Proper post workout nutrition can help you recover from workouts, build muscle mass, reduce soreness and improve your body’s ability to burn fat. With all these benefits post workout nutrition is very important to understand
The main goal of post workout nutrition is to support the following function:
- Restore glycogen storage and refuel your body
- Prevent protein muscle breakdown
- Promote muscle repair and growth
- Hydrate your body
- Support immune function
How can you build muscle fast with post workout nutrition?
Post workout nutrition is one aspect of fitness that is often overlooked by many people. But what you consume after an intense workout can make a huge difference in your result. A healthy post workout meal can provide adequate fuel to your body. Post workout nutrition is also important for your muscles to replenish and recover from exercise. Without proper nutrition, you will feel fatigued and wouldn’t be able to perform well during the next workout. In this AnExtraRep article. We will discuss the importance of post workout nutrition and how it can help you build muscle fast.
Why is post workout nutrition important?
Have you ever felt tired or dizzy after an intense training session? This is because our body consumes a lot of nutrients during training to carry out the exercise. Your body uses carbohydrates as the main source of energy to fuel your exercise. Hence, you are likely to experience low energy after a workout session. You don’t give your body and muscles what it needs to refuel itself, you will feel fatigued and dizzy. Hence, post-workout nutrition is important to recover and repair muscle damage and to prepare for the next workout.
During exercise, our body uses carbohydrates that are stored in muscle glycogen. This leads to depletion in glycogen storage and you feel tired. Hence, post-workout nutrients help your body rebuild glycogen stores.
Post-workout nutrition also decreases muscle protein breakdown and repair as well as builds muscle tissues. Your exercise can cause electrolytes and fluid to decrease due to excess sweating. Thus, post workout nutrition helps you avoid dehydration.
What happens to your body post exercise?
Muscle growth is a complex process and involves many changes within your body. While doing an exercise your body produces lactic acid (the burning feeling). This is due to the anaerobic breakdown of carbohydrates. In response to lactic acid buildup, the body releases growth hormones, which support muscle gain. During a high-intensity workout, your glycogen level also becomes depleted. Glycogen is the main fuel that allows your muscles to perform the exercise. Besides that, your testosterone and cortisol level are also increased. Besides, many more physiological changes occur during a weight training session. Your post-workout nutrition can help regulate these activities and compensate for the loss.
What to eat in post workout nutrition for muscle gain and recovery?
What you decide to eat can impact your benefits of exercise. There are certain nutrients that our body requires to refuel and build muscles. Ensuring your post workout meal consists of these nutrients can help you recover fast.
Eat carbs to restore the fuel
Your exercise uses carbohydrates for energy. Due to that, your muscle carbohydrates are likely to be depleted. So it is important to consume enough carbs to refill your muscle energy store.
Carbs intake can promote insulin release, and protein repair and increase protein repair. Pay attention to the quality of carbs you consume post workout. Research suggests that eating 0.5-0.7grams of carbs per pound of body weight within 30 mins can help you restore glycogen. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18834505/
Complex or whole carbs help you with regular blood sugar because they contain a high amount of healthy fiber. Whereas refined carbs like pasta, white bread, and rice can spike blood sugar, which is not very desirable for optimal results.
Fulfill the protein demand
After exercise, your body reduces the rate of protein synthesis and increases its rate of protein breakdown. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1280254/ This is why getting a large amount of protein is a crucial part of post-workout nutrition. Protein provides all amino acids needed by your body to repair muscle protein that is broken down during exercise. Research suggests consuming 0.14–0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight after a workout. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18834505/
Fats are not bad
Fats don’t play a major role in post workout nutrition. Many people believe fats can slow digestion and can reduce the rate of absorption of essential nutrients. It’s true that a large amount of fat intake is bad after a workout. But that doesn’t mean you will cut fats from your diet. You can still consume a small number of healthy fats. Eat a good mix of carbs and protein that also contain some fat.
What are post workout nutrition supplements?
Whey protein Whey protein is the purest form of protein that is absorbed by your muscles rapidly. This gives your muscles the required nutrients to repair after a workout. Whey is considered to be fast-absorbing, which provides an immediate supply of amino acids to kick start protein synthesis. Dairy-based protein powders are common and usually come as whey and casein. Many protein companies are making vegan protein powder using pea and soy.
Bcaa’s Leucine, Iso-Leucine, and Valine together comprise about 35% of amino acids in muscle. It reduces exercise-related fatigue & improves the immune system. While consuming Whey Protein is good, having amino acids in their most basic form speeds up recovery.
Vitamin C Vitamin C is one of the best supplements for controlling exercise-induced cortisol levels. It can allow your body to better metabolize protein and help then repair. Vitamin C supplement may also be helpful in reducing muscle soreness and inflammation. Take at least 500 mg (1 Tab) of Vitamin C
Multivitamin During exercise the body flushes not only fluid but also electrolytes and minerals. It’s good to have a nice Multivitamin readily available.
What is the best timing for your post workout nutrition?
Timing of your post workout nutrition is an important factor to consider. As we discussed above, your muscles are depleted and need an urgent supply of carbs and protein after exercise. Hence, it’s a good idea to consume your post workout meal as soon as possible after training. Researchers recommend eating a post workout meal within 45 minutes after exercise. When post workout nutrition is delayed by two hours, it may reduce the rate of glycogen synthesis by 50%. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24149627/
Your body’s ability to utilize nutrients to build and repair muscles are at a prime rate after you exercise. This timing is often referred to as the ‘post workout nutrition window’. When the body doesn’t receive nutrition right after exercise, this window gradually closes over time. Experts say a post workout meal immediately after exercise is best to benefit from the window period than consuming it 1 hour later.
What to eat after a workout to lose weight and build muscle
The following food options can be a great addition to your post workout nutrition. These foods can promote steady recovery and help your body to absorb nutrients quickly.
Eggs- Eggs are an easily available source of complete protein. The amino acid leucine in eggs plays a major role in muscle gain. They can also help lose weight by suppressing your hunger. Consume whole eggs without leaving the yolk. Research says that eating whole eggs can promote protein synthesis more than eating only egg white.
Chicken- Chicken is an excellent complete protein food ideal for post workout nutrition. They offer all the amino acids required to promote muscle repair and growth. It also contains a great amount of vitamin B, which keeps you active. Research suggests that eating chicken can aid fat loss and help build muscles.
Banana- banana is a good source of complex carbs, potassium that can fuel you up after exercise. Being rich in resistant starch, bananas can fulfill you as well as aid weight loss. Grap two fresh bananas after exercise or try making a delicious shake.
Potatoes- Potatoes are the most versatile carb-rich food. They contain many vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and potassium. After an intense training session, baked potatoes can be an excellent fuel to your body.
Fatty fish- Fatty fish like salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3 fatty acids boost the synthesis of muscle protein and increase the size of muscle cells.
Greek yogurt is a good dairy-based quality protein. Greek yogurt contains double the amount of protein when compared to regular yogurt. It contains both whey protein and casein protein. Whey protein is a fast-digesting protein and casein digests slowly. When two of them are combined, they can help promote protein synthesis.
What to drink after a workout to lose weight and build muscle
Protein shake- Whey protein shakes are popular post workout nutrients among athletes. Whey is the purest form of protein that can absorb immediately and boost protein synthesis after a workout.
Water- Human muscles are made of 75% of water. An adequate amount of fluid is essential for muscle repair and growth. After exercising intensely, it is imperative to hydrate yourself. Drinking enough water before, during, and after exercise will ensure you get the most benefits from the workout.
Herbal drinks- Herbal drinks like green tea or yerba can enhance how your body absorbs post workout nutrition. One researcher compared the effect of drinking water after exercise to drinking yerba mate. It was found that those who drank yerba mate recovered faster in 24 hours.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26917157/
Tart juice- tart juice is an effective post workout drink to reduce muscle soreness. It contains rich antioxidants that soothe inflammation and help in muscle recovery. Besides that, tart juice can also prevent strength loss.
Green tea is one of the best relaxing and fat-burning drinks. It contains caffeine and an active compound of catechin – a powerful antioxidant. These antioxidants help speed up metabolism and release fatty acids from fat cells. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19597519/
Caffeine found in green tea also helps in weight loss and improves exercise performance.
It also helps in reducing muscle soreness and recovering muscle strength.
What not to eat in a post workout meal?
A combination of carbs and protein is your go-to post workout nutrition. But certain foods might not be so good to eat after exercise. These are some foods you should avoid post workout.
Nuts- while nuts are rich in protein, they also contain a high amount of fats. Raw nuts like almond and nut butter can be a great snack option but for post workout nutrition, so much. A high amount of fat can slow down digestion and the absorption rate of other nutritions.
High-fat fast food- Processed and refined food is the worst food you can eat after exercise. Fast food tends to be high in fat and calories, which can negate all your workout during training.
Raw vegetables – No, vegetables are not your enemies at all. But eating just raw vegetables doesn’t provide enough nutrition to fuel your muscle energy store. These vegetables are good low-calorie food but lack enough nutrition required by your body after a workout.
Soda and sugary drinks- Reaching out for soda and sweetened drinks is the worst way to hydrate yourself after exercise. It can increase your calorie intake as well as slow down your metabolism.
Salted potato chips- Potato chips come with concentrated fat and a high amount of salt to enhance the flavor. While sodium intake may help after sweating in the gym, a high amount of salt can do more harm than good. These chips have zero nutrient value as they lose their vitamins and minerals when fried. Hence, you should avoid eating them after workout.
Post Workout Nutrition Summary
Getting results is not only about what you do at the gym. The bigger part of the game is what you give to your body after all the hard work. Post workout nutrition is essential to fuel your body after work out and increase muscle mass. Grab your plate full of carbs and protein right after work out. It is also important to provide your muscles and body with nutrition at the right time. Eating your post workout meal immediately is always more beneficial than eating after an hour.