What you consume before, during, and especially after your workout is important. By consuming particular nutrients after your workouts (aka post-workout nutrition), you improve your body composition, performance, and overall recovery.
Generally, post-workout nutrition has three specific purposes:
- Replenish glycogen
- Decrease protein breakdown
- Increase protein synthesis
In other words, athletes want to:
- replenish their energy stores
- increase muscle size and/or muscle quality
- repair any damage caused by the workout
In doing so, they want to increase performance, improve their appearance, and enable their bodies to remain injury-free.
Benefits of good post-workout nutrition include:
- Improved recovery
- Less muscle soreness
- Increased ability to build muscle
- Improved immune function
- Improved bone mass
- Improved ability to utilize body fat
These benefits seem to work for everyone, regardless of gender or age.
When we work out intensely, we damage tissues at the microlevel, and we use fuel. This is what ultimately makes us stronger, leaner, fitter, and more muscular, but in the short term it requires repair.
Some refer to this post-workout phenomenon as “the window of opportunity”. During this window, your muscles are primed to accept nutrients that can stimulate muscle repair, muscle growth, and muscle strength. This window opens immediately after your workout and starts to close pretty quickly. Research suggests that while protein synthesis persists for at least 48 hours after exercise, it’s most important to get post-workout nutrition immediately.
If you feed your body properly while this window is open, you’ll get the benefits. If you don’t provide adequate post exercise nutrition fast enough — even if you delay by only a couple of hours — you decrease muscle glycogen storage and protein synthesis. As soon as you drop that last dumbbell, you should be consuming some post-workout nutrition.
Good post-workout nutrition requires two things:
- Protein to aid in protein synthesis
- Carbohydrates to help replace muscle glycogen (and to enhance the role of insulin in transporting nutrients into cells)
You could certainly eat a whole food meal that meets these requirements after exercise.
However, whole food meals aren’t always practical.
- Some people aren’t hungry immediately after exercise.
- Whole food digests slowly, and we want nutrients to be available quickly.
- A whole food meal that requires refrigeration might be less practical.
On the other hand, consuming a liquid form of nutrition that contains rapidly digesting carbohydrates and proteins:
- might accelerate recovery by utilizing insulin for nutrient transport into cells;
- can result in rapid digestion and absorption; and
- is often better tolerated during and after workouts.
- Ideal window: 30 minutes after workout for post-workout protein + carbs
- Liquids over solid food is recommended – more easily digestible
- Protein and carbs ideal and lower fat as fat slows down digestion
- Have a whole food meal within an hour or two of workout
- Whey protein is the gold standard for building lean muscle mass
- Ascent is HSN Approved
- It’s a very clean whey protein, minimal ingredients and it’s tested by informed choice
- We now carry Ascent along with a variety of other proteins in our Retail store
Happy Gains #fitfam!