Benefits of HIIT & how to refuel your body
I’m an avid exerciser and have been for years but with two children still at school, holding down a job and going through the transition into menopause (the peri-menopause), I find that tiredness and lack of time can become problematic. Enter HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. Studies show that HIIT – short sharp bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by short rest periods – has been linked to weight loss, and increase in aerobic and anaerobic fitness, strengthening bone & muscle and is ideal if you are short on time or feeling tired.
Heart, muscle and bone healthy, the benefits of HIIT training for women going through peri-menopause and who are post menopausal are great, but you do need to refuel your body wisely afterwards. So what should you eat after a HIIT session?
It’s important that post-workout we eat the right foods to aid muscle repair and growth and help replace any energy that was lost during the workout. High-protein, antioxidant-rich foods are fabulous as by their very nature, will replenish your muscles and fuel your body with the right nutrients to boost your immune system and fight oxidation that happens within our cells, helping us feel great after exercise and limit the post-workout aches that you may experience.
Timing: You should look to refuel your body no later than 60 to 90 minutes after your HIIT workout. This provides your muscles with what they need to replenish their glycogen (energy) stores adequately.
So, if like me you want to introduce HIIT training to your schedule make sure you’re eating the right nutrients after your workout, check out my top five food suggestions, all of which are quick & easy for those of us busy mums/grandmas. Here is what I refuel with to help my body recover and be prepared for the day ahead.
My absolute favourite and one of the best foods you can eat after a workout. They’re a powerhouse of nutrition, with a significant amount of protein and healthy fats — around 7 grams and 5 grams respectively per egg.
Eggs are also considered a “complete protein” source. This means that they contain all nine of the essential amino acids, which have been linked to aiding in muscle recovery. Eggs also contain B vitamins, which can aid in energy production. These nutrients are vital for peri & post- menopausal women as they help us build muscle, which sadly we lose when our oestrogen levels drop. The more muscle we have the more calories we burn and the stronger we stay which is vital for balance and movement. B vitamins are vital for promoting cellular growth, maintaining healthy skin and hair, supporting our metabolism, enhancing our immune and nervous system, easing stress and improving mood.
Eggs are easy and quick to cook, scrambled (my absolute favourite), omellete, poached or boiled – it’s up to you J. Why not incorporate eggs into a tuna and spinach salad, scrambled with mashed avocado on rocket, hard-boilded with a pinch of salt & pepper?
Blueberries are both delicious and packed with dietary fibre, vitamins, protein, and antioxidants. Easy on the go food too just pack into a BPA free plastic box and pop into your handbag/gym bag and enjoy!
All forms of exercise cause some type of oxidative stress, or an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. For this reason, it’s important to include antioxidant-rich foods in your everyday diet. What’s more, eating blueberries after a workout has been linked to accelerated muscle recovery time, which may mean you don’t suffer from the soreness that follows an exercise session.
I personally eat blueberries on a regular basis and I tend to throw a handful over a small pot of kefir yoghurt but other ways to include blueberries in you post-workout snack could be on top of a small ramakin sized portion of homemade granola, enjoyed on their own on the go or in a smoothie.
I’m a sucker for a good avocado and so good for peri & post- menopausal women. Great heart and brain food, this fabulous fruit is rich in magnesium, which is excellent for muscle recovery. It also contains 14 percent of your daily value of potassium, which can help to regulate fluid balance and controlling electrical activity of the heart and other muscles.
What’s more, avocado is a great source of folate and vitamins C, K, and B-6, all of which are anti-inflammatory nutrients, which can help reduce inflammation in the body that may be caused by exercise-induced stress. In short, this fruit is a great way to aid exercise recovery
In short, this fruit is a great way to aid in HIIT recovery.
For me, I try to include it in at least one of my meals per day and I find that 1/2 of an avocado is a sufficient serving size. You can try it paired with eggs especially scrambled, smashed on toast – why not try toasted rye bread – delicious, added to a salad bowl, thrown into a smoothie or on its own with a little bit of salt and fresh ground pepper
Green leafy vegetables
I do love my veggies and much like blueberries, green leafy vegetables are part of my go-to post-workout food and I eat them daily even when I haven’t done a workout. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre and low in calories. Green leafy vegetables are high is antioxidants and can help minimize any build up of free radicals that increase during HIIT training. Some ideas of green leafy vegetable to choose are kale, spinach, rocket, watercress, lambs lettuce, spring greens, savoy cabbage.
Why not try a couple of handfuls of your favourite green leafy vegetables and sautee them in a little extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, throw them onto a salad or steam them and eat with a small piece of chicken.
A great on-the-go alternative when you can’t get to the kitchen and prepare/make a post workout snack but making sure your body is getting enough whole-food protein to help muscles recover. I tend to opt for a pea protein as I seem to be intolerant to lactose but you could try a sprouted vegan protein powder, which is also vegetable based or choose a whey protein powder, there are lots to choose from but try and keep the sugar content below 6 – 8 grams per serving.
So to recap – for peri & post menopausal women it’s important to exercise but it’s vital to refuel your body with nutritious, whole foods especially after HIIT. It aids performance, wellness, health and will aid recovery. Why not try one, or all of these foods to your post-workout snack programme to help with muscle recovery, protein synthesis, and ultimately, aid your ability achieve your workout goals and stay well.