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It does not matter as much how hard you train, as it matters how well you “refuel” your body post-workout session. In order to get the desired results from your training- be it the sculpted, toned body you are looking for or getting fitter & stronger is your goal- what you eat following exercise is crucial and can have a major impact on your results.

Why is “Recovery Nutrition” important?

Post a workout, your body is in a catabolic state (process of breakdown) because of many biochemical, metabolic & hormonal changes that has taken place during the exercise. It has depleted its muscle glycogen reserves (body’s stored fuel), the catabolic hormone cortisol has been on a surge & then there are the free radicals (chemically unstable molecules) that have been generated during the exercise. The good news is that this presents an “anabolic window of opportunity” Anabolism refers to the process of building up. By consuming proper nutrients post-workout, you will be able to arrest further muscle breakdown, initiate the re-synthesis of fuel reserves, initiate the rebuilding of damaged tissue, bring down cortisol levels, accelerate removal of metabolic by products (lactic acid, CO2). Hence, having a post-workout fuelling strategy in place is extremely important for improvements in both body composition (fat loss) and exercise performance, faster recovery, preventing fatigue and resisting injury.

What is “Recovery Nutrition”?

Insulin sensitivity is heightened immediately after exercise, which means that ideally you should consume your post-workout meal as soon as you finish your workout. The quicker you feed your body, the better nutrient delivery to the muscles and more nutrient & glucose uptake by them to utilize for repair. Another physiological effect of exercise is the immediate increase in the blood flow to the muscles. Hence, the delivery of protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals, water etc. is also enhanced, resulting in greater muscle protein synthesis.

But since we live in a ‘real’ world v/s an ‘ideal’ one, it may be possible that at times, you are unable to consume your post-workout meal immediately after cooling down at the gym (for e.g. some day you may be rushed for office) Then know that, all is not lost. The “anabolic window of opportunity” lasts for at least a couple of hours following exercise so if not right after workout, do make sure you take in the nutrients as soon as you can!

The “Recovery Nutrition” comprises of the four R’s backed by exercise physiologists all over the world, which are-

1. Rehydrate It is crucial to make up for the loss of fluids and electrolytes as your body is in a dehydrated state post-workout. Among other health benefits, staying properly hydrated will help your body be better able to deliver the nutrients that your cells and muscles need in order to repair themselves.

The bottom line: Ensure you have water post exercise and also later through the day. The best way to check if you are having enough water is to look for your urine colour- should be crystal clear, not cloudy. Caffeine has shown to disrupt post-exercise insulin action, thereby impairing your body’s ability to replenish glycogen stores and utilize protein for muscular repair. Hence, if you do want to indulge in your cup of coffee or tea, wait for a couple of hours after your workout.

2.Replenish One of the primary goals post-exercise is to replenish glycogen reserves (stored carbohydrate in muscle & liver) that gets depleted during training.

Post-workout, you should consume carbohydrates that come from simple, high-glycemic sources so that they can quickly do its job. They will break down quickly in your gut, sending a surge of sugar into your bloodstream and raising your blood glucose which in turn, will spike insulin levels. Since insulin has both anabolic and anti-catabolic functions, it will accelerate protein synthesis, inhibit protein breakdown, and shuttle glycogen into cells. And this is one instance where elevated insulin won’t promote increases in body fat. Because your muscles & liver are literally starved, nutrients will tend to be used for muscle building & repair rather than fat storage.

Other than being high GI, carbs that you consume should be light and easy to digest so that it does not overload the gastro-intestinal system, disrupting the blood flow to the worked-out muscles.

Some research shows that carbohydrate-rich foods containing a combination of glucose and fructose is ideal, here. This is because glucose is converted to muscle glycogen, whereas fructose preferentially replenishes liver glycogen (glucose is of limited utility to the liver, a phenomenon called the “glucose paradox”). Thus, the two types of sugar work in synergy to replenish the glycogen stores of the body.

The bottom line: Include a variety of carbohydrates post-exercise. Few good choices are sugarcane juice, banana, boiled potato, potato sandwich.

3.Recover The other main nutritional objective post-workout is to supply sufficient amino acids (protein) for muscle tissue repair. If protein intake is sub-optimal following training, recovery is hampered and results are compromised. When amino acids are consumed following training, protein synthesis increases, optimizing the development of lean muscle tissue. Increase in lean muscle tissue is important for fat loss, change in body composition and improved exercise performance.

Protein should preferably be in the form of a high-biological value (BV) protein powder, that which is easy to digest and readily available, absorbed & assimilated in the body. A fast-acting protein such as whey works best. Because it is rapidly assimilated, whey reaches your muscles quickly, thereby expediting repair. The BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) in whey protein keeps the insulin sensitive and boosts your immunity, amongst many other things.

The bottom line: Once you have had your carb-rich food, have a whey protein shake mixing whey protein powder in water.

4.Revitalize Make sure to incorporate key vitamins and minerals in your post-workout meal that will help to recover and repair faster. Antioxidants is of prime importance here as it will negate the free radical effect of exercise that interferes with body’s recovery mechanism. Important antioxidants are Vit C, Vit E, Vit A, and minerals Selenium, Zinc, Chromium. Apart from its antioxidant effect, these minerals also have an insulin-like effect thus accelerating the anabolism process post workout.

The bottom line: Take separate vitamin supplements (of A, C, E) along with a supplement of Zinc, Selenium, Chromium with your post work-out meal.

Plan your post-workout meals right and get incredible results from your workout! Stay fit, stay young!

NOTE: This article was written by me for MyBeautyGym.Com & was published on 18th August 2017.

 

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Functional Fitness Training - Myths and Facts
NOTE- This article was written by me for Franchise India & was published on 17th August 2017. Read on…

The latest buzzword in the fitness industry- “Functional Fitness” has caught on with all the gym enthusiasts. With more and more people using Functional Training, it is definitely the most hyped workout craze today. But what does the term “Functional Fitness Training” really mean?

What is Functional Fitness Training?

Functional as the word suggests is Practical, Useful, Occupational, Utilitarian. To have more strength, stamina, efficiency in your daily movements is essentially what Functional Fitness is. The ability to do everyday tasks – walking the stairs, carrying groceries, lifting luggage at the airport, picking up your baby off the floor- without becoming fatigued. Functional Fitness Training, thereby, involves exercises that have a high carryover to work & daily living activities.

Looking at exercises as “Functional” and “Non-functional”? – What does research say?

A lot of concepts are being promoted as to how to achieve fitness that is functional which are unfortunately, not in sync with the scientific study & research papers. Let us dispel some of the popular myths & delve into the facts of Functional v/s Non-Functional Training.

Myth 1# Exercise Machines are “non-functional” training implements

It is widely accepted that lifting a certain amount of weight in an idealized posture created by a gym machine does not focus on building a body capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions.

Exercise Machines are “non-functional” training implements

Fact 1 # A study to evaluate the effects of strength training on functional capability recruited elderly people (90 years & above) and trained them exclusively on a leg extension machine, three days/ week. After eight weeks of resistance machine training, the subjects increased their lower body strength by 175% and their functional scores on a test of walking and balance improved by approximately 48%. Out of the ten participants, two of them were also able to walk without the assistance of their canes!

Though dismissed by functional training proponents as “non-functional”, the study shows that exercise machine training does improve functional performance enormously. Central to the design of any fitness program is the principle of specificity, hence free weights will tend to promote better results because they more closely approximate the way functional tasks are performed. But working out on exercise machines also result in functional improvements big time.

Another important point is that for those who are starting out with a low fitness level and/or are deconditioned, may be machine training is all that is required to sufficiently improve their efficiency of carrying out activities of daily living (ADL), thereby improving their functionality. Using principles of exercise science- Structured, Scientific, Progressive, they could then be gradually introduced to free weights exercise that would challenge their body in three-dimensional space.

Therefore, it can be misleading to refer to exercise as either “functional” or “non-functional”. As a matter of fact, there is no exercise that is “non-functional”. Some exercises could be more functional than others depending on the individual, his fitness level, his goals and his functional task requirements.

Myth 2# Unstable surface training increases functional fitness

Unstable surface training involves training that uses implements like BOSU, wobble boards, foam rollers, stability balls, balance discs etc. The idea is to induce instability using these devices during workouts. Exercising on unstable surfaces challenge neuromuscular pattern, and hence they are thought to produce greater improvements in functional performance.

Myth 2# Unstable surface training increases functional fitness

Fact 2# The majority of the population hitting the gym for functional training are everyday people with very modest task requirements. Their goals usually vary from weight loss to staying healthy and looking fit.

Also, what we need to remember is that during our work or daily life, most of all our tasks are conducted on stable surfaces- stable terrain, roads, floors, table, desks etc. Therefore, applying the principle of specificity, it makes sense to train mostly on stable surfaces as it will lead to maximal and optimal functional transfer- the most benefit for daily use.

Also, the loss of ability to perform everyday tasks is primarily due to loss of muscle strength. Therefore, simply increasing our muscle strength will promote better functional capacity. Stable surface training (for e.g. bench press) increases strength to a greater degree than comparable exercises performed on unstable surfaces (for e.g. chest press on a stability ball), thereby making a strong case for prioritizing stable surface to unstable one, from a functional standpoint.

Though research shows benefits of unstable surface training in rehabilitation of injuries & in core training, there are studies done that conclude that for general population & athletes, functional improvements are best achieved when a majority of training is carried out on stable surfaces.

Hence, choosing to work out on a particular equipment or with a particular device is not about being “functional” or not, but exercise routines & choice of equipment should be largely matched to an individual’s needs, abilities, requirements and goals.

Summary

Bottom line is that we need to put an end to categorizing exercises as “functional” or “non-functional” and realize that for most practical purposes all exercises can produce improvements in functional abilities. No exercise is bad. Each exercise is composed of “bio-motor” or “life-movement” abilities. These “bio-motor” abilities are strength, power, endurance, flexibility, coordination, balance, agility and speed. Its about taking a broad base approach & adhering to a well rounded & comprehensive training routine depending on task requirements, functional goals, individual current abilities, needs etc. This may be achieved through any type (or combination) of resistance training, whether it be machines, cables, balls, bands, body weight or free weights and anything that is going to deliver the desired results, using the principles of science- Specificity, Structured, Scientific and Progressive.

REFERENCES:

1. “Functional Fitness”: For Real or Just Fantasy? – American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

2. Is Functional Training Really Functional?- Schoenfeld,B. ACSM Certified News

Image credit: Franchise India.com/ Google Images

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As Mumbai’s most-awaited annual sporting event is here, the city gears up to get, set, race this Sunday.

If you are taking on the challenge this year, have spent the last few months training in the plunging temperatures of winter, have probably got the gear too – then now don’t forget one last crucial part of your training plan: nutrition. Getting your diet spot on will not only help you shave minutes off your race time but will also help you recover better post run.

Day before the marathon (Pre-race day)

1. Top up your glycogen stores- ‘Hitting the wall’ or ‘bonking’ is every distance runner’s fear. Avoid the dreaded wall by ‘carb loading’ before the run to maximize your energy/ glycogen stores. Foods to include are aloo sandwich, peanut butter toast, fruits, fruit milkshakes, rawa idli, poha, chikki, fruit murraba etc.

2. Have a light dinner- Choose rice based options like curd rice, khichdi kadhi, pulao raita, varan bhaat etc.

3. Load up on fluids- Keep sipping on water especially towards the end of the day to make sure you are well hydrated for the early morning run the next day

4. No alcohol – From low blood sugars to poor performance to disturbed sleep, there’s too much cost of having alcohol a night before your run

5. Hit the bed early – Go to sleep an hour earlier than the usual bedtime the night (or a week) before the race

The Race day

The two main nutrition goals are to avoid dehydration and to avoid the mental and muscular fatigue that can be caused by inadequate fuel

Before the run

1. Make sure you don’t start your run without eating anything. Have a banana or few raisins on waking up and sip on some water

During the run

1. Take adequate fluids and NOT only when you are thirsty

2. Drinking too much and too fast is not comfortable for the stomach, slow down and sip patiently

3. Apart from water (sippers or pouches), keep nimbu sherbet with salt and sugar/glucose water/sports drinks/sports gels/electrolyte water. Have them only if it has suited you during your training. The race day is not the day to ‘try’ them

4. Keep high GI foods that will give instant energy like dates, raisins and bananas

After the run

Post your run, its important to recover well so that you bounce back to your normal training and work routine faster. Pay attention to the four Rs backed by exercise physiologists all over the world.

1. Refuel – Replenish your glycogen stores and make sure you eat within 30 mins of finishing your run. Options are aloo sandwich/ banana/ fruit

2. Repair- Take whey protein with your sandwich or fruit to aid muscle recovery/ repair. Two hours onwards post this, combinations like rice dal/ roti and egg/ cheese toast etc. work very well

3. Rehydrate- It is crucial to make up for the loss of fluids and electrolytes. Have nimbu sherbet/ nariyal paani/ buttermilk/ sugarcane juice/ fruit juice etc. liberally throughout the day

4. Revitalize- Make sure to incorporate key vitamins and minerals in your diet that will help to recover and repair faster. Have VitC and VitE post run and antioxidants towards the end of the day

Enjoy the run…All the best! #SCMM #MumbaiMarathon

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