What is post workout nutrition and why is it important? To answer that question lets first take a look at what happens during intense exercise.
When exercising intensely we break down muscle tissue and we use fuel, which can vary based on the duration and intensity of a workout. Carbohydrates stored as glycogen are used and we breakdown proteins (muscle tissue). This can eventually make us stronger, leaner, and more muscular, but only if we supply our body with the appropriate nutrients to repair itself.
From a nutrition standpoint post workout may be the most important time of the day. Immediately following a workout your body needs to consume a fast digesting protein such as whey protein to begin repairing the muscle tissue that was broken down during the workout. Carbohydrates are necessary to replace glycogen stores. The amount of carbohydrates you need to replace what you have burned will depend on the intensity and length of the workout as well as the type of carbohydrate chosen and the amount of carbohydrates eaten during that day.
Your body has a greater ability to tolerate or utilize carbohydrates for approximately 3 hours post workout. It is recommend to take in fast digesting carbs immediately following an intense workout to restore muscle glycogen and to spare the protein being used to rebuild muscle tissue. The best choices for a fast digesting post workout carb supplement would be waxy maize, dextrose or cluster dextrin from a product like TriPharm Recarberry. If you want to use food then good sources of carbohydrates that restore muscle glycogen would be apricots, pineapple and kiwi, avoid bananas if possible. Bananas are higher in fructose and do not restore muscle glycogen as well fruits lower in fructose like the ones previously mentioned.
Depending on your fitness goals you can also consume a protein and carbohydrate food meal about 1 hour after you consume your post workout protein/carb drink.
Depending on your goals post workout can also be an ideal time to add creatine and glutamine. Supplementing with creatine post workout has been shown to increase strength and muscle size. Remember to take your creatine with a fast digesting carbohydrate to ensure delivery. A product like Diesel Fuel combines waxy maize (a high weight molecular carbohydrate) and creatine monohydrate. Glutamine has been shown to improve recovery reduce soreness and help the body to maintain a constant nitrogen balance.
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.