Not only what should you eat after a workout is important, but when should you eat it is just as significant. Read on here, what is post workout nitrition? and experts’ recommendations on what and when to eat after working out.
What Is Post Workout Nutrition?
Post-workout nutrition has three definite objectives:
(i) Replenish glycogen
(ii) Cut down protein breakdown
(iii) Enhance protein synthesis
In other words, athletes/trainers need to:
(i) Restock their energy stores
(ii) Gain muscle mass and/or muscle quality
(iii) Repair the muscle damage caused by the exercises
In simple words, they desire to boost performance, improve their physique, and empower their bodies to remain injury-free.
Intended Benefits Of A Good Post-Workout Nutrition
(i) Fast recovery
(ii) Reduced muscle soreness
(iii) Augmented ability to gain muscle mass
(iv) Recuperated immune function
(iv) Better bone mass
(v) Enhanced capability to utilize body fat
Irrespective of gender or age, everybody yearns for the above benefits.
Why Post Workout Nutrition Is So Indispensable?
When you exercise intensely, you use fuel, and damage tissues at the micro level. This process eventually makes you stronger, leaner, fitter, and more muscular, but in the short term you require repair. Repair and rebuilding take place through the breakdown of old, impaired proteins (known as protein breakdown) and the formation of new ones (known as protein synthesis) – a process collectively termed as protein turnover.
Whereas muscle protein synthesis is improved a little bit (or stay unchanged) after resistance workouts, but the protein breakdown is amplified dramatically. In other words you suffer through a lot more breaking-down than the building-up of new muscle.
The relationship between these two factors (rate of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown) signifies the metabolic basis for muscle growth. Muscle hypertrophy ensues when a positive protein balance is created during recovery – in simple words, when you ensure you have sufficient raw materials available for protein synthesis to take place, so that it doesn’t lag behind protein breakdown. So the aim is not to let the protein synthesis drops when the protein breakdown goes up.
Protein Breakdown And Protein Synthesis
Studies reveal that this equation can be reversed by stimulating protein synthesis and suppressing protein breakdown, which you can make possible through consuming the right type of nutrients after exercise.
Post workout your body doesn’t only need protein, but also require carbohydrates as during workout periods the stored carbohydrates can be considerably depleted.
Therefore, during the post-workout session, we require protein and carbohydrates. The raw materials (protein and carbohydrates) you provide your body through consumption of food and supplements during the workout and post-workout sessions are necessary to start and maintain the metabolic environment which you require.
The “Window Of Opportunity”
Some describe this post-workout muscle hypertrophy occurrence as “the window of opportunity”. During this window, your muscles are geared up to receive nutrients, which in turn fire up muscle repair, muscle growth, and muscle strength. This window opens right away after the workout and begins to close pretty quickly. It’s utmost critical to take post-exercise nutrition promptly, and within maximum 2 hours afterwards. Sooner you feed your body appropriately while this window is open, better it will be for gaining fast muscles. On the other hand If you don’t provide enough post-workout nutrition speedily – even if delayed by one hour – muscle glycogen storage decreases and protein synthesis process slows down.
Total Fitness Tip: As soon as you drop that last dumbbell, you should be consuming some post-exercise nutrition.
What To Eat After Working Out?
As explained above, post-work out meal should include these two ingredients:
(i) Protein post workout to help in protein synthesis process
(ii) Carbohydrates to help in replenishing muscle glycogen (and to boost the function of insulin in transporting nutrients into cells)
In case you have time you can certainly eat a whole food meal, which meets these requirements post workout. But for many people whole food meals may not be practical, as:
(i) Some people aren’t hungry immediately after workout
(ii) A whole food meal that needs refrigeration and preparation might be less practical
And above all whole food doesn’t digest fast, and you need nutrients to be available quickly for protein synthesis process to provide you best results.
So, we recommend having a liquid form of nutrition that has swiftly digesting carbohydrates (e.g., maltodextrin, dextrose, glucose, etc.) and proteins (e.g., protein hydrolysates or isolates). This will ensure:
(i) Fast-tracked recovery by using insulin for transporting nutrients into cells efficiently;
(ii) Prompt digestion and absorption; and
(iii) Better tolerance during and after workouts.
The above table suggests that you may only take about 20-25 grams of protein post workout to optimally stimulate muscle protein synthesis leading to quicker muscle build up.
Which Workout Qualify To Have Post Workout Nutrition?
(i) You should have your post workout supplement/drink after weight training, interval, and endurance training lasting 45 minutes or longer. You don’t necessarily need to have post workout supplement/drink after casual exercises such as walking or riding your bike to the neighbor-hood.
(ii) You don’t need to have a post workout recovery drink in case your objective for exercising is to burn energy and/or lose fat. Rather you require is an energy deficit.
(iii) However, in case your total energy intake is low from food intake, and you spend lots of time doing energy consuming work, taking a branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement or protein supplement can be helpful.
Experts’ Recommendations (What To Eat Post Workout?)
(i) With intense workouts/training, initiate by ingesting 30-40 grams of carbohydrate and 15-20 grams of protein (in 600 ml water) per 45-60 minutes of workout time. You can sip this during the workout or intake it promptly thereafter. You can either make your own post-workout drink or choose a pre-formulated drink which contains quickly digesting carbohydrates (like maltodextrin, dextrose, glucose, etc.) and proteins (like protein hydrolysates or isolates). Once your workout is finished, take a whole food meal within an hour or two.
(ii) If your priority is to lose body fat, use only BCAAs as a workout drink. About 5 to 15 grams per 60 minutes of workout (200 pounds or more = closer to 15 grams, 200 pounds or less = closer to 5 grams).
(iii) If you’re leaner but still wish to lose fat, opt for a smaller dose (like 1/2 dose) of the protein + carb combination, or go for BCAAs.
Just Fitness Tips:
(i) The combo of carbohydrate and amino acids (protein) during/after workout triggers exhilarating effect of growth hormone and testosterone which doesn’t happen during the rest of the day. That is, if you just drink a carb + protein drink while sitting on the couch, it won’t provide you the same results.
(ii) When selecting carbohydrates, remember that glucose is absorbed sooner than fructose, and solutions high in fructose have been linked to gastrointestinal trouble, greater fatigue, and higher cortisol levels.
(iii) You may add creatine to your workout nutrition.
(iv) Essential amino acids work far better than nonessential for propping up positive nitrogen balance after training.
Do you take any nutrition you take during or post workout? If yes, please share with other readers!
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