Post-Workout Nutrition: Basic Concepts

While intra-workout nutrition is not really necessary, unless the workouts are exhaustive and long, or in the case of athletes and coaches who have to train more than once a day, post-workout nutrition  is an important time .

Both prolonged aerobic exercise and high intensity workouts cause significant changes in the state of balance of our body, creating micro-trauma in the muscle tissue. Lack of replacement of energy and fluids used during exercise can significantly impair performance in later activities.

Note:  In the article you will find a basic diet plan to build muscle  that you may find useful.

To cook

How important is each macronutrient in post-workout nutrition?

Protein

It has been known for a long time that consuming protein after training increases the level of amino acids in the blood , potentiates protein synthesis and reduces muscle catabolism, promoting the ability to recover, adapt and future performance . Regarding the dose, in order to maximize muscle synthesis and promote recovery, studies seem to show that 40g of protein provides a response slightly higher than 20g (about 20%) when training multiple muscle groups. It does not specifically concern the protein source ( whey supplements or protein-rich foods), since, curiously, both demonstrate similar responses – one should choose the type of protein that is most convenient for them.

In addition, it is important to note that before bedtime, 40g of a slower digestion protein (such as casein, Greek yogurt, fresh cheese, etc.) is again more beneficial than a smaller amount.

Note: Protein muscle synthesis is stimulated with smaller amounts of protein – it simply is not maximized. Doses equal to or greater than 50g of protein also appear to have fewer benefits.

Carbohydrates

The hydrates are the most used macronutrient as an energy source during workouts . Therefore, it makes sense to consume them close to our workouts: both in pre-workout (to avoid wear) and in post-workout nutrition. These have an anti-catabolic function, replenishing glycogen and promoting recovery. In addition, compared to lipids, hydrates are less likely to be stored in the form of fat.

Most hydrates should come from complex / whole foods , that is, with a low / medium glycemic index – bread, pasta and brown rice, sweet potatoes or oats. However, in the immediate post-workout, it is important to quickly replenish the energy expended and choose foods that are easy to digest, as well as high glycemic carbohydrates. We should consume about 20-30% of our daily carbohydrates in post-workout nutrition , especially if there will still be some kind of effort or other workout later.

It is important to remember that the hypoglycemic index of carbohydrates can change due to several aspects such as the level of ripening (the hypoglycemic index of fruit as bananas increase as they mature), the type and time of confection (for example, the longer the cooking time of the dough, the higher the hypoglycemic index), and the food and the amount of food ingested together (fats and acids, such as lemon juice or vinegar, lower the glycemic index). To find out the glycemic index of any food, you can consult the database of the University of Sydney (Australia), which is constantly being updated with new foods: 

Lipids

They are the macronutrient that is not so important at the time of post-training nutrition , since they slow down digestion and are eventually stored as fats. It makes more sense to consume them away from the post-workout period.

Before going to sleep, a good alternative to the slower digestion protein options presented earlier, is to add a type of fat (such as peanut butter) to a faster absorption protein.

As noted in the previous article, the specific needs and quantities of macronutrients vary from person to person. And while post-workout is a time that must have its importance, all our eating habits count!

It is important to note that the so-called anabolic window is longer than most people think, so it is not necessary to drink a protein shake as soon as we finish the last repetition of the exercise. Studies show that if there is good nutrition rich in carbohydrates and protein during the day and within a period of 1-3 hours before training, the next meal may be within 1-3 hours without compromising recovery and muscle protein synthesis.

What to eat after training?

In post-workout nutrition, we must bet on something that allows us to repair the damage to muscle tissue, restore the basal state of our body, hydrate, restore fluid balance, electrolytes and glycogen in order to improve performance and future performance .

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