We all know the most important time to get food in is immediately post-workout. Our body is in a prime state to soak up nutrients to help repair muscle tissue. This process begins the early stages of recovery, which helps us to build lean muscle tissue.
What should you eat post-workout? How much should you eat? Whey protein alone, or consume protein with carbs?
Use these 5 tips to make the most out of your post-workout window.
Branch chain amino acids are one of the most important things to consume post-workout. BCAA contain three major amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids send various signals to our bodies to begin the repair and rebuild process. Consuming just 5-10g of BCAA immediately after your last set can help make you more anabolic and less sore.
There is so much debate about having protein only post-workout. Protein by itself after a workout is not as optimal as you may think. Combining your protein with carbohydrates will increase your recovery process. Carbohydrates are needed post-workout to help replace glycogen levels, and help to shuttle the amino acids from your protein into muscle cells. Carbohydrates are more anabolic than protein, so when combined you give your body a one-two punch for recovery and overall muscle growth.
The goal of a post-workout shake should be to help shuttle nutrients into your muscle cells as quickly as possible to help repair and grow them. Fats are a very slow-digesting macronutrient. Fats contain 9 calories per gram, therefore they take almost double the amount of time to digest than protein or carbs. Whenever you add fat to any meal, you are slowing the digestion of your meal down. Keeping fat under 10g post-workout will ensure that the nutrients we consume will arrive much faster.
Alpha Lipoic Acid and vitamin C are two powerful antioxidants, which are able to fight free radicals. Free radicals build up when we subject our bodies to certain amounts of stress, such as working out. After we lift weights there’s a build up of lactic acid and oxidative stress on the cells. ALA and vitamin C are known to help aid the body to fight these stresses. In addition to being an antioxidant, ALA is also very useful for helping to increase glucose uptake in the cells. ALA will help shuttle your post-workout meal into your muscle cells.
When we lift weights, not only are we damaging muscle cells, but we are also losing electrolytes and our own body fluid. Our body is composed of 60% water, and our muscle cells are made up of 80% water. A 1% reduction in water can lead to a significant loss in strength and performance. It’s extremely important to hydrate and help replace what we lost during exercise.
BY ANTHONY BEVILACQUA, CPT