Post-workout nutrition, abbreviated as PWO, is by far one of the most important meals of the day. Why? Well, your body will obviously be running low on energy after all the exertion it went through. Ideally, your muscles will be desperately trying to repair and replenish themselves.
Skipping a PWO is like running a race and then slowing down towards the end and let everyone pass you. Without a PWO, you have not completed your workout, and you will barely get the results you wish for. Without it, you are simply working for nothing.
Most individuals lack persistence and get caught up trying to see their workout results fast. This often leads to a lack in motivation or even disbelief that your program is not efficient, and you are only wasting time. Ideally, you might be ignoring the post-workout diet, and that is why you are not progressing. You body needs fuel to recover and become re-energized for the rest of the day’s activities and the PWO nutrients are the fuel the body needs.
Now that we have seen the importance of PWO, what should the Nutrition include?
Have you ever wondered why protein is made such a big deal in working out? Well, the answer is quite simple; when your body is put under stress, such as lifting weight, the muscle fibers will break down due to the resistance. Well, the body is known to repair itself from these tears naturally, and the amino acids found in proteins act as the building blocks of the repair process. If protein is not present in this anabolic window of recovery, the muscle fibers will heal, but you will have no gain in muscle.
There is an array of protein sources that are ideal for the recovery process, but Whey protein gives the best results in muscle repair and growth. When you are done working out, the repair process lasts for about 30-45 minutes and so it is important to get proteins into your system within this period. Do not wait too long as muscle recovery starts the minute you drop those weights.
Some people ask whether it is okay to eat a meal rich in protein instead of having a protein shake. Well, the answer is yes, but again, you have to keep in mind the recovery time, also known as the anabolic window. With a short time of 30 minutes, the food digestion process will not have been completed before muscle regeneration is done. However, a liquid protein intake will take much less time in digestion and the amino acids get into the system right on time and put you on the front line of recovery.
Just like in the pre-workout nutrition, carbohydrates are essential in the PWO as well. Most people tend to focus on protein intake and forget the carbohydrates altogether, given the emphasis of protein importance in the bodybuilding world. But what most of us fail to realize is that most of the body’s energy sources are usually depleted at the end of a workout session. At the end of the workout, the energy lost must be replaced and if it isn’t, the body is forced to go into starvation mode. This means that the hard earned muscle will start to be used as fuel. This process is known as catabolism.
The muscle repair process ideally requires energy and spiked insulin levels help push all the amino acids and essential nutrients into the muscle cells as fast as possible. Back in the early 2000’s, it was not uncommon to see a bodybuilder drink a full glass of chocolate milk after workouts due to its high levels of protein and sugars.
The best part is that our bodies, generally do not favor any specific type of carbohydrate in post-workout. There have been a lot of studies in this topic, but there is yet to be evidence that healthier carbs are favored over simple sugars in the recovery process. When muscles are worn out, the body will start the recovery process immediately and so, it will look for energy as fast as it can. In regards to this, creating an insulin spike in the bloodstream is the best way to kick-start muscle recovery.
That being said, you should not go eating high sugar snacks or candy bar with excess fat. We are talking about nutrition here, and moderation is always paramount.
Proteins and carbohydrates should be the first considerations when choosing a post workout nutrition. Keep in mind that liquid meals will get into the bloodstream faster than solid food, and so, choose wisely. Give your body the nutrition it requires and it will reward you significantly. Best of luck in your bodybuilding program.