Post-workout nutrition plays a vital role when aiming to speed up protein synthesis, stop muscle breakdown and replenish glycogen. The body handles nutrients in different ways based on a variety of factors, including time of day and type of activity.
Some studies have assessed post-workout nutrition to determine key requirements. This has enabled researchers to identify the exact amino acid combinations and the composition of carbohydrate drinks required to improve results.
The studies make it easier for athletes to pick the most effective post-workout nutrition strategies. Adopting these approaches enables athletes to repair any tissue damage, replenish energy and enhance both the size and quality of muscles.
A good nutritional strategy reduces the potential of suffering any injuries while improving overall physique. Some of the main advantages of proper nutrition include the capacity to improve immune function, optimises recovery and muscle growth, improved bone mass, reduced muscle soreness and better utilisation of body fat. These key benefits apply to everyone regardless of age or gender.
Intensive workouts are known to damage tissues at the microlevel; hence, the need to enhance recover by eating properly. Experts say immediate consumption is better because it helps replenish fuel used during workouts. As a result, athletes can feel leaner, fitter, more muscular and stronger. Muscle rebuilding entails a process referred to as protein turnover.
Resistance training can increase muscle protein synthesis. However, the increase is minimal when compared to protein breakdown, which rises more rapidly.
This means the body undergoes more breaking down than building during exercise. On the other hand, these two critical parameters create a fundamental basis for metabolic changes that result in muscle growth.
Protein breakdown and synthesis
Muscle hypertrophy depends on the establishment of a positive protein balance during the post-workout phase. Creating the much-needed balance can be particularly difficult for endurance athletes because whenever protein synthesis is at its lowest, protein breakdown picks up. Fortunately, studies have shown that this state is reversible by consuming the right nutrients.
Exercise also depletes carbohydrates stored in the body, which means athletes need to focus on replenishing both proteins and carbohydrates. The nutrients used to refuel the body play an integral role in creating the ideal metabolic conditions for gaining lean muscle mass.
The availability of nutrients determines the optimal delivery of glucose of amino acid. The body can only take advantage of nutrients that are available in the system. Availability can be considered a signal for the body to start the rebuilding process. The rate of protein synthesis rises when the supply of amino acid and glucose is adequate in the bloodstream.
The post-workout period is often referred to as a window of opportunity because the muscles are primed for refuelling, which stimulates muscle repair and growth. The window closely within two hours after the workout.Protein synthesis continues during this time-frame. Consuming the right nutrients within two hours of training provides immense benefits for bodybuilders.
Cereal provides a good source of fibre, carbohydrates and proteins. It makes it easier to replenish depleted energy reserves and can be coupled with yoghurt or milk. Researchers at the University of Texas conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of cereal when it comes to reloading muscles with glycogen. They compared the results to sports drinks, which failed to match cereals.
The non-randomised controlled study revealed that certain aspects of protein synthesis are similar when consuming wholegrain cereal after training. It also showed that non-fat milk is a healthy and affordable option than sports drinks. Experts recommend drinking water and sports drinks during training and a bowl of wholegrain cereal after a workout. This aids in recovery and helps build muscle.
Cereal can be eaten any time of the day not just during breakfast. The researchers noted that replenishing protein and glycogen is of paramount importance. Protein and carbohydrates can stimulate insulin production, which in turn improves the production of protein and glycogen.
Oats are another viable post-workout meal that is an excellent source of fibre. They can be consumed as home-made oat bars, overnight oats, blended or cooked oats. It comes as no surprise that they are the breakfast staple for many. Oats can be combined with vanilla whey powder, ground flaxseed, honey, milk and cinnamon to create a great tasting meal that replenishes depleted carbohydrates.
Protein shakes provide a convenient source of protein that can be consumed while on the go. The shakes combine well with milk, peanut butter and fruit. Athletes can opt for vegetarian or whey protein.
Protein consumption has been proven to supercharge energy levels and reduce recovery time. Doing so supplies the body with the much-needed amino acids, which kickstart the repairing process.
On the other hand, exogenous amino acids are known to boost muscle anabolism without compromising the body’s natural response to mixed meal consumption.
It is recommended that athletes opt for hydrolysed protein shakes, which are partially broken down to help with faster absorption. In turn, this translates to more rapid recovery.
Eggs are a popular post-workout food that comes with high-quality proteins. A single egg contains up to 6 grams of protein, which translates to approximately 15 percent of the recommended daily value.
Also, eggs also provide an excellent source of essential amino acids required by the body. These amino acids help the body digest and absorb protein.
Consuming eggs allows athletes to take advantage of a variety of vitamins, including B12, B6 and A. Whole eggs also provide other minerals in the form of zinc, copper, magnesium, iron, copper and calcium.
A combination of these nutrients helps repair muscle tissue that is broken down during exercise. One egg comes with 70 calories and roughly five grams of fat.
To avoid excessive intake of cholesterol and fat, it is recommended to eat only the egg whites and discard the yolks. Egg whites provide almost 50 percent of the protein and no cholesterol and fat.
For this reason, it is best to mix five egg whites with just a single whole egg. Doing so translates to a protein intake of 21 grams and minimal fat.
This type of yoghurt contains twice the amount of protein when compared to regular variants. It also comes with carbohydrates and can be mixed with cereal or fruits like fresh berries, which can help fight muscle soreness.
Consuming Greek yoghurt within an hour after training is a sure-fire way to replenish glycogen and proteins. It is important to note that water is important too.
The Greek yoghurt is distinctly thick, creamy, wholesome and delicious. It is available in several varieties from which choose, including fruit, plain and honey. The plain variety is the best choice for anyone looking for an option with the least carbohydrates and the most proteins.
The fruit and honey varieties have a lot of sugar, and the protein per serving falls in the 11 to 20 grams range.
It is no wonder that Greek yoghurt forms part of the foods that fall under what to eat post workout. Each serving provides roughly 20 percent of the recommended daily intake when it comes to calcium. The plain variety contains more than 25 percent of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and B12 despite containing up to two grams of protein.
Lactose intolerant individuals can go for the coconut milk-based varieties. However, some intolerant people find Greek yoghurt better than regular yoghurts because it does not contain excess water and whey.
Post Work-out Recommendations
When working hard at the gym, it is vital to begin by consuming sufficient carbohydrates and proteins per hour of workout time. The nutrients are crucial and can be consumed during exercise and immediately after training.
Sports drinks are best consumed during training to avoid dehydration. Pre-formulated drinks typically come with rapid digesting carbs, such as glucose, maltodextrin and dextrose.
The same applies to proteins, such as isolates and protein hydrolysates. Having a whole food within two hours of finishing training has been proven to repair damaged cells and boosting muscle growth. This answers the question – when is the right time to eat after the workout?
For those planning to lose weight, it is important to opt for branch chain amino acids (BCAA) as a workout drink. Experts recommend consuming between 5 and 15 grams of per hour of training. A smaller dose should choose by leaner athletes who want to lose fat.
Combining amino acids and carbs is a viable way to stimulate testosterone and the growth hormone. To maximise the effect, athletes must ingest the nutrients during or immediately after exercise.
In turn, the nutrients are utilised as fuel during workouts and for the rest of the day. Resorting to just protein and carbohydrate drink does not provide the same benefits.
When selecting carbs, athletes must keep in mind that the absorption rate of glucose is faster when compared to fructose. On the other hand, products that have a high fructose content have been shown to trigger gastrointestinal complications, higher cortisol levels and increased fatigue.