Hi, I'm Flavia. I have always been connected to fitness, but like most people, there comes a time when you find yourself less than your personal ideal. In my mid 20s I decided to make a change and discovered that most workout plans were designed for men.
As a Registered Nurse I had a solid knowledge base of nutrition and how food works in the body. I improved that knowledge by studying more about nutrition with Dr. John Berardi and developed my own exercise and nutrition program called Falvilicious Fitness.
You can read more about my workout programs on my exercises for women blog, and you can get a lot of free information right here on tumblr.
Flavia Del Monte, RN, CPT, PN Certified
There is so much confusion about what to and what not to eat post-workout. The important thing to remember is that women fitness nutrition in general needs some clear and factual intelligence to make overall health better. If the other meals of the day are not executed properly, you will not achieve your goals from your workout. Women have different nutrition needs than men. Learning what to eat and when to eat it is an important part in learning to how to live a fit and healthy lifestyle. My goal is to provide healthy options for your diet while still being delicious.
The foods we choose to refuel our body post-exercise is vital in meeting our body’s needs.
Let’s make some sense of this confusing topic by discussing the main reasons why we workout. For me, and I think I speak on behalf of MOST of the world’s population, there are 3 main reasons to exercise:
We need to focus on what our body experiences during exercise in order to determine what nutrients are needed for the body. During an intense workout, we are breaking down muscle tissue (protein breakdown), essentially damaging the tissues. This sounds bad, but this is actually what makes us lean and muscular, stronger and fitter. But this damage needs to be repaired and the muscle rebuilt (protein synthesis).
Essentially, post-workout women fitness nutrition needs to do 3 things:
Muscle building occurs when our body receives a positive protein balance during recovery. Protein synthesis is triggered (while protein breakdown is suppressed) when consuming the right type of nutrients after exercise. Let’s also remember that our body depletes stored carbohydrates (glycogen) during exercise, which need to be refilled, meaning our body NEEDS protein and carbohydrates post-workout.
During exercise and post-exercise, our blood circulates more rapidly to our muscle, especially the muscles being trained. If we strategically put the nutrients needed for building and repair into our bloodstream at the right times, our body will effectively be able to recover and replenish more efficiently.
This brings us to the “window” of opportunity. During this window, our muscles are primed to accept nutrients that can stimulate muscle repair and growth. Research suggests this window is opened immediately after a workout. While protein synthesis lasts for up to 4 hours, our body will receive the most benefit from nutrients within two hours after exercises. If you wait too long to refuel your body, a decrease in glycogen storage and protein synthesis occurs.
So What Should I Eat?
Let’s recall what it is that we are trying to achieve with post-workout women fitness nutrition:
This tells us we need carbohydrates to replenish and protein to prevent further breakdown and promote rebuilding.
FUN FACT: Rosemary may decrease the presence of harmful fats that form during cooking
This recipe is perfect for after a workout because it contains protein and carbohydrates. Try them this week and let me know below what you think!
I cannot lay claim to this recipe. I found it a few months back in Oxygen magazine and finally tried it. It rocks!
Turkey Flaxseed Muffins
What you need:
BUILD AND REPAIR FOR A PROPER WOMEN FITNESS NUTRITION PLAN!
Because our window is small, we need to ensure we have quick digesting carbohydrates and quick digesting protein post-workout for women fitness nutrition. Sources such as isolates and dextrose, or a recovery drink, are best taken at this time. You can make your own recovery drink with protein powder and dextrose or stick to whole foods such as fish and white rice. Whole foods digest slowly, which is why most fitness enthusiasts choose liquid post-workout over whole foods.
We want to continue to take advantage of the two-hour “window”, and therefore consume whole foods within two hours of exercising. Because we are still in prime building and repairing mode, we again want to have a quick digesting protein and some form of carbohydrates. I choose to eat complex carbohydrates here as I have already replenished my glycogen stores with a recovery drink and want to ensure I am not consuming too many calories that will in turn be stored as fat.
**Start with 30 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of protein for a recovery meal immediately following your workout.
Forgetting to properly fuel your body is a detrimental step in your women fitness nutrition plan. It can set you back and hinder your progress. If you want to be the best you, you will remember the tips I have suggested and start implementing them right away into your women fitness nutrition plan for optimal results.
One of the hardest things to do is plan entire meals that are healthy. I provide easy to follow recipes and meal plan ideas to help make it easier for you to stay on your fitness diet while still having tasty food.
In a solid woman fitness program, consideration needs to be taken into many key components. Workouts are only one area. Another would be diet. Along with diet is the idea of introducing detoxifying your body. After detoxing it is important to have a plan in place to protect your body from down time in your women fitness program.
Toxicity is a major problem in our society today. In the year 2001 alone, more than six billion pollutants were released into the environment. Over the course of a lifetime, we will be exposed to thousands of foreign compounds.
Where Toxins Are Found?
Toxins procure from heavy metals, chemical pollutants, pesticides, cigarette smoke, food preservatives, drugs, alcohol and even within our own intestines when unhealthy bacteria is present.
How Do Toxins Enter Our Body?
Toxins can enter our body through the food we eat, the air we breathe, and directly through our skin. To make matters worse, the majority of our population relies on unhealthy food, lacking the nutrients to fuel the body to remove or detoxify these pollutants.
Why Does This Matter?
There has been correlation between a number of symptoms and conditions in relation to toxin exposures. Migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia to name a few.
How Can Our Body Remove Toxins?
Healthy Functioning Organs
Detoxification refers to the body’s ability to transfer and eliminate toxins. Only water-soluble substances can be effectively removed from the body. Toxic compounds are customarily stored as fatty molecules and therefore do not dissolve easily in water.
The body therefore has the job of transforming these fat-soluble compounds into water -soluble compounds in order for the body to excrete.
When the liver is working properly, the liver takes toxins and accumulated wastes that have built up in the blood and helps in their elimination.The liver is the main poison control organ in the body. It breaks down virtually everything toxic to the body, from metabolic wastes, pesticides, drugs and alcohol, to industrial and food processing chemicals. Failure of liver function will usually cause death in twelve to twenty-four hours.
Once the compounds are water-soluble, they can be removed from the body via the kidneys and/or in bile/feces through the intestines. An alkaline environment is a key factor for proper functioning kidneys. This is where nutrition plays an important role.
*The liver is responsible for metabolizing fat. If the liver is not functioning adequately, your body will not be able to metabolize fat and will thus store it.
Unhealthy Functioning Organs
Toxins and poisons formed internally, leak through the unhealthy intestine and to the liver. From there the toxins are not completely detoxified through the unhealthy liver. Toxins are then recirculated in the blood and may contribute to long-term health issues. The unchanged fat-soluble toxins leave the liver and store themselves in tissues such as brain, nervous system and fat.
Detoxification is heavily dependent on nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Here is a list that will improve and maintain detoxification in our body:
Key point is to ensure you are eating your vegetables, 8 to 10 servings a day for optimal organ functioning. When supplementing with a multivitamin, ensure they contain the vitamins listed above. Most multi-vitamins contain the essential ingredients needed for adequate levels.
If you need a good, trustworthy product, Prograde VGF 25+ for woman is what I use and love. It can be found here: prograde.com
Immunity Fighting Agents to Protect Women Fitness Programs
Garlic for Healing
My dad used to eat a whole clove of garlic every night before hitting the sack. He said it helped boost his immune system. Europeans are so smart with their remedies. It so happens that garlic is called a “herbal wonder drug”. This is because garlic is a natural broad-spectrum antibiotic. It is also a powerful antioxidant helping to protect the body against free-radicals.
Oil of Oregano for Fighting Illness
Not to be confused with the spice, the oil is extracted from wild oregano plants.
It is known for:
Vitamin C to Fight Infection
Vitamin C is one of the most well-known, cost-effective and universally beneficial antioxidants known to man. This vitamin encourages beautiful skin, helps boost the immune system and aids in the prevention of several types of cancer. Other benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease and even skin wrinkling.
What can be indicators for a need for more high-vitamin C foods?
Excellent sources of vitamin C include: parsley, broccoli, bell pepper, strawberries, oranges, lemon juice, papaya, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens and brussels sprouts. .
Zinc for Overall Health
Zinc supplements help in decreasing the severity and duration of cold illness. It reduces the amount of pro-inflammatory cytokinesis, which is aggravated during the cold infections. This antioxidant also helps with wound healing, boosts immunity and protects against the infectious disorders and fungal infections, which includes pneumonia and conjunctivitis.
Ginseng for Stimulating the Immune System
Ginseng is the main ingredient in Cold FX that helps reduce the frequency, severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms by boosting the immune system. This herb is known for stimulating the immune and nervous system, reducing fatigue, reducing stress and anxiety and helps in treating diabetes.
Water for Nutrient Absorption and Transportation
Drinking plenty of water during an illness literally flushes the system. Water will help regulate body temperature and will transport nutrients and oxygen into the cells for healing. Water also helps organs to absorb nutrients better.
Drinking tea may help your body’s immune system fight off infection and contains many antioxidants, reducing cancer, heart attack and stroke risks. Tea will also keep you hydrated.
Veggies or Greens Drinks
This is a no-brainer, but to stress the importance of vegetables, vegetables prevent illness, disease and are powerful antioxidants. Vitamins also help to neutralize the acid-base balance in the body. An acidic environment is host to many diseases due to inflammation.
As you can see the implementation of a detox routine and immunity fighting agents is one of the best ways to protect your women fitness program and set yourself up for success.
When want to lose weight, you need to watch what you eat. No surprise there, but what’s good for you and what isn’t good for you can get pretty confusing. Some say you should eat certain things, while other experts tell you to avoid them. Carbohydrates are a good example.
Should you consume carbohydrates? Can they help with weight loss for women? Absolutely. In fact, your body needs carbs throughout the entire day.
Why We Need Carbs
Energy is vital. Your body needs it to move, create/maintain body heat, and develop. Your brain and nervous system need a constant supply of glucose, too. And carbohydrates are one of the best sources of energy. However, you need to consider balance — not getting enough carbohydrates can be just as bad as (if not worse than) consuming too many.
To be as lean as possible, you need the right amount of carbs, at the right time, from the right sources. The American Dietetic Association recommends a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrates daily. Of course, how many carbs you need will depend on your size, activity level, and micronutrient intake. So, if you’re petite and extremely active, for example, you’ll need more than 130 grams.
Best of all, leanness acquired this way is sustainable. If you gain a few extra pounds, you can get back into shape in no time with just a few tweaks to your diet. You do need to be careful, however. Not enough carbs in your diet, and your body will start converting lean muscle mass to energy, preventing you from getting a six-pack and toning up. You’ll become weak and might even start feeling ill.
When to Eat Carbohydrates for the Best Weight Loss for Women
While your body needs carbohydrates for energy, it’s not made of them. Therefore, any carbs your body doesn’t use for energy and repairing muscle tissue will be turned straight into fat. If you want to make sure your body uses carbs instead of storing them, eat these foods only after a workout, when your body needs them the most.
For the maximum weight loss for women, carbs should be included in the second meal of the day. This way, you can save your first meal of the day for proteins and fats that will help your body regulate hormones.
The Best Sources of Carbohydrates
Brown Rice — Brown rice is a great source of easy-to-digest carbohydrates, but that’s not all. It’s an excellent source of dietary fiber that helps you stay regular and flush toxins from your body. It also contains CoQ10 (which turns fat into energy and protects your heart) and gammaoryzanol, which is a muscle-strengthening antioxidant that turns fat into lean body mass.
Quinoa — A seedy relative of the popular leafy green veggie spinach, quinoa is an instant energy source and complete protein. It’s also a healthy source of fiber, calcium, and the amino acid lycine, which encourages tissue growth and repair. Its high amounts of magnesium, folate, and phosphorus help prevent and ease migraines, improve heart health, and keep your cardiovascular system in tip-top shape. Studies have found it may also help ward off certain types of cancers, gallstones, and childhood asthma.
Steel Cut Oats — Because steel cut oats are lower on the glycemic index than regular oats, they’re great for weight loss for women, since they won’t causes spikes in your blood glucose levels. They’re also high in protein and fiber.
Sweet Potato — The carbs, beta-carotene, and fiber found in sweet potatoes make them a great anti-inflammatory food that speeds healing and reduces pain and stiffness in your muscles and joints.
Potatoes — Potatoes contain easy-to-breakdown carbohydrates, but they also contain high levels of B6. This vitamin is a vital ingredient in the formation of new cells, as well as amino acid (the building blocks of protein) synthesis.
Lentils — The complex carbs found in lentils increase your energy levels by replenishing your iron, but they’re also slow burning, which helps sustain energy levels. And, because they’re so high in fiber, they limit spikes in your blood sugar levels that often occur after eating a meal.
Beans — Just like lentils, kidney beans are rich in fiber to prevent sharp increases in blood sugar levels and control your cholesterol. They also replenish your iron and supply you with protein, giving you an excellent boost of energy. The molybdenum found in kidney beans help your body deal with sulphites, a preservative often added to prepared foods.
Gluten-Free Cereals and Breads — Wheat contains gluten, which is often the trigger for digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and joint problems. So, not only do you suffer with uncomfortable symptoms, but you also end up with inflammation, which causes you to retain water and gain weight. But, by eliminating gluten and substituting wheat with foods like millet, brown rice, sprouted grains, quinoa, and buckwheat, you can eliminate these negative side effects and quickly drop those hard-to-lose pounds.
Carbohydrates have really gotten a bad reputation when it comes to dieting and weight loss for women, but you shouldn’t eliminate them from your diet. Instead, eat the right carb-containing foods, at the right time, and finally shed those hard-to-lose pounds that have been staring back at you.
The foods we choose to refuel our body with post-exercise are vital to meeting our body’s needs. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion surrounding women’s fitness diet plans, leaving most of us unsure of what to eat and not eat post-workout.
The important thing to remember is that nutrition needs clear, factual information, common sense, and diligence if you want to make your overall health better. If the other meals of the day are not executed properly, you won’t achieve your workout goals.
What Happens When We Workout
Let’s make some sense of this confusing topic by discussing why we workout. For me, (and I think I speak on behalf of MOST of the population), there are 3 main reasons to exercise:
So, if you want your women’s fitness diet to contain the right nutrients your body needs after a workout, we need to focus on what our body experiences during exercise. During an intense workout, we break down muscle tissue (protein breakdown), essentially damaging the tissues.
This sounds bad, but this process is what actually makes us leaner, fitter, stronger and more muscular. However, this damage still needs to be repaired and the muscle rebuilt (protein synthesis).
Essentially, a women’s fitness diet needs to do 3 things:
Muscle building occurs when our body reaches a positive protein balance during recovery. Consuming the right type of nutrients after exercise triggers protein synthesis (while protein breakdown is suppressed).
Our body also depletes its carbohydrate levels (glycogen) during exercise, which need to be refilled. This means our body NEEDS protein and carbohydrates post-workout.
During exercise and post-exercise, our blood circulates more rapidly, especially through the muscles being trained. If we strategically put the nutrients it needs into our bloodstream at the right times, our bodies will be able to recover and replenish more efficiently.
Post-Workout Nutrition For A Women’s Fitness Diet
This brings us to the “window” of opportunity, which occurs immediately after a workout. During this timeframe, our muscles are primed to accept the nutrients that can stimulate muscle repair and growth.
While protein synthesis lasts for up to 4 hours, our body will receive the most benefits from nutrients consumed within two hours of exercising. Wait too long to refuel your body, however, and you’ll experience a decrease in glycogen storage and protein synthesis.
So What Should I Eat?
Let’s recall what it is that we are trying to achieve with post-workout nutrition:
This tells us we need carbohydrates to replenish our energy levels, and protein to prevent further breakdown and promote rebuilding.
Because our window is small, we need to consume quick digesting carbohydrates and quick digesting protein post-workout. Sources such as isolates, dextrose, or a recovery drink are best.
Whole foods digest slowly, which is why most fitness enthusiasts choose liquid post-workout over whole foods. If you do choose whole foods, opt for ones that are quick to absorb like fish and white rice. Just make sure to take advantage of the two-hour “window”.
Because we are still in prime building and repairing mode during that time, include quick digesting protein and some form of carbohydrates in your women’s fitness diet. I choose to eat complex carbohydrates here as I have already replenished my glycogen stores with a recovery drink and want to ensure I am not consuming too many calories that will just be stored as fat.
The amino acids in protein help rebuild muscle tissue after exercise, but protein releases the fat burning hormone glucagon, which is the opposite of the fat storage hormone insulin. It also regulates blood sugar, so be sure to eat protein at each meal. When you combine carbohydrates with protein, the protein will stabilize blood sugars that instinctually rise due to the insulin release from the carbohydrates.
So how much is enough? Well, I suggest you start with 30 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of protein for a recovery meal, immediately following your workout.
Post-Workout Protein Shakes and Protein Types
Post-workout shakes are not NEEDED, but they’ll help with recovery and muscle building. Protein powder is convenient and cost-effective option. It’s great for before and after your workouts, and also as a meal replacement. Because proteins have different uses, however, you’ll need to select different types of protein supplementation for each one.
Soy protein comes directly from the only plant-based food to contain a complete protein: soybeans. However, it does have more fat and takes longer to absorb. On the bright side, it’s excellent for supplying your muscles with a steady supply of protein throughout the day. It also contains isoflavones, which promote health cholesterol levels.
Hemp protein is derived from hemp seeds. It contains approximately 50% less protein than whey, but it does contain omega-3 fatty acids to boost heart health. This type of protein powder is best used for morning drinks and between meal snacks, rather than for post workout recovery. It’s also a suitable alternative for those sensitive or intolerant to milk products.
Whey protein, from cow’s milk, is a by-product left over when making cheese. It’s 31% more effective at building muscle than soy, and is considerably more effective at stimulating protein synthesis compared to other proteins, but you need to be careful when buying.
Lower quality whey powder has high fat and dietary cholesterol levels. It’s also the fastest-absorbing protein powder types, making it the best of the three for recovery, growth, and maintenance after workouts.
Post-Workout Nutrition For A Women s Fitness Diet — Whey Protein
If you’ve looked around, you’ll have noticed three types of whey protein supplements:
Whey Protein Isolate — With almost no carbs, lactose, or fat content, this is the highest quality powder available. In fact, 90% or more of its weight will be protein. It is also the most efficient of the proteins — 30-60% more efficient than concentrate.
Whey Protein Concentrate — The cheapest whey supplement, concentrate is high in fat and lactose. It has the highest biological value, and is about 75% protein by weight.
Whey Protein Blends — A mixture of concentrate and isolate, this provides you with a lower fat and lactose content, while still being affordable. Blends also have a great amino acid profile.
If you’re looking for a post-workout protein shake, choose whey isolate for its protein synthesis (building) effect. It may be more expensive, but it rapidly releases amino acids into blood stream and gets into the blood quicker, which is exactly what you need immediately after a workout. It peaks after about 40 minutes, and lasts about an hour.
Micellar-Isolate Protein Powder (milk casein) is the highest quality form of protein powder.
Called a ‘muscle-sparing’ protein, casein releases much more slowly in the body, causing a steady release of amino acids into the blood, over a longer period of time. Research has identified higher levels of amino acids in the blood can last up to seven hours and peak three to four hours after consumption.
But, this type of supplementation is unnecessary if you’re getting enough complete proteins throughout the day. Instead, use this type of protein powder to replace a whole food protein, or before going to sleep to combat catabolism. Look for milk protein isolates that have around 80% micellar casein and 20% whey.
A fast-digesting protein, such as white fish is a better pre-workout protein. And for breakfast, supplement with whey protein to combat the muscle breakdown (catabolism) that may occur due to the fasting that occurs while sleeping. Again, a better option here is fast-digesting protein (eggs).
Remember that what you eat and when you eat is just as important as the details of your specially designed workouts for women. Create a women’s fitness diet that best suits you and meets the needs of your workout. You’ll not only look better, and get improved results, but you’ll feel better, too.