I’ve covered Nutrient Timing and how it is as important, if not more important, ‘when’ you eat as opposed to ‘what’ you eat. We discussed nutrient ratios as to which percentages of fat-carbohydrates and proteins are best and why. In terms of pure weight loss I covered how simply creating a caloric deficit will always produces results (even if it comes at the price of muscle mass). However there is one part of your exercise and diet program that simply cannot be missed: Post-Workout Nutrition.
Post-Workout there is a window of opportunity that extends roughly 45 minutes following exercise where your body is absolutely primed for re-fueling – miss this and you can basically assume that your efforts in the gym that day have been for not. At that moment after intense exercise your body is absolutely starved for nutrients – healthy nutrients that will help you recover and grow. But, if you miss this chance the exact opposite will happen – you may actually lose muscle!
The ideal post-workout meal will be consumed almost immediately after your training session, and that is why fast digesting whey protein comes in as a great practical solution. Your first meal should be high in carbohydrates and protein, with a ratio as high as 4:1 in favor of those typically pesky carbs. Carbs are usually frowned upon but post-workout they are the kings of recovery.
The typical problem with carbs is when they are consumed with fats and or at a time when your glycogen stores (energy stored in the muscles) are full. As a result eating carbs at those times translates to an insulin spike because they are converted to ‘sugar’ and thus cause blood sugar to spike. Insulin is released as a ‘storage’ hormone designed to shuttle sugar out of the blood which is then converted to fat and stored.
In the case when glycogen levels are low – as in post-workout – your body will first feed those hungry muscles. So if you create an intentional insulin spike by consuming carbs and combine that with a low fat-high protein combination, your body will be force feeding muscle building protein and amino acids plus glycogen to where you need it most – muscles. Using carbs and their insulin effect to your benefit will have muscle building nutrients delivered to the muscles right away for recovery and subsequent growth.
In the absence of carbs the valuable fast-digesting protein ma y not reach its destination in time.
Also, post workout your body remains in a catabolic (breaking down muscle) state. So without protein immediately after you have caused trauma to the muscles, your body will instead use the valuable amino acids taken from protein and muscle and break these amino acids down to convert them to be used as energy. That’s right, your body will breakdown muscle for its amino acid content in order to use it as energy! Simply put, amino acids are too valuable to your training program and repair to be wasted as an energy source.
So by providing your muscles with a high carbohydrate and fast digesting high protein source with minimal fat, your muscles will be refueled immediately (thanks to the carb-induced insulin spike) with muscle building nutrients as you recover. The glycogen that is stored thanks to the carbohydrate intake is ready at the muscle level to be used immediately for your next workout.