Best Choices for Post Workout Meals & Foods for Optimal Exercise Recovery

Post-Workout Nutrition

Workout Outside the Gym is as Essential as Inside for Results

Post exercise nutrition is critical to both recovery and subsequent exercise performance, so we're always glad to address this topic. We'll also explain the dynamics of recovery, so you can understand the science behind recommendations of post exercise food and drink intake.

After training, a bodybuilder's goals are threefold: to rehydrate, to replenish energy, and to repair and replace structural and contractile elements. To accomplish these goals, you need to take in the proper amount of carbs, protein and water.

During the hours following exercise, your metabolism and oxygen intake normalize, and your body replenishes glycogen stores (which were burned for energy to sustain your workout) and begins to reconstruct damaged cell structures. What you eat following exercise replenishes glycogen both in your muscles and liver, and also leads to hormonal changes that support muscle growth. How much your glycogen levels were depleted depends on the duration and intensity of your workout, as well as how your body was fueled going into training.

Glycogen is mainly replenished with dietary carbohydrate, but protein intake is also helpful because there is a synergistic effect on insulin secretion when you combine carbs with protein. In many scientific studies, consumption of protein along with carbs led to a greater rise in insulin than consuming carbs alone. A high level of insulin is beneficial I to muscle growth and repair, shuttling amino acids and glucose into cells to meet metabolic demands. Further, I the combination of protein and carbs leads to a higher rate of muscle glycogen storage than with carbs alone. If you have access only to carbs after exercise, your recovery will still progress nicely; protein just enhances muscle glycogen and protein synthesis, as well as hormone release. Of course, fluid must also be replaced to the tune of two cups per pound of bodyweight lost during exercise.

After training, concentrate on high-glycemic carbs, such as sport drinks, baked potatoes, bagels, and most breads and cereals (not oatmeal), because they will be absorbed most rapidly. These carbs should be consumed within 30 minutes of completing your training to jump-start the recovery process.

Since it's often impractical or even impossible to cook or prepare a meal right after training, a meal-replacement drink can easily provide the recommended ratio of carbs and protein. For a good insulin response, look for a drink or food combination containing approximately 50 grams (g) of carbs and 30 g of protein. You could also have a protein drink and a bagel, the traditional chicken breast and baked potato, a turkey sandwich, or eggs and toast. Now is not the time to skimp on carbs, as your body needs them to recover.

For your next meal, you should consume both carbohydrates and protein. This meal should include 50 to f 00 g of complex carbohydrates and about 50 g of protein. Since you have already provided your body with simple carbs to start the recovery process, you should now consume complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes or brown rice to provide a slower burning fuel source to maintain the recovery and muscle-building processes.

To complete recovery, consume additional meals every two to three hours until you go to bed. Continue to consume complex carbohydrates at each subsequent meal if muscle growth is your primary goal. If you also want to keep your bodyfat low, reduce carbohydrate consumption during evening meals.

Follow these guidelines for post training recovery, and you'll see great results.

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