Sunday, March 24, 2013

Post-Workout Nutrition

Experts are always arguing about what and when to eat after intense exercise. One thing is clear: your body needs replenishment when you've just expended almost all the energy you have and ridiculously torn down those muscles. The question is what and when.

I got this excerpt from an article by Ryan Andrews from that I believe sums it up nicely. 

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.

Data indicate that it may only take about 20 grams of protein after a workout to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis. The combination of carbohydrate and amino acids during/after exercise creates a stimulatory effect of growth hormone and testosterone that doesn’t happen  during the rest of the day. In other words, if you just drink a carb + protein drink while sitting on the couch, it won’t have the same effect.

However, not all workouts require immediate replenishment. Save your workout drink for weight training, interval, and endurance training lasting 45 minutes or longer. Casual exercise like walking the dog, moving cobblestones for grandpa, or riding your bike to the arcade doesn’t require a recovery drink.

When performing energy expenditure work to burn energy or lose fat, a recovery drink is not necessary. If you’re prioritizing fat loss, performance and recovery from these sessions are not as important as creating an energy deficit.

Once your workout is complete, have a whole food meal within an hour or two.

I hope that simplifies why our bodies need replenishment after some types of exercise, what kinds of replenishment we need, and how quickly we need it.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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