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
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.
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.
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
Here are some
examples of post workout nutrition:
with whey protein powder and some fruits like banana, grape, blueberry
with whey protein powder and dextrose/glucose or maltodextrin
- some consider this mixture as the best post workout shake and
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).
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.
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.