. Keep in mind, we can’t do speed training if we are tired! To run fast and do proper speed training this involves FULL recovery. So, when coaches are doing endless conditioning drills just remember this also is not training SPEED.

            Bottom line, to get our athletes faster we run… and we run FAST!!! We love to use reactionary drills to mimic the sporting environment, and to add competition to our drills to push our athletes to their fullest potential. Athletes want to compete, and you get the best out of them when they are doing just that, competing!

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