In my last post, Eat This to Build Muscle and Burn Fat, I discussed the importance of proper post-workout nutrition consisting of protein in combination with a carbohydrate. If you really want to optimize your workout efforts, then proper post-workout nutrition is critical and we need to be a little more specific.
Protein + Carb = magic post-workout formula. Yes, however, there’s a bit more to it than that. I have a secret formula that you probably haven’t heard of when it comes to your post workout meal, so stick with me ‘till the end (it’s worth it!).
As I mentioned in another post, there’s a “metabolic window” that lasts up to 45 minutes after your workout. This is a critical window to get proper nutrients in to remain in an anabolic (muscle building) state. Essentially, you want to consume your post-workout nutrition as soon as possible after your workout. Most people will drink a protein supplement, maybe make a smoothie with some yogurt, fruit, protein, spinach, etc. This is all good nutrition, however it is not optimal for your post-workout needs.
As you know, I am a huge advocate for whole foods to obtain proper nutrition. In this particular case, using a protein supplement and a carbohydrate supplement that is fast digesting is going to be your best option for post-workout nutrition.
Why would this be better? I mentioned previously that you want to get your nutrients in as soon as possible after your workout. If you are going home and making yourself a smoothie or shake that consists of whole foods, your body needs to breakdown these nutrients first which takes time and is not the most efficient way to take advantage of that 45 minute metabolic window.
That’s not to say that if you don’t want to/can’t afford to buy supplements that you shouldn’t still eat your post-workout smoothie consisting of protein and carbs, but we’re talking about optimal nutrition here. Our muscles naturally fall into a catabolic (muscle break down) state if we don’t provide them with the proper nutrition, and utilizing a hydrolyzed (already broken down) formula can prevent breakdown of the muscle, stimulate muscle growth via hormones, and also decrease cortisol levels in the body post exercise.
I mentioned earlier that I have a “secret formula.” Truth is, if you’re heavily involved in sports nutrition you probably know this, but if you’re a beginner then this tip is for you. Most people know about the protein + carb rule. However, research shows that in addition to your fast digesting protein + carb supplement, consuming vitamins C and E, along with the amino acids leucine and glutamine can improve protein synthesis, speed the elimination of metabolic wastes, replenish the muscle glycogen stores that were used up during exercise, and give a boost to the immune system.
Still with me? We’re not done. I’ve mentioned “fast digesting” about 10 times throughout this post. What the heck is that about?!
If you walk into a supplement store, you’ll notice hundreds of different kinds of proteins to choose from, which can be overwhelming. There’s whey, casein, egg, pea… the list goes on. Whey is going to be the fastest digesting protein, which is what you would want for this situation. Whey tends to be more expensive, but trust me when I tell you, it’s worth the splurge if you are looking for maximum results.
Whey and casein are 2 major milk proteins. When extracted, the protein content consists of about 80% casein to 20% whey. This is why whey is more expensive, because as you can see, there’s less of it. That’s not to say casein is bad; it’s just not what we want in this scenario. Casein is a slower digesting protein, which would be good for something like breakfast if you’re not a big morning eater, or a meal replacement if you’re in a pinch.
Just like not all calories are created equal, not all macronutrients are created equal. We discussed protein, now let’s talk about carbs.
Most people know that there are simple carbs and complex carbs. Without getting too technical, you want to consume a simple carbohydrate that is high on the glycemic index. This is for the same reason you want a quick digesting protein; simple sugars don’t take as long to be digested.
Lastly, as if I wasn’t make this complicated enough, you want to make sure you are consuming specific kinds of high glycemic sugars. More specifically, you want to consume foods (or supplements) that contain either sucrose, maltodextrin, and dextrose; these are sugars that have the highest effect on insulin stimulation (to read why this is important, click here).
Food sources for sucrose include ripe dates, sugar beets, sweet peas, dried fruits, peaches, and mangoes. You can find dextrose in foods such as honey, corn syrup, and starchy foods such as potatoes (I recommend using honey if this is the route you are going to take), and maltodextrin is a food additive that can be found in food items like jerky or reduced fat peanut butter. It is also available in supplement form, most common used by body builders.
Phew! That was a lot of information to take in, so let’s sum it up.
The ultimate post-workout nutrition = whey protein + high glycemic carb + vit C +vit E + leucine + glutamine
Try adding this to your post-workout routine and see how your muscles grow!
Personally, I use this post workout stack* from a company called 1st phorm*. It consists of a rapid-digesting whey protein isolate (called phormula-1*) and a carbohydrate component (called ignition*) that is pure dexanhydrous glucose. I know that probably doesn’t mean much to you, but basically it is an extremely fast digesting carbohydrate that is ideal for your post-workout nutrition. Since you have that short period of time post-workout where your muscles are more readily accepting nutrients, you want to fuel them as quickly as possible; these 2 supplements are already broken down into their simplest form which takes out the digestion time that you would be facing if you were to ingest a full meal after your workouts.
Did you already know that adding antioxidants and amino acids could boost your muscle building potential?
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