No other athletes require postworkout nutrition the way bodybuilders do. For many years pro bodybuilders, who made their living from lifting
weights, eating and sleeping, weren't aware of the benefits of eating after they trained. Hoping to be in a maximum growth state, and then
not eating to support that objective, is one of the biggest catastrophes a bodybuilder can stage for himself And make no mistake. He is the
one controlling his own growth. He may just may not believe that.
The most important meal in any bodybuilder's day is that post workout meal which infuses the body with carbohydrates and a replenished supply of glycogen. It can transform a muscle which begins to dip into a catabolic phase (muscle feeding on itself for repair) and push it in the opposite direction into the anabolic (muscle building) phase. I'll use an analogy that could be disgusting to some readers, but which aptly makes my point.
Let's say, God forbid, you were in a plane crash, and you survived, but are now among a handful of other survivors in a remote and desolate area. You've long since eaten the remainder of the airline food and have gone through the peanuts and juices and just about anything that could sustain you. You might be stranded there for some time before being rescued. Some guy in your group gets a weird look in his eyes and starts to feed on the flesh of the passengers who weren't so lucky. This is the same idea that your muscles get when you don't feed them after they've become depleted and exhausted. When your muscles are in a state of crisis, and they feel starvation coming on, they feed on the protein stores of their own kind.
If there had been an unlimited supply of food on board the aircraft or in the area where you crashed, none of the passengers would ever choose to feed on a substance which is identical to their own body. It wasn't meant to happen that way. You'd eat berries or fish or something else, but you wouldn't feast on human remains. Every time you go into the gym, finish a hard workout, and then fail to eat, this plane-crash scenario is happening in the mitochondria of each muscle cell. You're surviving on your own flesh!
The problem is much more complicated, however, than your muscles simply feeding on themselves. Your body doesn't automatically send the message to feed on itself by using the protein found in the muscle wall. During a ball-busting workout you deplete so much glycogen that your muscles are sure to be in a state of panic and starvation. If you don't feed them almost immediately, everything you have worked so hard to attain during your arduous workout will be lost.
So what's the best food you can feed your muscles after a workout? Surprisingly many people think it's protein. They reason that, because the muscles are composed of pure protein in the form of amino acids, supplementing solely with protein such as meat, fish or fowl, or with a handful of BCAAs will do the trick. Protein is part of the equation, but it's not the main factor. Carbohydrate is most important to the muscle in this phase because it replenishes the stores of glycogen, the substance which keeps the muscles feeling full, hydrated and strong. Carbohydrate prevents the muscles from feeding on themselves.
Let's not discount protein altogether, for it's responsible for the building process. BCAAs, as well as other amino acids, are truly important in making actual muscle gains in the process of anabolism, but carbohydrate is the foundation of muscle growth. When you've finished a grueling workout, your first concern should be to prevent catabolism, and that's what carbohydrate does. Once you have stabilized the muscle with carbohydrate, and have replenished those stores in the muscle cells, then you can worry about the type of amino acids you want to feed your muscles to continue the growth and rebuilding process.
Eating carbohydrates can turn a muscle on the verge of catabolism into a muscle on the verge of anabolism in a heartbeat, but the success or failure of this theory depends on how you manipulate your carbohydrate intake after a workout. Carbohydrates eaten after any extreme physical exertion (read: workout) automatically stimulate and release insulin into the system.
Insulin is an anabolic hormone. If you are dieting and are carbohydrate sensitive, this process may sound like a detriment, but since you are consuming carbs to support muscle gain - even while concentrating on fat loss - you must make this sacrifice. You have to make this allowance after a workout to maintain enough muscle to continue fat loss and an increase in metabolic rate. Having insulin floating around in the body typically means that your blood-sugar level is very high. Believe me, this is the point after a workout.
Insulin performs three important functions during the recovery process:
o Insulin is responsible for driving all sugars - either simple or complex - derived from carbohydrate foods into the muscles, where they can be stored as glycogen for the next workout.
o Insulin acts as a catalyst in the delivery of amino acids from protein sources into muscle tissue to promote new growth.
o Insulin is capable of neutralizing cortisol, a hormone released into the system during a hard workout which is often catabolic if released in high enough concentrations.
When insulin drives sugar (carbohydrate that has been broken down by the body into sugar) into the muscles, it is for the next workout. It's a process of storage. You want to build enough glycogen stores on the day before a workout so that you aren't down to nil at the end of the next day's grueling session. Unfortunately amateurs read about a new loading product and believe drinking this carb drink or mixing that quick-energy (sugar) packet will support their training on that particular day.
Advertising has been misleading consumers many years in this way. Sure, quick sugar can reach the bloodstream and cross the blood/brain barrier in no time at all, thereby supplying the body with superficial energy. The reasoning is that pushing your blood sugar that high before training will cause you to be more alert and adept at getting in a good workout. Once this layer of sugar is burned off, however, it will have masked the glycogen depletion in the muscles, and both energy and strength will sharply drop. When it comes to ingesting good nutrition, why in hell do you need simple empty sugar? You don need it Get the real thing. Eat pure carbohydrate after your workout, not before. Eating sugars or carbs before training does nothing in the way of replenishing the muscles.
The process of using carbs to promote daily growth isn't rocket science. Women should eat about 2 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight, whereas men should consume about 3 grams per pound of bodyweight. To maximize that window of opportunity for growth, ingest approximately 25 percent of your carbohydrates just after a workout. Take that percentage of carbs to the gym with you every day and dig in immediately. If you're a woman and usually eat your carbohydrates before three o'clock in the afternoon (often planned that way for optimal fat loss), make sure you train sometime during the morning so that you can taper your carbs for your daily time deadline.
A 200-pound man eating 3 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight will be ingesting about 600 grams of carbs daily. Calculate 25 percent of that figure, and the 200-pound bodybuilder should eat approximately 150 grams of carbs immediately after his workout. A 130-pound woman taking in 2 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight daily would be ingesting a total of 260 grams of carbs. Calculate 25 percent of that amount and you determine a woman of that weight needs 65 grams of carbs just after a workout.
Now, the question is, what type of carbohydrate serves the muscles best? Some say lower-glycemic carbs do the trick; however, since the purpose of eating carbs is not only to replenish glycogen stores, but also to cause the release of insulin into the system, try to select complex and simple carbs in a ratio of approximately 3:1. In other words, get three complex carbs and one simple carb. If you need to make your carbs lower glycemic throughout the remainder of the day or preceding your workout, plan accordingly.
The 200-pound man should eat approximately 113 grams of carbs from a complex source and about 37 grams from a simple source. This requirement could be supplied by 4-1/2 ounces of Cream of Rice! Wheat, a 12-ounce yam, and six slices of wheat bread from the complex list, plus 1/2 to 3/4 cup of dried fruit. The 130-pound woman should eat approximately 65 grams of post workout carbs, which she could obtain from 2 ounces of Cream of Wheat/Rice, a 6-ounce yam, and a couple of slices of wheat toast/bread from the complex list, plus about 1/2 cup applesauce and 1 tablespoon of raisins.