The most important meal, other than the obvious being breakfast, is the meal you consume directly after your workout.
If you do not fuel yourself with adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates, you may severely jeopardize your exercise progress.
I mean, you and I both go to the gym, and work our BUTTS off by lifting, sweating, and panting, so we should be doing everything in our power to go forward rather than backwards.
This post is equally relevant whether you are an endurance athlete or a strength athlete.
Our bodies main source of fuel is Carbohydrates right? We know this.
Carbohydrates store as Glycogen in the our muscles and liver.
So, when we are vigorously exercising, our bodies are using this glycogen to get us through the workout. Once we finish our workout, these glycogen stores have been depleted, and they need to be restored in order for our body to repair – to get stronger, or to get bigger.
Research proves that there is this “window of opportunity,” which lasts about an hour post workout.
This window is when our body is in dire need of nourishment. It is so deprived that when you feed it, it absorbs food like a sponge. Therefore, we need to be mindful with what we feed it.
We obviously want to nourish our bodies with nutrient rich foods. We also want to feed it with foods which will reach our muscles rapidly.
So instead of eating a bowl of high fibre complex carbs, like oatmeal or brown rice, we want to consume simple sugars, or foods high on glycemic index.
No, I am not saying you should eat a donut or a cinnabun; however, if you were going to eat something fatty, then this would be the best time, because your body would use it rather than store it.
What I am saying is, you should perhaps opt for that plate of white rice you always reject. Or mix your protein powder with some real fruit juice (read the ingredients label to see whether it is real fruit or not – the less the ingredients, the better the juice).
It is suggested that one should consume 0.8 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight.
So for me that would be: 63.5 kg X 0.8 = 50.8 grams of carbs after my workout. That is equivalent to approx. 1 cup of white rice or more.
So obviously I wanted the fastest, easiest way to restore my glycogen stores. Usually after my workout, I am not in the mood to cook or concoct some delicious gourmet meal, so I went to Popeye’s and made my life a whole lot easier – I bought a tub of Dextrose.
Dextrose is essentially a simple sugar – glucose at it’s finest!
It will absorb rapidly, and get to muscles faster than solid food.
The good thing about this particular “supplement” is that it is super cheap!
I think I payed just over 20 bucks for a big tub.
Upon leaving the gym, I mix about half to 3/4 scoop of dextrose with 1 scoop of whey protein and teaspoon of L-Glutamine. Ka-BLAM! Easiest, fastest, simplest post-workout shake!
You can even toss in a little cinnamon or a tablespoon of chia seeds to make things a little more exciting!
If you’re like me, then you’ll need to switch things up. I get bored faaaarrrr too easily. However, on the contrary, everyday for two years during my university days in Toronto, I ate the same thing for lunch and dinner.
I simply never got bored of that for some reason. I guess I am a creature of habit, but there are certain things I do get bored of – and my protein powder is one of them! Speaking of…I can’t wait till this wretched Cookies & Cream flavour is done with. I’m going back to Vanilla or Chocolate!
Okay, so now you know that carbohydrates are KEY in post workout nutrition, you need to know the second variable to complete this equation: PROTEIN.
Since you use your skeletal muscle to perform whatever activity or sport to do, and since skeletal muscle is composed of proteins and amino acids, you are going to have to replenish your amino acids as well!
The reason why Whey Protein is so commonly used, is because it is fast absorbing. After running 10K or completing a monster chest workout, you have torn your muscle fibres. This microscopic tearing only means that new fibres are going to be constructed; but in order for these fibres to be properly and effectively repaired, they need protein – they need amino acids!
And whey protein is just the supplement to promote protein synthesis!
Leucine is an essential amino acid which has been proven to give the most amount of post workout gains. It encourages protein synthesis and decreases catabolism.
Most all protein powders contain this particular amino acid, along with Glutamine (which is another wonderful amino acid which helps in repairing muscles), so you do not necessarily have to take it as a separate supplement.
The recommended protein intake post workout is 0.5 grams per kilogram of body weight.
For me that is about 30 grams of protein, which is 1 scoop of whey protein. BOOM! Easy as that!
A 4:1 ratio is actually recommended for post workout nutrition. So, however you do that should suffice – just make sure you are getting in enough carbs to replenish your stores.
Also, keep in mind that fats and fibre actually slow down the absorption process in the body, so avoid fats and fibre after a workout.
Any other time of the day is fine! Fats are awesome!!!
Our brains are 1/3 fat, so eat enough fats to stay sharp!