Why is Post Workout Nutrition so Important & What can you do to get best results?
Before answering this question we need to understand what happens to our body after an intense workout session.
What happens to our body POST Exercise
- While doing an intense workout our body produces Lactic Acid (the burn feeling), this is due to the anaerobic breakdown of carbohydrates.
- Body releases Growth Hormone in response the Lactic acid Build up. More Growth Hormone means more muscle and less fat.
- Cortisol level is increased. Cortisol is a stress hormone which is necessary for fat burning but excess of it can cause muscle breakdown.
- Testosterone levels are increased but they decline shortly after.
- Muscle Glycogen (Sugar or Carbohydrate levels) and blood sugar level are reduced.
- Fluids, electrolytes and minerals are lost during exercise.
- Insulin receptors on muscle tissue become more sensitive.
- Glucose transport system is affected, after workout muscle glycogen resynthesis becomes more important and body prefers carb storage in muscles.
Phew!!! And the list goes on…
As you can see there are huge physiological changes happening in the body after a weight training session.
An ideal post workout meal strategy should take care of these points and focus on building muscle at the same time minimizing fat gain.
Eating for recovery & Growth
The purpose of post workout meal is to control cortisol, replenish fluid and nutrient levels, restore muscle glycogen level and provide our body with enough amino acids to build & repair muscle tissue.
- Eat Carbohydrate – Yes, Post Workout is one of the best times to consume carbohydrates. If you are on a low carbohydrate diet, adjust them around post & pre workouts meals.
- Eat Protein – Protein provides the basics of muscle building. Having a carbohydrate meal after workout increases the blood sugar level in body which in turns cause insulin spike. As insulin is a storage hormone it stores available amino acids in the muscles.
- Take Bcaa’s – Leucine, Iso-Leucine and Valine together comprises about 35% of amino acids in muscle. It reduces exercise related fatigue & improves immune system. While consuming Whey Protein is good, having amino acids in its most basic form speeds up recovery.
- Take Vitamin C – Vitamin C is one of the best available supplements for controlling exercise induced cortisol level. Take at least 500 mg (1 Tab) of Vitamin C
- Take Multi-Vitamin – During exercise body flushes not only fluid but also electrolytes and minerals. It’s good to have nice Multi- Vitamin readily available.
Ideal Post workout food options
Food items that high in Protein
Food high in Quick Carbs
Glucose or Dextrose
What not to eat in POST workout meals
As I mention above, Post Workout is a time when we want to maximize Muscle gains while minimizing fat storage. So,
- Fat nutrients – Avoid foods high in Fat, even if they are rich in protein. Since body is primed for absorbing nutrients we don’t want to present it with fatty acids so they can be stored.
- Junk food – This may sound out of place, but many people have a tendency of eating junk food, the rationale here is “Eat anything and burn in the gym” or “I worked hard in the gym, now I deserve this little treat“. Don’t give in to these temptations.
- Empty calories – Needless to say don’t take Alcohol. While Alcohol is rich in calories, it does not provide any vital nutrient or muscle building amino acid.
Well that’s a lot of information. I hope you make best use of it. If you have anything to share or want to ask any question, feel free to add in comments below.