Are you struggling to lose weight or gain muscle, despite hours spent in the gym?
After an intense workout, your body enters a catabolic state. In this catabolic state, your muscle glycogen is depleted and increased cortisol levels begin to break down muscle tissue.
In order to counteract this and promote an anabolic state, you need to fuel your body with the proper nutrients. An after workout meal high in quickly digestible protein and carbohydrates provides the amino acids needed for muscle repair and spike your insulin level, which helps transport nutrients to your muscles.
1. Protein is essential.
Specifically, whey protein.
A high quality whey protein is a vital part of your post workout
After your initial dose of protein, eat 20g of protein every 3 hours or so to maximize muscle repair. Research has shown that exercise stimulates muscle building for up to 48 hours after exercise.
Why should you care about building muscle if your goal is weight loss?
The reason is simple, the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn each day. Increased muscle increases your resting metabolic rate.
Another tip, eat 20g of protein before going to bed. Without the protein, your body will enter a catabolic state overnight. In that catabolic state, your body basically cannibalizes your muscle, undoing the work you put in earlier in the day!
2. Essential Amino Acids
Make your get at least 10g of essential amino acids in your protein dose. You can check the label of the whey product you use to learn the amount of EAA’s that it contains. Of that 10g, at least 4g should be the specific EAA, Leucine. Leucine opens the pathway in the body where protein synthesis occurs. By helping this pathway, Leucine helps with better overall muscle development.
3. Carbs… maybe!
Do you wanting to lose weight or build muscle?
The answer to that question will determine whether or not you need carbs with your protein.
If you are trying to lose weight, then limit or eliminate carbs from your post workout meal. Many people will tell you that you need the carbs with the protein to spike insulin, which helps transport the nutrients to your muscles.
But whey protein has proven to elicit a high insulin response on its own, making carbohydrates an optional part of a post workout meal. Keep in mind, other types of protein, like casein and soy, do not elicit the same insulin response.
If your goal is to build muscle, then you may want to add some quickly digestible carbs to your post workout meal. You may find this funny, but here are a couple of quality carbohydrate options for your post workout meal.
Haribo Gummy Bears or Pixy Stix!
Both of these products are high in the carbohydrate dextrose, which is a quickly digesting carbohydrate that will increase insulin response. These will help restore the muscle glycogen that is depleted during exercise.
If you are an endurance athlete or you have just completed a large volume of intense training, then it is advisable to add some level of quickly digestible carbohydrates to your post workout
4. Avoid Caffeine.
Caffeine has been proven to raise your cortisol levels.
Why do you care about cortisol levels?
Cortisol is nicknamed the stress hormone because cortisol levels are elevated when you are in a stressed state. Cortisol inhibits your recovery and can actually stimulate fat storage in your body! You need to clear cortisol from your system as soon as possible. An effective way to do that is to take 2g to 10g of vitamin C post workout.
Without the proper post workout