After a good session in the gym, nothing hits the spot like a post-workout feed to kickstart recovery and fuel lean muscle gains. Your ideal nutrition would include fast-absorbing proteins and fast-acting carbohydrates, but those are not the only important factors in getting the most from your shake and your workout. Here are a few key errors you could be making that are serious roadblocks to your goals.
TOO MUCH SUGAR, TOO MUCH FAT
Even though your body needs to replace its energy stores after a workout, it doesn't mean you can jump on unhealthy sugars to help your muscles recover. Simple sugars will not cut it as you ideally want quality complex carbs to fuel your post-workout recovery. If you're confused as to what carbs are ideal post-workout, here's a handy article that analyses what the best fast carbs are.
And while healthy fats are a huge part of a balanced diet, they slow down the transit of carbohydrates and protein through the stomach. If you’re performing a long duration high intensity workout, you essentially want the carbohydrates and protein to be absorbed and utilized as quickly as possible, so save the fats for other opportunities throughout the day.
WAITING TOO LONG TO FUEL UP
It is absolutely crucial that you consume your post-workout meal immediately after exercise. When your muscles are depleted and require an abundance of protein and carbohydrate, the muscles are biochemically "primed" for nutrient uptake. This phenomenon is commonly known as the "window of opportunity".
Over the course of the recovery period, this window gradually closes and by failing to eat immediately after exercise, you diminish your chances of promoting full recovery. To illustrate how quickly this window closes, research has shown that consuming a post-exercise meal immediately after working out is superior to consuming one only 1 hour later. In addition, consuming one 1 hour later is superior to consuming one 3 hours later. If you wait too long, glycogen replenishment and protein repair will be compromised.
WHOLE FOODS ARE TOO SLOW
Eating whole foods should be the foundation upon which your diet is built on, but when it comes to post-workout nutrition, supplements are proven to be more efficient and more effective. The latest research has demonstrated that liquid supplemental formulas containing fast digesting protein (whey hydrolysates and isolates) and carbohydrates (dextrose and maltodextrin) are absorbed more quickly than whole food meals.
To put this into perspective, a liquid post-exercise formula may be fully absorbed within 30 to 60 minutes, providing much needed muscle nourishment at this crucial time. However, a slower digesting solid food meal may take 2 to 3 hours to fully reach the muscle.
In conclusion, when you decided to start exercising you decided to give up a specific amount of time per week in the interest of getting better, physically. However, if you haven't spent the necessary time thinking about post-exercise nutrition, you're missing much of the benefit that comes with exercising. Rest assured that once you start paying attention to this variable in the recovery equation, your time in the gym will be much better invested.
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