In this article we will discuss:
- What post workout nutrition is,
- What people usually eat after training,
- What happens during and after workout,
- What to consume after finished weight training,
- Nutrients order and comments about usual choices,
- Food that should be avoided after working out,
- Post workout nutrition example of professional bodybuilders.
What is Post Workout Nutrition
By post workout nutrition I mean the first thing we eat after finishing all exercises, still in the gym, in the locker room or straight after getting out of there. It’s the most important meal of the day; more important than the breakfast.
After finished weight training our body is very depleted. We feel very hungry for 1 or even up to 2 hours after workout. This time is often called an ‘anabolic window’. Food eaten during this time is digested and transported to your muscles very fast. Most of guys feel that it’s actually ‘melting’ in their stomach and that they can eat much more than during other time of the day.
What people usually eat after training
Most of beginning trainees don’t really understand what they should eat after finished training. Some guys eat bananas for example, some drink protein shakes and others consume energy drinks. There’s also a group that simply go home smoking cigarettes without worrying about anything. They don’t realize how important this time is.
What happens during and after workout
During training we use sugar stored in our muscles (glycogen) and blood sugar (glucose) as energy. Usually most of the glycogen from muscles is used (depleted). When we run out of it and we won’t replenish it on time, our bodies might start breaking up the muscle tissue and use proteins as a fuel. Basically we might be losing muscle mass – it’s called catabolism.
What to consume after finished weight training
To reverse this process and start growing again we should provide our body with the right type of nutrition as fast as we can. This way we stop catabolism and set body back in the anabolic (growth) state. We will divide post workout nutrition in 3 parts:
First thing after finished workout we need to do is to refuel our muscles with glycogen. To do it we simply have to consume some food containing carbohydrates what causes the body to produce insulin – the most powerful anabolic hormone. In other words – you have to eat some carbs to refuel the body and start to grow again. Examples:
- Fruit, honey;
- Rice, pasta or potatoes;
- Drink with high amount of carbs in it (might be water with glucose).
As a second part of post workout nutrition we have to consume some protein to provide our muscles with building material for the growth. For example:
- Chicken breast or steak,
- Can of tuna or cottage cheese,
- Protein shake…
Third ingredient also very important is water. Particles of glucose connect with water to form glycogen. It fills-up muscles making them look bigger and stores energy to lift weights again. Water also helps to transport nutrients around the body.
So really you have few options here:
- Bring some food containing carbohydrates with you to the gym like couple bananas; glucose or honey diluted with water and consume it straight after finished workout. Then go home and eat some proteins.
- Bring complete meal with you like rice and chicken; pasta with tuna for example or carbohydrate supplement with protein shake if you live far away from the gym.
If you don’t live far away, you can wait till you get home and eat typical bodybuilding meal. Of course drink some water along.
Nutrients order and comments about usual choices
The right order of nutrients is essential. Remember – first carbohydrates, second proteins. Once you eat some carbs your body gets a kick – starts to produce insulin which packs nutrients into muscles and promotes growth.
It’s ok if you consume everything together, at once. But if you’ll eat some protein first or completely without carbs it will be a waste – your body might use it as the energy (convert it to glucose). That’s why drinking protein shake on its own is a mistake.
On the other hand eating only carbohydrates like few bananas or energy drink without providing some protein as a building material is also wrong. Although it will stop the catabolism (breakdown of muscles) we will not grow.
Water can be drunk at any stage. You can dilute your glucose, honey or other supplement with it or just drink it on its own after.
Type of food that should be avoided after working out
The one thing we should avoid post workout is products full of fat. Our body releases much stored energy (fat) during training. Eating chips, nuggets, doughnuts or other deep fried food straight after might cause some fat gain because of that. Instead of getting more muscular we will be getting fatter. Nobody wants it.
Food containing much fat also slows down metabolism. Nutrients at this time should be transported around the body as fast as it’s possible. Fat slows it down. It also makes us feel lethargic. It’s ok to eat it later throughout the day just not straight after exercising.
What professional bodybuilders eat post workout
Most of professional bodybuilders consume the mix of glucose (dextrose) with maltodextrin in a ratio 50/50. Glucose is one of the fastest digested carbohydrates. It is very high on a glycemic index list that’s why it’s ideal after finished workout. Maltodextrin is also digested fast however keeps glucose elevated for longer period of time. They both come in a form of powder which is mixed with water and drunk very often straight after or even before finishing the last exercise.
Of course some source of protein is consumed as well like protein shake and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA).
This is a fast and simple way to refuel your body with depleted nutrients however normal food isn’t any worse than supplements, it’s even better. That’s why many of pro bodybuilders consume just normal bodybuilding meal after workout.
Post workout nutrition is the most important meal of the day so take it serious. By consuming it straight after finished training you’ll kick start the anabolism, create positive muscle building environment in the body and avoid losing mass. To make it right you have to provide some carbohydrates first to replenish used energy, then protein and water as a building material for your muscles. Avoid junk and deep fried food.
You can eat this meal whole at once – all nutrition together, for example rice and chicken (bring a meal in a tray with you to the gym).
You cans also divide it and consume carbs first (some fruit and water with honey or glucose) and protein after – half a chicken or a steak when you get home.
Post workout time is extremely important for the growth of our muscles. Our body is in a depleted state then and digest everything very fast. Make sure to take advantage of it. Eat much the right type of nutrition relatively fast. It will stop catabolism and begin the process of recovery and growth.