During a workout you expend energy by using up the fuel in your muscle known as glycogen stores, as well as breaking down your muscle fibers. So, the goal for post workout nutrition is to repair those damaged muscle fibers and refill your glycogen stores as quick as possible. This leads to a decrease in muscle soreness, and increased muscle mass, which will result in overall better performance during your workouts. Here are a couple of tips I recommend for the most optimal results when it comes to post workout!
1. Protein Source
The most important compound for muscle repair and regeneration is protein, also known as an amino acid. The best type of amino acids to eat after a workout are called BCAA’s (Branch Chained Amino Acids); which include these three amino acids Leucine, Isolucine, and Valine. These amino acids can be found in Whey protein powders and foods such as eggs, lean meats like chicken, and fish. You can also find BCAA’s in nuts and beans. Depending on your schedule figure out what type of protein would be best for you to eat after a workout! If you use protein powder make sure the product includes BCAA’s (Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine) in the ingredients list or on the label. PEScience’s (my personal fav!) Select Protein product is a great option since it includes hydrolyzed whey protein, casein protein, and BCAA’s.
2. Include a simple carbohydrate
Eating your protein source with a simple carbohydrate that is nutrient dense gets the protein to the muscle cell quicker and the rebuilding process is able to start. This is because simple carbohydrate are easier to breakdown during the digestion process compared to complex carbs, so simple carbs enter into circulation quicker and also allows the protein to get to the muscle cell at a quicker and faster rate. There are a variety of simple carbohydrates like glucose, lactose, maltose, and sucralose. These can be found in fruits, milk, white bread,bagels, pasta, and some veggies.
3. Nutrient Timing
Although the muscle repair process can last up to about 72 hours post workout the most crucial hours to repair damages tissue is 0-1 hour after a workout, but obviously the quicker the better. So after you are done working out a small snack the includes BCAA’s and a simple carb are best. You also want to get in a fully balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, protein, and fat about an hour or two after your post workout snack. This will keep providing fuel to your muscles during the repair process, so it is important to disperse your protein intake throughout the day for the best recovery.
Try some of these tips for your next post workout meal and see if you notice a difference in your recovery time!