Gains aren’t built at the gym; they’re built at home, after your workout while you’re recovering. Your post-workout nutrition, plays a pivotal role, in fueling your body with the proper nutrients it needs to build and rebuild lean muscle mass. What you eat matters and we’re going to talk about what you need to eat post-workout, to get the results you want.
What Is Post-Workout Nutrition?
Without getting the right nutrients before, during, and after your workout, you might as well hang up your speed rope and stop going. Post-workout nutrition is the most important aspect of your training and your overall success. Consuming the right nutrients is fundamental to maximize athletic performance and potential by repairing lean muscle tissue and optimizing recovery. Exercise capacity, performance and recovery from exercise can be enhanced by evidence-based nutritional interventions through the manipulation of different nutritional variables (i.e., nutrient composition, quantity, and timing of nutrient ingestion.) [R].
There are three fundamental purposes for post-workout nutrition
- Replenishing vital amino acids to initiate the muscle rebuilding process also called protein synthesis
- Repair and decrease muscle mass breakdown to maintain lean muscle mass
- Replenishing glycogen stores from carbohydrates to improve energy
What To Eat For Your Post-Workout Nutrition
What you eat and include into your post-workout nutrition strategy really depends on two factors; What you ate during the day and how intense your training was. The macronutrients in charge of it all - Protein and Carbohydrates.
Protein plays a vital role in building and rebuilding muscle mass and strength, improving body composition, and optimizing recovery. Protein is rich in branched-chain amino acids BCAAs, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine which stimulate protein synthesis (muscle building) and decreases proteolysis (muscle mass breakdown.)
Delayed onset muscle soreness or the pain that you typically feel several hours to a couple of days after intense bouts of exercise, is caused by small-scale tissue damage or tears to the muscle fibers. The essential branched chain amino acids, that you derive from protein post-workout provides the critical fuel you need to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and accelerate the recovery process [R]. Therefore, adding protein to your post-workout nutrition strategy is vital to fuel your results. Everyone has a goal, and your work out for a reason and I'm guessing you don't just do it just to lift heavy weight as many times as possible.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that protein supplementation or ingestion post-workout has a beneficial effect on acute anaerobic power, strength, and recovery [R]. However, including protein into your post-workout nutrition strategy really depends on how much protein you ate during the day. The current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for healthy individuals is 0.8 g/kg/day for an untrained conventional diet. However in physically active individuals that are optimizing training performance protein intake of at least 1.4–1.6 g/kg/day is recommended [R].
For the best results post-workout, opt for a liquid form of protein like Whey Protein Isolate. Whole foods digest slowly and if whole meals aren’t practical after your workout, then toss back a post-workout nutrition shake, to get the nutrients you need quickly and efficiently.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Whey Protein Isolate (Chocolate or Vanilla, 30 Servings)
Plant-based protein is also a great option if you’re looking for a plant-based alternative. The biggest challenge when you’re looking for a great source of plant-based protein is knowing which contains a full amino-acid profile to help deliver the protein you need for a plant-based diet. As compared to animal protein, plant protein sources are unique, as each source has different essential nutrients.
Pea protein is perhaps the best plant protein source. Supplementing with a plant protein that has a full essential amino acid (EAA) profile, is critical to initiating the muscle-building process, better known as muscle protein synthesis. As compared to other plant-based protein sources, Pea protein has the highest essential amino acid mix, almost rivaling that of Whey Protein [R]. Finding a plant protein powder that contains a mix of nutritional plant protein sources with additional micronutrients is crucial for a plant-based diet.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT PLANTPRO5 (25 Servings, Chocolate Cake)
Glycogen is the major fuel source produced from glucose found in Carbohydrates. Glycogen plays a major role in supporting energy demands during pro-longed high-intensity training and moderate exercise. [R]. The depletion of glycogen stores is the main factor in the onset of fatigue during exercise [R]. For rapid recovery from prolonged exercise, it is important to replenish glycogen stores to initiate muscle repair and adaptation [R]. Carbohydrates can be utilized within your post-workout nutrition strategy to influence the restoration of endurance capacity during high-intensity training [R].
Numerous clinical studies have proven that prolonged exercise correlates with low glycogen muscle content [R]. Therefore, if you plan on enduring prolonged exercise bouts, or have multiple WODs in your workouts, it’s crucial to supplement with a clean, natural complex carbohydrate product to help replenish glycogen stores, for long-lasting energy and endurance. We recommend our product Clean Carbs, which contains sweet potatoes, yams, oats, and blueberries.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Clean Carbs (45 Servings)
Getting the proper and adequate amounts of essential amino acids from protein and glycogen from carbohydrates is crucial for post-workout nutrition, in order to replenish and initiate the repair process to optimize your training.
Clinical studies have shown that including carbohydrates and protein together into your post-workout nutrition has the greatest benefits on performance optimization [R].
Here are some great sources of protein and carbohydrates to include into your post-workout nutrition strategy
CARBOHYDRATE RICH FRUIT
Nutrient Timing: When Should I Eat Post-Workout?
Well, that depends. For years the general consensus was that you needed to eat within 45 minutes or within your anabolic window following your workout to maximize nutrient uptake and recovery. Which is true, in a fasted state.
If you’re training in an overnight fasted state, (yes, in the morning) then your body undergoes a significant increase in muscle mass breakdown due to the amino acid deficit. Providing your body with adequate glycogen and essential amino acid stores, immediately following your workout, especially in the fasted state provides the fuel you need for optimal muscle growth and recovery. Insert, protein and carbohydrate shake.
In a fed-state, or if you’ve eaten one to two hours before your training session, then consuming a post-workout meal, or drinking a protein shake post-workout may not be entirely necessary and may prove to be redundant. If you’ve eaten one to two hours pre-workout, dependent upon the size and composition, this meal can conceivably function as both a pre and an immediate post-workout meal, since the time course of its digestion/absorption can persist well into the recovery period [R].
Not to mention, that after your workout, you may not be hungry dependent upon when you ate last. It’s important to note, that while ingesting the proper nutrients is key to fueling your progress and performance, eating whole meals isn’t always practical.
My favorite pre-workout Meal: Chocolate, Honey Cinnamon PB, or Vanilla Whey Protein Isolate with one scoop of peanut butter, (PB2 if you’re watching your fat intake), a scoop of Clean Carbs and a Frozen Banana. It’s the perfect ratio of protein and carbohydrates. Plus, it’s delicious. You can thank me later.
Post-Workout Nutrition: Conclusion
Despite claims and the pre-supposition that drinking a protein shake or having a post-nutrition meal within a 45-minute anabolic window will maximize strength and recovery, the claims prove to be far from definitive.
Post-workout nutrition is reliant upon your goals. If your goal is to increase muscular size, strength, and overall mass, then yes, consuming a post-workout meal is what you want to do. However, if your goal is to optimize athletic performance, increase strength, and maintain muscle mass then consuming a post-workout meal may be unnecessary and redundant. Try a post-workout shake for fast and optimal absorption of carbohydrates and protein.
My advice, listen to your body. If you ate chicken, broccoli, and sweet potatoes an hour before your workout, chances are that your body has plenty of amino acids and glycogen stores to fuel your performance and aid in post-workout muscle recovery. In that case, take your BCAA supplement before, during, or after to further reduce muscle damage and accelerate the recovery process.
We recommend our Lemon-Lime BCAA 2:1:1 since it contains Electrolytes for Intra workout hydration and L-Glutamine for faster muscle recovery.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT BCAA 2:1:1 (50 Servings, Lemon Lime)
On the other hand, if you haven’t eaten for five to six hours and you’re dying of hunger, then make the right food choice, ditch your pop tart and eat a healthy ratio of protein and carbohydrates to replenish your amino acid and glycogen stores to optimize your performance. Consuming 20-40 grams of protein, with 20 grams of carbohydrates post-workout will stimulate muscle protein synthesis and replace muscle glycogen to optimize repair and recovery.
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