No matter what form of training you are doing, whether it be cardiovascular sessions lasting for 2 hours, or heavy weight sessions made up of just 9 sets, the fact of the matter is you WILL be breaking down muscle tissue. Now in order to grow or improve performance this muscle tissue must be broken down through training so that it can grow back bigger and stronger. This is called “remodelling”. Many people understand this idea and thus train in the gym in order to get bigger, stronger muscles. However, many fail to realise that in order for these muscle fibres to rebuild themselves they need the fuel to do so. Many people neglect the most important time to give the muscle this fuel. That time is immediately post-workout, or the time commonly known as “the window of opportunity”. Immediately post workout your body is craving certain nutrients as glycogen stores will be depleted and your muscle protein will be in a negative imbalance.
So what do you need post-workout to utilise this window of opportunity? The 2 nutrients you need post workout are protein and carbohydrates. These are vital for repairing the damaged muscles and kick starting the growth.
Protein: It is recommended that roughly 0.4g protein per kg of bodyweight should be taken post exercise. But what type of protein is best? As you can imagine if you have a certain time frame to take it in then the faster acting the protein the better. That is why I recommend taking whey protein isolate post-training. Whey isolate is the fastest acting form of protein and is best to be taken post-training. It is very quickly broken down into its basic amino acids and can therefore restore positive balance in the muscles as fast as possible. Many people take amino acid supplements or BCAA’s post workout to aid in the same goal.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are extremely important post-workout for a number of reasons. They are needed to replenish muscle glycogen stores. They also cause an “insulin response”. This spike of insulin drags the sugars and amino acids from the blood stream into the muscle. This is vital to maximise the rate of the recovery process. So what type of carbs are best? In order to get that important insulin response we need fast acting carbs. A high GI carb like dextrose or maltodextrin is perfect. They raise blood sugar levels fast enough to force the body to release insulin. However I personally would recommend adding in some slower release carbs as well. Many people “crash” a short while after their training session due to low blood sugar levels after the insulin response. Having slow release carbs in your post workout shake keeps blood sugar levels constant for longer after your workout so you don’t crash later on.
There are other useful additions that can be added to your post-workout shake. Creatine is useful as post-workout is a great time to utilise nutrient uptake and get the most from your creatine. Studies also show evidence of creatine recruiting satellite cells to aid in recovery of muscle tissue.
The only nutrient to avoid post-workout is fat. Although fats can be useful in many situations, they should be avoided like the plague post-workout. Fats slow down the digestion rates of other nutrients so waste the vital window of opportunity that you are trying so hard to utilise.
So what supplement would I recommend to fulfil all of these requirements for a post-workout shake?
I personally use PhD nutrition Recovery 2:1
With a perfect ratio of fast acting carbs, slow acting carbs and fast acting whey protein isolate; as well as added amino acids and a good dose of creatine in each serving, it is the perfect post-workout shake to fulfil all requirements needed to utilise the window of opportunity to its maximum potential. It tastes great in all flavours and will not leave you feeling bloated as many carb containing shakes will. It is my supplement of choice and should be a staple part of your supplement stack if your goals is increased muscle size and strength.