The Most Important Post Workout Nutrients

The Most Important Post Workout Nutrients

post-workout food

The main purpose of weight training is to gain muscle. More muscle equals more strength, more definition, and a higher metabolic rate to encourage fat burning. To enable your muscles to grow bigger and stronger you first need to obliterate them through lifting heavy weights, then consume not just increased calories however the right calories as well.

Following an intense weight training session, you will have significantly reduced your muscles glycogen levels (storage from of carbs), they will therefore now begin to breakdown the protein they are made up of. This period of time post training is referred to as the anabolic window, which is the time where your muscles crave nutrition and will quickly absorb and take in higher amounts of any nutrients you decide to feed them.

Research claims this anabolic window lasts for forty-five minutes following your training and is the optimum time to turn your body into an anabolic state of recovery and muscle growth. This does not mean you have this length of time consume nutrients; it is the amount of time you have for the nutrients to get to your muscles. Therefore, ideally you need to be thinking about your post working nutrition immediately following training. Take longer than this anabolic window, and you will compromise your opportunity for optimum muscle growth and recovery.

To take full advantage of this forty-five minute window, aim to consume the following six important post workout nutrients as quickly as you can following training.

1. Whey Protein

The fastest absorbing protein source you can consume, hence perfect for reaching your deprived muscles quickly following intense training and within the forty-five minute anabolic window. Whey protein triggers protein synthesis. Without doubt, this post workout nutrient is the most important you can consume.

2. Casein Protein

Whilst research shows whey protein encourages muscle protein synthesis, it also shows that by consuming casein protein alongside you can lengthen the time it goes on for and enhance muscle growth even further. Various protein supplements are available that combine whey and casein protein to make things more convenient.

3. Fast Digesting Carbohydrates

Slow digesting carbs such as oats or fruit are not ideal here, as they will not reach your muscles in time. Save them for pre workout to provide sustained energy whilst you train. You need to replenish your glycogen levels quickly post workout to provide adequate energy in time for your next training session, add some dextrose in your post workout shake to achieve this.

4. Branched Chained Amino Acids

BCAA’s (leucine, isoleucine and valine) are the most important amino acids required by your body to promote new muscle growth. According to recent studies, leucine is the biggest contributor to kick starting the protein synthesis process.

5. Creatine

For optimum strength and energy, you need to ensure your creatine levels inside your muscle cells are kept high. This is not always easy to achieve through food alone, especially when these levels are depleted post workout. This is therefore the best time to maximise and benefit from creatine uptake. Taken alongside fast digesting carbs with give it that extra push to get into your system quicker.

6. Beta-Alanine

Studies have shown that this amino acid can further the strength and energy benefits provided through creatine. Studies also show beta-alanine itself can be critical to maintaining muscle and improving endurance.

Research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning stated that participants who were given beta-alanine over an eight-week period gained almost 1kg on average in lean muscle mass compared to the same number of participants who did not consume the amino acid and gained on average only 0.5kg.