Author: Michael Gear
You've just finished an intense workout. Your body is entering a catabolic state (meaning your muscles are breaking down). Your muscle glycogen is depleted and there are increased levels of a hormone called cortisol which is also contributing to the muscle deterioration. This is the critical time when your post workout nutrition comes into play. By using smart nutrition strategies you can promote an anabolic state which is constructive to your metabolism and overall workout success.
(Anabolic is defined as the synthesis in living organisms of more complex substances from simpler ones, whilst catabolic is the direct opposite of this).
The best strategy is to first of all incorporate quickly digestible carbohydrates which will replenish muscle glycogen. Combine this with proteins which will initiate the repair of your muscles. This is why bodybuilders know that to put on muscle, they need to train, eat and rest. As an additional benefit, this quickly digested meal promotes a spike in insulin from the pancreas. This helps transport the nutrients to the muscle cell.
The quantities consumed depend on your gender and body mass. As a rule of thumb, an ideal post workout meal will contain between 300-500 calories. A small female would be closer to the 300 calorie mark, whilst a 200lb male would be at the other end of the scale. The ratio of carbs to protein will vary between a 2:1 to 4:1 ratio of carbs:protein with very little to no fat. This is due to the fact that lipids will slow the absorption of the meal, which is the opposite of what you want.
If you are looking to keep your body as lean as possible, bear in mind that post-workout meals should have the opposite characteristics of your other regular meals throughout the day. Non post workout meals should be comprised of low glycemic index, slowly digested carbs, slow release proteins, and healthy fats. Contrast this to the staple post workout meal featuring high glycemic index carbs, quickly digested proteins, and a bare minimum of fats.
Realize when you are planning your post workout meals, that all the benefits can be derived from natural everyday foods. It is not essential to buy every latest supplement, although a good whey protein isolate powder is an ideal source of protein, as is fat free or low-fat yogurt. For carbohydrates, focus on foods such as bananas, pineapples, raisins, honey, or organic maple syrup. These are all great as they promote an insulin response within the body.
A great way to take in post workout meals is via smoothies. Try to combine frozen fruit with skim milk, protein powder, honey or maple syrup, and low fat yogurt. This is a great idea especially if you suffer from a sweet tooth. This is the one instance where you can get away with eating extra sugars. It all goes straight to the muscles and not to your belly.
If you develop these are powerful post workout nutrition strategies, you will go a long way towards developing a lean muscular body with a low body fat percentage.
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