One of the most common down falls I see in clinic is clients not eating correctly around their work outs. More often than not people aren’t consuming the correct food (at the right time) leading up to their exercise session, and on top of this are not refueling correctly once finished.
Generally, the rule of thumb goes like this. Pre workout fuel should be carbohydrate based to provide readily available energy for your session. The majority of the time this can be something as simple as a piece of fruit, say a banana (natures perfectly packaged exercise fuel). We certainly do not need large amounts of sugars found in energy drinks and sports drinks. For the majority of us these drinks provide a surplus amount of carbs. The idea is to use your snack (or meal) prior to your work out as your fuel. In most cases this is more than enough as shown in this review study (2013) discussing nutrient timing around exercise.
Post work out should always contain some carbohydrates to refuel your depleted blood glucose (and thus energy) along with some protein, especially if resistance training has occurred. Furthermore, its best to consume these post work out snacks or meals within the 30 minutes to an hour (at the latest) of finishing up your session, otherwise we start to get too fatigued.
There are plenty of studies theorising the correct ratio of protein to carbs, and the relevant timing of the intake of these macronutrients. I can say confidently from experience however that I’ts absolutely amazing to see clients get their nutrition right around training. Often just nailing the correct food intake around exercise is the key to kicking along weight loss and muscle tone that has plateaued. It is also often the key to seeing client’s energy levels pick up and sugar cravings alleviated.
When we consume the correct ratio of nutrients pre and post training this initiates the rebuilding of damaged muscle tissue and restoration of energy reserves, whilst enhancing both body composition and exercise performance for the future. Additionally, when we fuel our body correctly it is not left yearning for more energy later in the day in the form of quick, sugary snacks.
We are of course all different in our make up and needs, especially when it comes to exercise and the intensity that we decide to train at. Consuming large amounts of simple carbs and amino acids prior and after workouts is not the goal here. It is about using your meals wisely (consumed as part of your daily food intake), and maximising the key macronutrients (carbs, protein and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in these meals to gain maximum benefits.
As this 2013 research paper surmises, “For the goal of maximizing rates of muscle gain, these findings support the broader objective of meeting total daily carbohydrate need instead of specifically timing its constituent doses. Collectively, these data indicate an increased potential for dietary flexibility while maintaining the pursuit of optimal timing”.
Keeping the above in mind, you could choose to recharge your tired and depleted muscles after a work out with the ever popular (and definitely convenient) smoothie made with protein and carbohydrate based ingredients. However, you could also choose to fire up those muscle cells with this scrumptious protein pancake topped here with melted peanut butter, fresh passionfruit pulp and gooey fried banana. I know which option I prefer!
post workout protein pancake + how to eat around your exercise to gain the best results
- serves one
- preparation time
- 2 minutes
- cooking time
- 3 – 4 minutes or 6 -7 minutes with added fried banana
- 1 heaped dessertspoon plain protein powder (I used brown rice protein)
- 2 heaped dessertspoons of buckwheat flour (or oatmeal if gluten tolerant)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 small mashed banana (or 1 heaped dessertspoon of apple puree)
- 1 egg
- 1 dessertspoon rice syrup or honey
- plant milk of choice to bring to a thicker style batter
- // optional toppings to serve //
- 1 banana
- 1 heaped teaspoon of nut butter of choice
- 1 passionfruit
- 1 dessertspoon walnuts
- 1 dessertspoon goji berries
- barley malt for drizzling (or maple syrup or honey)
In a small mixing bowl combine the protein powder, buckwheat flour (or flour of choice) and baking powder. Make a little well in the center and mash in the banana with the back of a fork. Crack in the egg and then add in your rice syrup. Stir well till combined, then add in a splash of milk a little bit at a time until you reach a thick batter (similar to a cake batter).
Heat a small frying pan to medium heat and add a small amount of olive oil. Pour in your pancake batter and allow it to gently cook. Once bubbles begin to form on the top of the pancake you know it is time to flip it over. Once flipped, allow the underside to cook for a minute or two before removing from the heat.
If serving with the suggested toppings above, slice the banana down the center and then place it in the frying pan with a little bit more olive oil. Allow it to brown and caramelise on the underside, then carefully turn over and repeat.
When ready to eat, spoon the peanut butter on to the hot pancake, then top with the fried banana, passionfruit pulp, walnuts, goji berries and finish with a drizzle of barley malt.
ps. I also like to cut this pancake in half, smear it with peanut butter, honey and then add some chopped banana. I then wrap it in alfoil and take it with me to eat on the go after a work out.
- This protein pancake has a higher amino acid content than a normal pancake due to the addition of the protein powder in the flour mix. There is also amino acids available from the egg (around 5 – 6 grams of protein), although some of you may choose to omit this for dietary purposes. If that is the case I would suggest increase the protein powder slightly to compensate. In place of the egg you could use a chia egg (1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons of warm water).
- The heaped dessertspoon of protein powder in this pancake will provide around 12 – 15 grams of protein.
Jessica Cox is a qualified practicing Nutritionist with a Bachelor Health Science (Nutrition) and over 15 years of clinical experience. She is the founder and director JCN Clinic, published author and established recipe developer. Jessica is well respected within health and wellness space for her no fad approach and use of evidence-based nutrition.