What is the Importance of Post-Workout Nutrition ?


Your body is like a car, and just like a car, it needs the right fuel to run efficiently. When you work out, you are essentially putting your body through a type of stress, and in order to recover from that stress, your body needs the right nutrients.

There are three main things that your body needs in order to recover from a workout:

1. Protein - This is the most important nutrient for muscle growth and repair.

2. carbohydrates - These are important for replenishing glycogen stores and providing energy.

3. fats - Although they get a bad rap, fats are actually essential for many different functions in the body including hormone production, brain function, and joint health.

It seems to me that most people in the gym are not getting the most out of their time. They're investing hours in strength or endurance training programs that don't seem to be yielding any results? What a waste!

Do you need proof? Most people who visit a gym never see any real progress. In fact, the last time you made any significant physical progress was probably a long time ago. Exercise training has the potential to provide huge returns on your investment, but most people never realize this. It's a shame that so few people ever experience this level of success.

While this reality is disappointing, I'm here to tell you that hope is not lost. In fact, there's an easy way to maximize your investment--by combining exercise with the other key ingredient that yields the biggest returns. Most often, the problem isn't with the exercise; it's with people who neglect to invest in other important resources.

Today, I’d like to focus on one of the most important aspects of exercise nutrition- eating after working out. By following these tips, you’ll get the biggest benefits from your time in the gym. The knowledge you gain about eating during this time will help you achieve your goals and maximize your results.

Exercise is responsible for countless health and aesthetic benefits. However, exercising itself is a significant physiological stressor. Symptoms of this "stress" can include muscle soreness, the need for more sleep, and an increased appetite.

These symptoms indicate that the body has used up its fuel resources during the workout, which resulted in some minor damage. However, these changes help the muscle adapt and become better at handling the exercise demands placed on it. Although depletion and damage may sound negative, they only last for a short period of time. In fact, these changes allow the muscle to become better equipped to handle future challenges.

Endurance exercise results in muscle depletion and damage in the short term, but in the long run, it will result in better aerobic performance. Strength training causes weaker muscles to be replaced by stronger ones- though this can be harmful in the short term.

Exercise is important for rebuilding and remodeling your muscles. This process, which is called remodeling, only happens if the right raw materials are supplied. For example, if I want to remodel my home I can hire a contractor to tear down a couple of walls, a cleaner to clean up the mess, and a contractor to build better walls than the ones that were torn down.

If I don't give that guy some bricks, how's he going to finish the project? If I don't give him the bricks, he'll only have a much smaller and unfinished house in the end. The same goes for exercise remodeling. In particular, during and immediately following an exercise bout, exercise breaks down our muscle carbohydrate stores and our muscle protein structures. Then, the immune system comes in to clean up the mess.

As you can see, signals are sent to the body to initiate rebuilding. However, without the right sources of protein and carbohydrates, this rebuilding cannot take place. You’ll be left with muscles that never reach their potential. And lastly, exercise also destroys our muscle carbohydrate stores and protein structures. The immune system then comes in to clean up the mess.

I hope this analogy makes it clear that this post-workout period is not to be taken lightly. Remember, you worked hard in the gym breaking down muscle tissue for a reason. You want it to be better prepared for future demands.

- What to Eat Before and After a Workout?

After working out, it’s important to take care of your muscles. Even if you’re doing a different form of exercise, your muscles always need carbohydrates to function. Therefore, after exercise, you need to eat a high-carbohydrate meal to refill your muscle carbohydrate stores.

To achieve the most effective results from your carb intake, you need to consume enough carbohydrates to stimulate a substantial insulin release. Insulin is responsible for transporting carbohydrates and amino acids into the muscle, which then leads to an accelerated re-synthesis of carbohydrates and a positive protein balance.

Consuming a large number of carbohydrates will result in a large insulin release, increase glycogen storage, and increase protein synthesis. Research has shown that consuming 0.8 to 1.2 grams per 1 kilogram of body weight maximizes glycogen synthesis and speeds up protein repair. However, unless you’ve had a very long, intense workout, 1.2 grams per kilogram may be excessive as excess carbohydrates can be converted to body fat.

To maximize muscle carbohydrate replenishment and prevent weight gain, I recommend eating 0.8 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight.

In addition, post-exercise protein supplementation is necessary to help rebuild the structural proteins within the muscle. After exercise, the body decreases its rate of protein synthesis and increases its rate of protein breakdown. However, providing high-quality protein and amino acids has been shown to reverse this trend, increasing protein synthesis and decreasing protein breakdown.

Researchers have found that anywhere from 0.2g-0.4g of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight is necessary in order for post-workout carbohydrate drinks to be effective (van Loon et al 2000b, Roy et al 1998). This amount of protein will help to maintain a healthy protein balance. Rather than consuming only 0.2g/kg, it may be beneficial to consume 0.4g/kg.

While you should be eating proteins and carbohydrates after working out, this meal should be free of fat. Consuming essential fats during the post-workout period can actually decrease the effectiveness of your post-workout drink. Since fat slows down transit through the stomach, eating fat during the post-workout period may slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins.

After working out, you’ll want to eat a meal that will help speed the delivery of nutrients to your muscles. Make sure to avoid fatty foods during this time because they can slow down digestion. Finally, make sure to have your post-workout meal as soon as possible after exercising—this will help ensure that the muscle receives all of the nutrients it needs.

This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the "window of opportunity". This window gradually closes as the recovery period progresses, and by not eating immediately after exercising, you diminish your chances of achieving full recovery. For example, research has shown that consuming a post-exercise meal within 1 hour of completing your workout is more effective than waiting an hour.

In addition, consuming a protein shake one hour after exercise is superior to consuming one three hours after exercise (Tipton et al 2001, Levenhagen et al 2001). If you wait too long, glycogen replenishment and protein repair will be compromised.

- What is the Best Way to Get Nutrients?

Whole Food Vs. Nutritional Supplementation

While I wholeheartedly believe that whole, unprocessed, untreated food is the best nutritional foundation, there are some occasions when supplements may be superior to whole food. In the case of post-exercise nutrition, I believe that liquid supplements are far superior to whole food for the following reasons.

After an intense workout, most people find it difficult to stomach a big meal. This makes sense as the exercise stress has basically shut down your hunger centers. However, now that you know this is important, you must eat if you want to rebuild muscle, enlarge your muscles, or recover from your workout.

Fortunately, liquid supplemental formulas are tastable and easy to consume. They provide all the nutrients you need at this time, and since they’re structurally simple, the gastrointestinal tract has no trouble processing them. Your stomach will thank you for this.

Recent research has shown that liquid supplemental formulas containing fast-digesting protein and carbohydrates are absorbed more quickly than whole food meals.

By this time, a liquid post-workout formula should be fully absorbed, providing essential muscle nourishment in as little as 30 to 60 minutes. However, a slower digesting solid food may take up to 3 hours to reach the muscle.

Isn't it refreshing to know that liquid meals take advantage of the "window of opportunity"? Current research has shown that consuming nutrients within an hour after exercise helps speed up recovery times more than waiting three hours. Isn't liquid nutrition making more sense than eating traditional meals?

Liquid meals are better for nutrient targeting after exercise. These specific nutrients help your body heal and recover quickly. It’s best to consume high-glycemic index carbohydrates and specific amino acids in specific ratios during this time period. Whole foods may not provide all of the necessary nutrients.

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