If your home fitness routines consist of high intensity weight training exercises, then you should take post workout nutrition very seriously as what you feed your body within an hour post workout determines your ultimate success or failure at achieving lean muscle mass. You probably have heard this before but gaining lean muscle mass doesn’t happen while you work out, but occurs during your recovery phase (after your workout is completed).
Here’s briefly what happens after you finish an intense workout: protein breakdown increases and glycogen stores (muscle energy) decrease substantially. The combination of these two facts is what makes your muscles worn out post workout. If you don’t fuel your body immediately post your workout, then your glycogen stores are not replenished. This causes existing muscles to be depleted and transformed into energy. Needless to say this is not a pretty picture for anyone looking to gain lean muscle mass and/or strength. The same thing happens if your post workout nutrition is crap, so NO, you cannot eat hamburgers and fries after your workout.
This begs the following question: what is a good post workout nutrition? You can answer this question in two phases: A) post workout nutrition that occurs within an hour of your session, and B) post workout nutrition that happens 1 to 2 hours after your exercise routine. This is simply because you need different types of fuels for those two segments of time. Let’s drill down further.
Post workout nutrition within 1 hour after workout
It is critical that you have a quick meal immediately after your workout. Meal in this case doesn’t mean ingesting a huge piece of chicken. Au contraire, this should be a small meal that can be digested quickly. When this meal is not consumed quickly post workout, you miss out on certain benefits and your muscle condition also worsens.
It is recommended to drink a liquid meal such as a protein shake given the fact that it is quickly absorbed through the body. By doing this, you are replenishing, stopping, and elevating three different things: 1) replenishing your glycogen stores, 2) stopping protein breakdown and 3) elevating protein synthesis. There are many different types of liquid meals. Many people prefer shakes or healthy smoothies. Optimum blenders make a blender that makes great shakes.
1) Replenishing glycogen stores
When you exercise, you burn calories; which means you burn energy. Burning calories uses up glycogen stores. Replenishing your glycogen reserves ensures that you remain in peak condition the next time you work out. To replace your glycogen stores, you need carbohydrates; and before you jump out of your sit, no, the carb will not make your fat. Just make sure you are ingesting less calories than you are burning.
Besides restoring your glycogen reserves, the carb will create a spike in insulin production. Insulin makes sure your blood sugar levels don’t get out of control.
2) Stopping protein breakdown
In addition to the above, insulin is highly anabolic at rest, meaning it builds muscle and stops protein breakdown post workout. So in essence, with the carb, you are killing two birds with one stone. But your post workout shake isn’t complete yet. Your post workout nutrition also encompasses protein. The protein aids in not only stopping protein breakdown, but also helps repair muscles, and build new muscles. For your post workout protein shake, ensure it has 0.4 gram of protein per kilogram of body mass.
3) Elevating protein synthesis
The last thing you need to do is to increase protein synthesis. This is a critical part of the muscle recovery process. To achieve this, you must supplement high levels of essential amino acids. You can do this through BCAA supplementation. BCAA supplements provide essential amino acids, helping deliver a huge boost in protein synthesis.
Supplements you can use in your protein shake within an hour post workout are: whey protein, maxiraw from Maxiraw Shop, Dextrose and Maltodextrin, BCAA supplements, creatine, anti-oxidants and L-glutamine
Post workout nutrition 1 to 2 hours after workout
This is the time you need actual solid food, rather than just a simple shake. You have two options for this meal: either create another insulin spike for anabolic effects at rest or create a slow burning carb process. Try to go for the second option so that you don’t end up raising your insulin up too high, causing you to gain excess fat.
You can also add protein to this meal to further assist in your muscle repair process. Also, remember to hydrate with water, along with this meal. The meal should consist of foods that have a low glycemic index or burn slow. There are different types of food that have a low glycemic index or burn slowly. It is important to do some research on the different types of food your body will be consuming. Cooking your own food rather than eating out may help consuming foods with a low glycemic index a little more managable. Part of being a good cook means you have to follow a recipe properly. If you have trouble with cooking, you can go to Heather Marie Hendrick’s article for further information on cooking and recipes. Here are some low glycemic index foods:
1) Foods high in carb
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
- Unprocessed whole wheat bread
2) Foods high in protein
- Chicken breasts
- Nuts (they also have good fats, especially almonds)