Your quest for a trimmer stomach and better physique need not always end with a floury, post-workout shake. Optimise your workout gains (and satisfy your taste buds) by paying a visit to the hawker centre nearby. Brad Robinson, CEO of Ritual and himself an elite fitness trainer, dispels the myths associated with hawker food – and shows you how the mixed vegetable rice- and nasi padang stalls can feed your muscles right.
1. Myth: I need a post workout meal after every workout session.
Sorry dude. If all you did was bicep curls and brisk-walking on the treadmill, you really don’t need a proper post-workout meal – unless you want to ingest more calories than you’ve burnt off. What you do require, however, is some water to ensure that you’re hydrated – and an exercise regime that is a lot more intense.
2. Myth: I need to eat my post-workout meal immediately after I’m done exercising.
Unless you’re a professional bodybuilder who’s sculpting showman muscles, there is no need to wolf down your food 30 minutes – or one- , two- or four hours, for that matter – after you’re done in the gym. For the average dude, muscle catabolism – the body feeding on its own muscle because of the lack of suitable nutrients – is less of a concern. What you should be more concerned about: Getting a good exercise plan and making smart food choices when it’s time for your next meal. Still, if you cannot operate without a number, go for two hours.
3. Myth: I can eat all I want after a tough workout.
Your body is begging for muscle-building nutrients after a hard workout, and it probably won’t find much of that from char kway teow or roti prata. And since we’re on the topic of pig-outs, how sure are you that you’ve depleted enough of your reserves to deserve such a feast? (If you’re still pondering over this question, you probably didn’t do enough intervals.)
4. Myth: For my muscles to receive maximum benefits, I should eat mostly protein in my post-workout meal.
5. Myth: I should avoid carbs in my post-workout meal. They make me fat.
Carbs aren’t the enemy – you just need to know when to use them. And there’s no better time to eat carbs than after an exercise session. There’s little chance of your body storing them as fats because the carbs are being channelled to help with muscle recovery and energy (or glycogen) replenishment.
6. Myth: White rice is a big no-no in post-workout nutrition.
Post workout, you can’t do wrong with a small bowl of white rice – a simple, fast-digesting type of carbohydrate which gives your tired body an instant energy boost. Because such carbs are broken down and used so quickly by the body, very little of them get turned into flab – meaning you stay leaner. The opposite is true of low GI, complex carbs, such as lentils and beans. Because they are digested so slowly, there’s a greater risk of them being converted into fats.
While you’re doing a good job keeping deep-fried meat (and those soaked in rich gravy) off your plate, there’s probably another insidious protein source you aren’t paying enough attention to – tofu. The potential hormonal fallout from eating soy-based products – some studies show that soy affects sperm quality and testosterone levels – make skipping the yong tau foo stall seem like a sensible decision. If you’ve run out of options, go for eggs. A fried egg is, in many ways, still better than a fried chicken wing.
8. Myth: It’s difficult to monitor portion sizes at the hawker centre.
The ideal portion size for your next post-workout hawker meal – two servings (palm-sized each) of protein, two servings (fist-sized each) of veggies and a small bowl of white rice (ask the nasi padang mak cik for half of what she serves up to everyone else). While such estimations won’t exactly solve the problem, it will most certainly stop you from overeating.
9. Myth: It’s impossible to eat clean at the hawker centre.
Even if you’re confronted with tray after tray of oily dishes at the mixed vegetable rice stall, it isn’t too difficult to keep your post-workout hawker meal reasonably clean. Pair greasier stuff, such as fried kang kong, with healthier options – steamed fish and white rice, for example. Peel the batter off meats, if necessary, and finish your meal with a plate of cut fruits or fresh coconut juice.
Joanna Tan, Senior Dietitian at Changi General Hospital recommends these food items to help you eat cleaner:
– Economy rice/nasi padang: Rice with a serving of meat (fish, chicken and egg also make good substitutes for meat) and a serving of vegetables. Try not to ask for curry or any gravy to go with the rice.
– Fish slice beehoon soup
– Char siew rice with side serving of vegetables.
– Spaghetti bolognaise
– Dumpling soup
– Red bean pau + soy milk (Pick another drink if you don’t want to consume too many soy-based products.)
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