The post-workout period is without a doubt the most critical time to take advantage of proper muscle-building nutrition.
We'll define the post workout period as the 3 hours that immediately follows an intense workout. It is during this time when the body is most primed for nutrient absorption and the muscles will literally act like a sponge, soaking up everything you present them with.
By feeding your body with the proper nutrients from both whole foods and supplements during this all-too important time frame you will greatly increase your muscle gains and improve your recovery time.
Let's take a quick look at what needs to be accomplished after an intense workout:
1) Muscle breakdown must be minimized and the body must be put back into an anabolic, muscle-building state.
2) Blood sugar and glycogen levels must be restored.
3) Free radicals must be neutralized.
4) The muscles must be fed with proper nutrients to facilitate recovery and growth.
This can be accomplished by consuming 2 special "post-workout meals".
The first meal should be consumed entirely in liquid form. Your body is in a high state of stress, literally starving for nutrients, and you need to replenish this imbalance in the fastest way possible. A liquid meal will be digested quicker than any other and will allow your body to start rebuilding itself immediately.
This post-workout shake should ideally contain the following:
1) 30-40 grams of whey protein.
2) 70-80 grams of simple sugar. (Dextrose is a great sugar to use)
3) 5 grams of creatine.
4) 5-10 grams of glutamine. (Optional)
All of these ingredients should be mixed in water and consumed within half an hour of completing your workout. I would also suggest taking a high-potency multivitamin along with the shake. This simple liquid meal will go a long way in accelerating the muscle growth process and helping you to recover.
About 45 minutes to an hour after your post-workout shake, you should consume your second post-workout meal, which should come from whole foods. This meal should be rich in protein and high glycemic carbohydrates.
High glycemic carbohydrates are those that are broken down rapidly into the bloodstream. Some examples include, potatoes, white rice or rice cakes. Here are a couple of examples of what your second post-workout meal might look like:
1) 6oz steak, 1 potato, 1 glass of orange juice
2) 1 can of tuna, 100g rice cakes, 1 glass of grapefruit juice
This meal will continue to provide your starving muscles with the nutrients they require in order to synthesize new muscle tissue and restore glycogen levels.
After this second meal there is still about 2 hours or so to take advantage of as best you can. Your goal in this 3-hour window is to consume as much high quality protein and high glycemic carbohydrates as you can.
Most lifters highly underestimate the value of the post-workout period and hinder their gains as a result. One of the biggest mistakes you could possibly make would be to ignore the value of this 3-hour period and to slack off on your protein and carb intake.
Treat the post-workout period with respect and prepare for a noticeable boost in your muscle size and strength gains.
There are also 3 other highly important times throughout the day to pay special attention to the foods and supplements that you consume. to find out what they are, and how to properly approach these periods for the best possible results.