Probably the single most important meal of the day for any athlete is the post-training or post-workout meal.
Although it is important to have great nutrition around the clock, a good post training meal replenishes lost energy and nutrients, stimulates protein synthesis and will set your bodies up for a faster and a complete recovery. However, far too many athletes overlook the importance of a solid post workout meal and aren’t getting the nutrients or results they could get.
A good post training meal can come from whole foods or as a supplement. Whichever you choose there are some basic ingredients and nutrients every athlete should look for and some advanced ingredients you might want to consider when planning your post-workout meal.
Protein-And-Carbohydrate-Replenishment_4.jpgYou most likely know it’s important to keep yourself hydrated before and during your training sessions, but what you may not know is how important water is during recovery. Water helps to maintain body temperature and allows for over 50% of all chemical reactions occurring in your body. Water is also responsible for the movement of nutrients, digestion, the absorption processes, circulation, and the excretion of wastes. Being partially dehydrated can affect and slow down your recovery. You want to make sure you are getting adequate water post training too.
Your body is able to absorb 8oz to 10oz of water every 20 minutes. As a rule of thumb, you should consume water up to 15 minutes prior to your trains to ensure you’re fully hydrated before starting your training session and consume up to 8oz of water every 20 minutes during your training session.
You can follow up post training one of two ways. You can consume 10oz of water every 20 minutes. If you want to get accurate to your body’s specific needs, consume 16oz of water for every pound of body weight lost during training. For example, if you lose two pounds of body weight while training, consume 16oz of water to replenish lost fluids.
Replenish Muscle and Liver Glycogen:
Adding carbohydrates to your post-workout recovery meal has many benefits. Carbohydrates help your body to recovery faster. Carbohydrates replenish depleted energy and glycogen stores; they also cause your body to release insulin, which carries glycogen and other nutrients from the bloodstream and into your muscles and other cells.
Once you’ve finished a tough training session, your body will want to start the recovery process. However, before your body starts to repair and build muscle tissue, it will first focus on replenishing its depleted energy stores. Until you replenish your body’s energy stores (glycogen), it will not put its full effort into rebuilding muscle tissue. With this in mind, the faster and more completely you replenish your energy or glycogen stores, the faster your body will turn to repairing its muscles and the rest of your body. This is why adding a fast digesting carbohydrate to your post workout meal will go a long way in speeding up and enhancing recovery.
Consume Complete Proteins:
I’m sure you’ve heard how important it is to incorporate protein into your meals throughout the day and how important protein is in supporting your muscles, but it is critically important to have protein following a training session to heal micro tears your muscles get from training.
Protein provides branch chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are the basic building blocks for muscles. By consuming protein following your training sessions, you increase your muscle’s recovery, repair and growth potential tremendously. Research has shown that an athlete’s muscles remain in an anabolic state up to 48 hours following training and workouts.
For your muscles to heal and rebuild, they need complete combinations of amino acids. If you eat incomplete proteins your muscle may not get all the amino acid combinations they need, so make sure you’re eating complete proteins after each training session. Examples of complete proteins are meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Incomplete proteins are grains, nuts, beans and peas.
Although it is important to supply your muscles with proper nutrition around the clock for improved recovery, it is critical to supply your muscles with the nutrients they need in the first one-hour following training to fully take advantage of the anabolic window and stimulate protein synthesis. By consuming protein within the first hour, you’ll provide the BCAAs your muscles need for recovery, repair and growth. As an athlete who trains hard, it is even more vital to fully maximize every opportunity your bodies give you for better development. By supplying your muscles with protein immediately following a training session, you are promoting and encouraging protein synthesis and better muscle recovery.
Whole Meals vs. Supplements:
When it comes to post-workout nutrition replenishment, there are tow obvious paths you can take. The path of whole food or the path of sports supplements. Whichever you decide there are some key ingredients you need to make sure you’re incorporating into your post workout meal plan.
Protein-And-Carbohydrate-Replenishment-After-Training.jpgFor whole food, you need to make sure we’re getting protein, carbohydrates, antioxidants and water. Protein can come from a variety or sources such as beef, chicken, fish, tuna, eggs, etc. Whichever you choose, make sure to stick with lean sources of protein. For carbohydrates, look to incorporate sweet potatoes, rice, potatoes, pasta, Greek yogurt, etc. For antioxidants, this may not be as commonly suggested, but after a tough training session, your body is littered with ammonia, lactic acid and other cell pollutants. The better, you can handle and remove these cell pollutants, the healthier your body will be and the faster it will recover. You can get a healthy dose of antioxidants from foods such as açaí, wild blueberries, a variety of beans, cranberries, etc. Don’t forget water. You want to make sure you have plenty of water to wash it all down and help your bodies rehydrate and work at its maximum potential to fully recover.
If you choose supplements as you post-workout recovery solution, there are several benefits you can gain through using a post workout supplement like Recover Surge. These are especially beneficial if we’re training extra hard and your recovery needs a boost as it would while training twice a day if you’re in a training camp or you’re competing in extreme conditions.
Much like whole food, you’ll want to consume key nutrients such as proteins and carbohydrates to ensure complete recovery by your muscles. However, with the right supplements you can speed up recovery faster than you can by consuming whole food alone. Unfortunately, not all supplements are made the same, so knowing which ingredients to look for makes a world of difference. Below are some of the key ingredients I recommend to look for in a post workout supplement.
BCAAs and/or Protein: As already covered above, protein provides BCAAs, which are the building blocks of muscles, so getting these in are necessary. One benefit of consuming BCAAs vs. Protein is that they will get into our muscles faster and promote protein syntheses quicker. However, a protein supplement will work fine here too; just make sure the protein is a fast digesting protein like the whey protein used in Whey-Pro 5.
Creatine and/or Carbohydrates: Creatine is naturally found in muscles and it is the second source of energy muscles use. Adding creatine to your post-workout recovery regimen helps to replenish your body’s used energy stores quicker and helps your body start the recovery process faster. Some individuals worry about creatine and have experienced bloating and water retention while using creatine. Much like other supplements, creatine has come a long way since its early days. There are several high-quality creatines on the market today as well as blends of different types of high-quality creatines, which don’t cause any of the side effects the early creatines did. If you go with a carbohydrate, be sure to pick a high-quality carbohydrate supplement like Glyco-Muscle Fueler, which absorbs into your muscles 18.1% faster than leading carbohydrates supplements and since it is sugar-free it won't cause a spike and crash in energy. High-quality carbohydrates offer other benefits such as making other ingredients that are taking with them more soluble and more easily absorbed into your muscles, which mean a faster and a complete recovery.
L-Glutamine: L-Glutamine is another great ingredient to incorporate into a post-workout recovery regimen. L-Glutamine assists in reducing muscle catabolism while supporting protein synthesis and lean muscle repair and growth. Glutamine also boosts the immune system, supports intestinal health and enhances digestion, while improving rehydration and electrolyte uptake. Adding l-glutamine, post training will go a long way to boosting recovery. Much like creatine, l-glutamine has come a long way from its early days.
Electrolytes: Electrolytes are chemicals that form ions in body fluids. They help make sure your body functions and runs at optimal levels. During training, your body loses electrolytes, which affect your body’s functionality from nerve impulses, the function of organs and how well your muscles work. To optimize your recovery, replenishing electrolytes is something that should not be overlooked. With replenished electrolytes, your body will work at optimal functionality and improve recovery.
Antioxidants/Muscle Cleanse Ingredients: Like with whole food, antioxidant ingredients are beneficial to incorporate within post training supplements too. As mentioned before, your body is littered with lactic acid, ammonia and other cell pollutants after tough training and competitions. Helping your body to remove these cell pollutants will go a long way in your overall health and recovery. However, just a note of caution when choosing an antioxidants supplement. You don’t want to go overboard on antioxidants especially after your workouts. Studies have shown taking excessively high dosages can do more harm than good, by not allowing our bodies to go through the normal recovery processes. Stick to supplements that have moderate amounts of antioxidants as you would find in food or a little more, but not a ridiculous amount. Additionally, some antioxidant ingredients have been shown to help with joint and muscle inflammation, reduce muscle soreness and support the immune system. You can find these ingredients individually or within a blend or matrix of ingredients within your post-training supplement.
A final note on post workout supplements. Even if you do use a post workout supplement after your training, you should follow up with a whole food meal within the one hour to two-hour mark after training. Supplements can play an important role in post training recovery and can speed up your body’s recovery faster than whole food alone, but they should never take the place of whole food.