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Perfecting post-workout nutrition


To varying degrees we’re all aware of the importance of consuming quality calories after a strenuous training session. Afterall it stands to reason that once we have broken muscle down we naturally seek to rebuild it and take advantage of the well documented “window of opportunity” where we can assimilate more quality nutrients, such is the demand post-training.

This demand is also reflected by the emergence of a whole array of sports supplements, indeed I can’t think of any gyms I’ve visited that hasn’t made efforts to profit from this window by offering RTD’s in fridges or supplying protein shakes behind the counter.

But did you know that any one supplement when taken on its own is not ideal for optimum recovery? And that serving sizes are often vastly under-estimated? Allow me to explain:

To address the first question we have to focus on and understand exactly what the body demands at this critical time and therefore shape our nutrition around such priorities. First and foremost the body seeks to replenish glycogen stores/energy levels; muscle on the other-hand can be re-built over the course of days.

So with the emphasis being on “fast acting” nutrients at this time you seriously want to consider consuming “simple carbohydrates” in the form of banana’s, isotonic glucose based RTD’s or a separate food/sports supplement containing either glucose or Waxyvol. Please note that consuming just protein at this point will inevitably lead to your body breaking some of this down in to sugars to replenish said glycogen stores.

Why the sudden emphasis on carbohydrates? This goes back to tens of thousands of years ago when we were hunter gatherers, where levels of energy were potentially a matter of life or death, again muscles can recover over the course of days so it clearly doesn’t take priority over restoring energy levels.

For all the advancements mankind has made over the years human physiology has remained very similar. Remarkably your body can re-fuel/satisfy this demand (given the nature of the carbs being correct) in only 20 minutes; which leads me nicely onto protein!

By stating earlier that any one supplement is not ideal for post-workout I didn’t mean to say that they shouldn’t be used. Again as with the carbs the emphasis has to be on fast acting as your muscles will genuinely appreciate a flood of highly bio-available aminos/protein at this interval.

This lends itself without question to whey protein, the most bio-available and fast acting of all proteins. Rest assured you should look to consume a high quality, cost effective product, ideally with water.

To address the second question of how much, you’ll probably not be surprised to hear that this is variable to your bodyweight and perhaps more accurately your levels of lean bodyweight. For optimum recovery you should aim to consume 1g of both simple carbs and whey protein for each kilo of lean(ish) bodyweight. Sound like a lot? Well, if you’ve undertaken between 20-30 working sets to absolute failure your body will absorb it!

If you genuinely believe 20-25g of protein (80-100 cals) is going to cut-it post-workout then I’m afraid you’ve been mislead. Yes they are studies claiming these are maximum absorption levels but the subjects of such experiments are nearly always sedentary people, weighing 70-80 KG who lead inactive lives.

Compare this to a guy who weighs a lean 100KG and has just taken his working muscles to failure 30 times. Who do you think will absorb the more protein? Whose body will be placing the greater demands? Doesn’t it stand to reason your nutrient intake should be subject to such critical factors?

Please remember that intense resistance training is essentially a catabolic activity. Okay you get the illusion of growth in the gym but that’s just the increase of blood flow to the working muscles. What your doing is essentially tearing muscle down, even more so if like many you enjoy the benefits of a pre-workout supplement!

So please don’t compromise your levels of whey protein, you stand to lose more than you stand to gain. Perfecting post-workout nutrition is absolutely crucial to our levels of performance and recovery as it makes a huge difference over time!

Consider taking your simple carbohydrates to the gym (large banana/lucozade) and 20 minutes after, whether you be at home or work consume your whey protein – both at 1g per kilo of lean(ish) bodyweight and experience the benefits of optimum recovery. Try it and after just one short month, you’ll be surprised!

Disclaimer: All exercises on this site are intended for healthy individuals without any present medical conditions. If you are currently experiencing any bone, joint, or musculoskeletal pain, we advise you to consult a licensed health care professional prior to commencing any of the exercises suggested within this site. The author, editor, and publisher specifically disclaim all responsibility and liability for any injury arising from the use and application of the information provided within this site.

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