I wrote today’s post from my favorite chair at the bar of my favorite Los Angeles sushi spot. I discovered this quaint hole in the wall wonderment about 4.5 years ago when I was taken here as a date with some random douche I was dealing with at the time (never mind I’ll spare you the boring details), and it has been the best thing to come out of that encounter. Ever since, this has been my goto spot post workout when I’m in the mood to kill my cravings for raw fish AND fuel my body intelligently at the same time.
I never thought of sushi as a post workout meal until I had a discussion with a friend who almost always swears by it. When I sat down and really thought about the logistics of it all, it made total sense. I mean, what more delicious way can there be of refilling glycogen with clean carbs, getting in some lean protein which of course we all acknowledge is important post workout, and even getting in a bit of sodium that can help to replace what’s been lost during perspiration while training.
With those things in mind, I’ve been using sushi as a post workout treat on occasions for the past year and a half. Here’s my official “how to” for you if you’re curious about how to work this into your own nutrition plan no matter what your goal. Now keep in mind, as with everything, not all things are intended for everyone. Of course if you hate sushi, or you’re sensitive to soy, or if you just think that eating sushi post workout is stupid, then obviously this isn’t for you. But for the rest of you out there, I’d like to present a way of showing you that getting to your goal does NOT have to exclude the things you love and enjoy. Instead, finding ways to incorporate your cravings and vices that won’t have a huge negative impact on your overall program is key. Balance always trumps extremes in diet and training.
How I Apply This To My Plan
I prefer having my sushi meal following a big workout, or more importantly on those training days where I’m focusing particularly on a lagging body part. In this scenario, it’s pretty much guaranteed that my program for that day was relatively difficult and taxing on the body. I tend to love volume, and I train in a variety of rep ranges. So the need for my body to replace vital nutrients and to repair itself is pretty high.
Immediately following my workout I’ll have my protein shake. Normally, I like to pair my protein shakes with a good amount of fast digesting carbs (like fat free Pop Tarts, or air popped popcorn, or generally something low fat and high in carbs). Depending on my goal, the amount of carbs is between about 30-60g postworkout. However, on the days where I know that I’m going to indulge in sushi, I’ll skip it. What I like most about having my protein shake post workout is that it is a source that’s fast digesting, more so than the protein from the fish itself would be. So in this case I feel it’s a little more appropriate for recovery. Also the protein shake is very filling, so it’s kind of a buffer to ensure that although I’m going to enjoy my favorite food, I won’t have to worry about overindulging and eating more than I need.
What To Consider When Ordering Sushi
So now here comes the fun part. Sushi is so great because not only is it high in fast digesting carbs (sticky rice), but fish contains healthy omega-3 fats which has been shown to be a great anti-inflammatory aid in the body (something you want post workout); not to mention, it’s a great source of low fat protein provided you make the right choices. One more factoid about what makes sushi so great is right there in the nori wrappers. Seaweed is an EXCELLENT source of iodine which has a great benefit for the health and function of the thyroid.
Now, what you wan to keep in mind is that although I’m saying you have the green light to enjoy, the same principles that govern your normal post workout nutrition exists here as well. When it comes to what you should order off the menu, look for rolls that are not fried (so no tempura) and that don’t contain mayonnaise or cream cheese. I don’t so much mind the fat from avocados (like what you find in a California Roll), however you may choose to skip it depending on your caloric requirements and physical goals. Despite these things, there still leaves lots of room for yummy choices. Some of my favorite rolls are:
Spicy Tuna Roll (at my spot I ask them to hold the mayo)
White Fish, Tuna or Shrimp Nigiri (fish over rice, no seaweed)
Tuna Hand Roll
I love enjoying these with a nice spike of wasabi, ginger, and a bit of reduced sodium soy sauce. Your best and safest bet is to enjoy the more boring type of rolls that keep the ingredients simple. As far as how many rolls to order, that depends once again on your personal needs and how big the rolls are. The place I go to tends to make nice big and filling rolls. I usually to order 2 and I’m totally fine. But if the rolls that you order are smaller, or contain only a small serving of rice, you can get away with ordering 3 or more. I don’t worry too much about overindulging, remember the way to cut around that is to have your shake before your sushi. And since there’s no real way to measure calories and macros, I choose not to obsess about it and simply eat until I am full.
In conclusion, if you think ahead and you plan accordingly, you will realize that complete cessation of enjoying your favorite foods doesn’t have to be a requirement to reaching your goals. You’ll have a greater chance of succeeding in your efforts if you find appropriate times to enjoy your favorites, like sushi, which fits perfectly in any training and nutrition program no matter what your goal. By making the proper choices, and timing them accordingly, you can have your cake and eat it too (well not really, but you get what I mean).