There’s one phrase that many of us heard when we were kids, wanting to load up our plates with nothing but chicken nuggets and whipped cream: you are what you eat.
This saying is used so often that it’s all but lost its meaning. However, it still rings true today. If we fuel our bodies with healthy food, then we are promoting a healthier and happier body to live in. When we consume unhealthy foods in excess, however, we leave ourselves at risk of illness and disease.
A healthy and happy body starts from the inside out. If you’re on a journey of learning how to nourish your body and exercise regularly, you may want to learn more about post-workout nutrition. Luckily, you’re in the right place!
A Quick Look About Post-Workout Nutrition
Post-workout nutrition is an interesting topic that every health-conscious individual must know. It is composed of three main concepts:
- Your body needs various nutrients at different times, based on your activities.
- What you eat before, during, and after a workout is essential.
- Having post-workout nutrition can help improve your body’s performance, composition, and full recovery.
Various studies have been done on post-workout nutrition, ranging from the effects of carbohydrates found in post-workout drinks to the exact combinations of amino acids essential to recovery. Research continues to show effective post-workout nutrition techniques for recreational exercises and athletes.
There are three main purposes of post-workout nutrition: to decrease protein breakdown, replenish glycogen, and increase protein synthesis.
Other proposed advantages of a quality post-workout nutrition include:
- Decreased muscle soreness
- Improved muscle building
- Enhanced immune function
- Better utilization of body fat
- Improved bone mass
Generally, athletes and health-conscious individuals aim to increase muscle size, repair damage incurred during workouts, and replenish the energy stored in their bodies. They want to enhance their performance, keep their bodies free from injuries, and improve their appearance.
Why is Post-Workout Nutrition Essential?
Exercise strengthens our bodies, but it does so by causing damage to tissues and muscles and forcing them to adapt. Repairing and rebuilding occurs when old and damaged proteins are broken down, and protein synthesis (construction of new proteins) takes place. The relationship between the rate of the muscle protein synthesis and the breakdown of the protein muscle represents the metabolic rate for muscle growth.
During exercise, stores of energy are significantly depleted, and carbohydrates are used first. This is why carbohydrates and protein are recommended during the post-workout period. Research indicates that while protein synthesis lasts for at least 48 hours after a workout, it is a good idea to replenish with post-workout nutrition within two hours after your workout.
What Should I Eat After a Workout?
As previously mentioned, proteins and carbohydrates are required for post-workout nutrition. They help replace the muscle glycogen and promote protein synthesis to stimulate transporting of nutrients to the cells.
You can consume whole food meals, but they are not always practical. Some individuals do not feel hungry immediately after a workout. Whole foods are slower to digest; thus, nutrients won’t be quickly available for the body.
On the other hand, nutrition in the form of liquid containing carbohydrates (glucose, maltodextrin, and dextrose) and proteins are seen to be:
- Better tolerated during and after exercises
- A way to accelerate muscle recovery by using insulin in transporting nutrients to the body cells
- Having fast digestion and absorption.
Knowing both the what and when is crucial when informing yourself about post-workout nutrition. If you’re looking to ensure efficient muscle repair and recovery, plan ahead and make sure you have healthy options available to you so that you don’t fail to replenish your energy or end up grabbing something that offers you nothing more than empty calories.
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