Post Workout Nutrition, Is It Important?
Post-workout nutrition is the most vital component to building muscle and recovering from intense workouts, practices, and games. It must be done effectively to yield the best results. But few know the right time frame to consume a post-workout meal and what foods should be eaten.
Let’s first talk about why post-workout nutrition is vital to the athlete’s success and performance. Whether adding stress on your body through an intense workout, tough practice, or physical game, the body needs to be supplied with nutrients to repair, refuel, and refresh for the next day.
Muscle growth actually happens, post-workout. Muscle growth does not happen during a workout, in fact, it is the opposite. When muscle tissue is undergoing a heavy load (for example, weight training), the fibers of the tissue are actually tearing, no growing. The only way to repair these torn muscles is through adequate rest and proper protein and carbohydrate intake within a small window of time following exercise.
If you’ve been wondering why your hard work in the gym has not shown much success or has plateaued, the following is a nutrition strategy you will want to follow:
Following your workout, you will want to consume a high lean protein and high carbohydrate meal within 45 minutes. This does not mean stop off at the nearest fast food joint and pick up a chicken sandwich or burger with fries. You will want your meal to be low fat (will provide examples below) and fit within the 45 minute time frame.
High protein, high carbohydrate, low-fat meal
The types of foods you eat within the 45-minute window post-workout are crucial. Your meals should be high in protein (recommended 30-45g protein), high carbohydrate (recommended 60-100g carbs), and low in fat (recommended less than 5g of fat). The protein and the carbohydrates play an effective duo in muscle growth and repair. The high carbs spike insulin and allow nutrients (and amino acids from the protein) to travel to the fatigued and broken down muscles faster, enhancing muscle growth and repair.
This may make sense so far, but you might be thinking, “why the low fat?” Here is the reason. When fat enters the body it takes your body much more effort to break down the fat within your digestive tract. Therefore, the blood that is carrying nutrients to your sore muscles will also have to split time with your gut to assist in the breaking down of these high fatty foods (hence the above comment about refraining from a fast food meal post-workout). We want all of the nutrients you are consuming post-workout to aid in muscle growth and repair; not digestion in the gut.
What do some of these high carb and protein meals look like with little fat? Here are some examples below:
- Whey protein shake with 2 raisin English muffins and 1/2 cup blueberries
- Whey protein shake with 1 white bagel and 4 Tbsp. Strawberry jelly
- 8 oz. chicken breast with 2 cups of white rice
- 6-8 egg whites scrambled with white potato and 8 oz. juice
- 8 oz. ground turkey with 1/2 cup jelly beans and 8 oz. sports drink
Above are perfect examples of what you want to consume following a workout for optimal muscle growth and repair. Nutrition plays a large role in the success and development of young athletes. Start implementing strategies such as this, today.