The latest research on muscle recovery after a workout applies to just about everyone from endurance athletes to individuals looking to improve their physique. Within 30 to 60 minutes after exercise it is beneficial to consume carbohydrates to produce an insulin response and restore glycogen levels in the muscle. Insulin is your master recovery hormone. It boosts glycogen synthesis and stimulates its transport into the muscles. Glycogen (carbohydrates) is what your body uses for energy in a workout and is depleted during exercise. If you don’t replenish it right away, it may take days to restore proper levels thereby reducing your energy and performance levels in the meantime.
Insulin also plays a role in blocking the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol breaks down your muscles for fuel. Cortisol levels usually rise after workouts which suppresses the immune system and can blunt the benefits of exercise.
You can raise insulin levels after a workout by consuming a recovery drink with high glycemic carbohydrates.
Stimulating insulin also increases the transport of amino acids (protein) from a recovery drink into muscle cells better which is critical for muscle repair after weight training. This is also an excellent time to add glutamine to reduce muscle and immune system damage. Creatine can also be taken at this time since insulin is a transporter of creatine into muscle cells. Stay away from fat in this recovery drink since it will slow digestion and absorption.
So if you’re having trouble gaining the muscle you want or don’t have the endurance or stamina you think you should on a regular basis, examine the timing of your recovery drink and what it consists of. You just may find this is the key you’ve been missing.
Dominick Walsh is a blogger for Performance Nutrition and TMRzoo.com and covers all men’s health topics and exercise issues including protein powders, diets, weight loss, weight lifting supplements, fat burners and supplement reviews. Dominick’s columns cover everything you need to know about your pre, during and post workout nutrition.