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Best Post Workout Nutrition Meal Drink Shake
By Jean Lam

You might not know yet but did you know there is one really important meal, drink or shake in your nutrition plan if you are building muscles and losing fat. If you neglect this meal, you might not be making the muscle gains you are working so hard for. This nutrition meal is what you consume for your post workout and it's a fundamental one. You might say is there a best post workout nutrition meal or drink or shake but to be honest with you, there is none. There is much controversy on this subject and opinions differ from one another. Just like opinions, people differ and what can work for one person might not necessarily work for the other. In this article, I am going to shed some lights on different post workout nutrition and why post workout refuelling is crucial for your body and coveted muscle and fat loss gains.

As you know, after you have a gruelling workout, you are exhausted. You feel your muscles completely depleted and you are completely drained out of energy. This is totally natural. What has happened is your muscle glycogen stores have been emptied. Glycogen is a form of glucose storage in your body. This is what fuels your body and gives you energy. If you stay in this state for too long, your body will shift in a catabolic mode that is muscle destruction. This is how all the hard work for your muscle gains can be wasted. And you don't want that to happen. What you need is to put your body in an anabolic mode that is muscle building. And afterall, this is what your goal is about. So pay much attention during this key time. To achieve your body anabolism after an arduous workout, you will need to replenish your glycogen stores and refuel your muscle cells. You need to create insulin secretions and spikes in your body to improve muscle recovery. Insulin is a hormone and is secreted by the pancreas. To speed this secretion, you need to increase your blood sugar levels, hence you need to have a glucose intake. You might say, well isn't sugar bad? Well not at this point in time. The simple reason is that your body muscle cells are depleted from energy and they need to revitalize again. Here is where glucoce plays a key role. Once your pancreas secretes more insulin, the latter binds into your muscle cell receptors and stimulates the transfer of glucose and other valuable nutrients to your muscle cells. The end result is a muscle recharge, repair and growth.

So where do you get glucose? Glucose also known as dextrose is a type of sugar and is available in natural foods like fruits for instance bananas, grapes, blueberries, strawberries. Fruits are simple carbohydrates and provide instant energy. But keep in mind that fruits have fructose as well and this will not increase your blood sugar levels as fast as glucose or dextrose only. So does this mean fruits are bad? No not really. What is needed is fruits which have a high glucose to fructose ratio. Bananas, grapes, blueberries, strawberries are some examples. On the other hand, apples, pears, mangoes, papayas and guavas have higher fructose levels.

So basically, for your post workout, you will need nutrients that will be digested and absorbed in your body fast. Apart from simple carbs, you will also need quick digestible proteins. Remember, protein contains amino acids and is the building block of muscles. Whey protein powder is a quick digestible protein and is recommended for fast absorption of the amino acids to your muscle cells. What you don't need at this point in time are fiber and fat because these will slow the digestion and absorption of nutrients to your muscle cells. If you do have them, they should only be minimal.

To resume all this, you need quick digestible proteins and carbs. The carbs should have a high glycemic index like simple carbs as compared to complex carbs which have a low glycemic index for example wholewheat bread, brown rice, sweet potatoes, wholegrain oats. These foods have more fibers and as a result, digest more slowly than simple carbs. While all these complex carbs are good for nutrition, they are not effective at this key time which is your post workout nutrition.

Here are some examples of post workout nutrition:

Water mixed with whey protein powder and some fruits like banana, grape, blueberry and strawberry.

Water mixed with whey protein powder and dextrose/glucose or maltodextrin - some consider this mixture as the best post workout shake and drink.

Whey protein powder mixed with grape fruit juice or other juices with low fructose and higher glucose.

All these mixtures are processed in a blender and are usually drink within 30 mins after the workout. The earlier the better. Then after 1-1.5 hours, a whole food meal is eaten. An example - a high protein(skinless chicken breast), complex carbs(sweet potato, broccoli), healthy fats(extra virgin olive oil).

While some people think that liquid meals are preferred since they are more easily absorbed in the body, the controversy between shakes and drinks as compared to whole food meals is still debatable. Whole food meals are still convenient as post workout nutrition according to some people although they are digested slower. According to some, people who consume whole food meals after their workout have the same chances in restoring their muscle glycogen stores as effectively as those who have liquid meals provided they are also following a 4-6 meal a day plan. These people also refuel their bodies within 30 minutes after their workout but in another way. For instance, they will have a direct meal with simple carbs too like white rice, white bread, white pasta and lean protein like skinless chicken breast, white fish, egg whites. All these white foods contain glucose so it's ideal for post workout. Then after 2-3 hours, they will switch to complex carbs with lean protein and healthy fats. Some people can get great results either way. There is not one solution for all people. Individuals vary and people don't eat or drink the same thing. Also some people might not have access to protein powders and supplements. So they stick to whole food meals.

Your post workout nutrition either meal or shake is critical as it provides your body with all the vital nutrients to catapult your body from catabolic to anabolic mode and if you skip this, you will not be making the muscle gains you are working so hard for. So train hard, feed your body well and most importantly, when it needs it the most.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.

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