Everyone knows that feeding your body the proper nutrients post workout is vital to your progress. However, it is hard to know what the best option is. Should you drink that protein shake on your drive home? Should you consume all your carbs in your anabolic window? There are so many different outlets telling you the next best thing but it all comes down to re-feeding the muscle so it can rebuild.
I would like to preface this article with the fact, that we always encourage our customers to get their nutrients first and foremost from actual food. Supplements, should do just what they say, supplement nutrients when your food diet falls short.
During a workout, our bodies can use up all of our stored glycogen, we can sweat over two liters of water and we break down both muscle and red blood cells. Therefore your post workout meal is perhaps one of the most important meals of the day as it replenishes your body. When recovering, we should keep in mind that we aim to:
- Replenish our glycogen storage;
- Consume protein to decrease protein breakdown while increasing protein synthesis; and
- Restore fluid;
There is a period post workout which has been labeled your "anabolic window" (which I refer to as The Window of Opportunity), this is typically approximately within one hour post workout when your body is the most receptive to replenishment. It does not mean that if you eat your meal at 65 minutes, all is lost, it just may be ever so slightly less receptive.
Carbohydrates – Eating carbs after training is critical as it replenishes your glycogen stores and initiates glycogen synthesis. Most suggest that individuals should consume between .25-.4 grams of carbs per pound of their body.
Protein – Each time we workout, muscle is broken down, it is therefore essential during our non-training hours to rebuild the muscles. After a workout you should be consuming amino acids from quality protein sources. Athletes should consume approximately 20-40 grams of protein within the first hour of post exercise. Since it is often difficult to get the proper amino acid replenishment, also check out our Refuel which can be consumed in addition to your protein.
Rehydration – After a workout you likely are in a fluid deficit, therefore you should consume 125% of the estimated fluid lost over a four to six hour period post exercise. Many athletes also include sodium as part of their recovery to replace the electrolytes lost during a workout. 55-80 mmol of sodium is sufficient.The most important part to remember when planning for The Window of Opportunity, is to prepare before your workout. Plan in your mind what you are going to eat and cook it prior to your workout so that you can come home and eat immediately after training. Often times we make such progress in the gym only to not achieve optimal results because we are not planning our nutrition. Meal prepping isn't just for bodybuilders, it has a host of advantages including ensuring you are eating within that window.