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5 Post Workout Recovery Tips

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  • January 10, 2014
muscle building mistakes
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Is your post workout recovery on point? Have you been busting your butt every day in the gym to build lean muscle and burn off fat, but are experiencing little results.  Maybe its time to take a look at your post-workout recovery? During an all out, leave nothing behind workout, muscle breakdown occurs, which is exactly what we want to happen to trigger adaptation including protein synthesis also known as muscle building, as well as fat utilization or fat burning!

But if you don’t abide by the rules of post workout recovery nutrition you can forget about reaping any benefits of the hard work you have been putting into your workouts.  As you push out every rep and set, the muscles use up all the glycogen – energy and essential amino acids that are available to drive muscle function and energy production.

The result, protein turnover – or muscle breakdown increases, and when all that fuel in your muscles is gone the muscle turns to itself for fuel.  Muscle catabolism takes over – unless you halt this breakdown pronto with the right nutrients at the right time!  Here are 5 post workout recovery tips to make sure you stay on top of your muscle building goals.

1. Critical Timing  

After a hard workout, when you feel like you need to pick-yourself up off the floor, you can be certain there is nothing left in the tank!  Your muscles will be completely on glycogen empty!  And will be in no shape to kick-start the recovery process. But if you feed them they will respond!  Post workout muscles are highly receptive to take up nutrients, refill glycogen stores, and restore protein balance to once again engage muscle protein synthesis.  This is the critical time called ‘the anabolic window’ and for every minute you waste not refueling, this window begins to close off your chances for a full out recovery.  Fuel your muscles within 30-minutes to 1 hour post workout!

2. Liquid Absorption

So you now know when it needs to happen, and since you have very little time to make sure your starving muscles get what they need, you obviously can’t waste your time on eating something that is going to take hours to digest – that just doesn’t make sense.  For ultra-fast delivery, post workout fuelling needs to be in the liquid format!  Liquids are absorbed rapidly, all it takes is about 30 minutes to be absorbed and digested.  Of course your best option here is a whey protein isolate.  Whey isolates are the highest in terms of quality, bioavailability and are absorbed extremely fast.

post workout

3. Initiate the Launch Sequence

If you want to guarantee that you are initiating muscle building, go straight to the key regulator that drives muscle growth and recovery.  Branched Chain Amino Acids are the critical driving factors for protein synthesis.  Not only do they trigger muscle building but they also stimulate insulin release.  Insulin is an anabolic hormone involved in delivering the key nutrients the muscle needs for growth! Not only will BCAAs halt muscle breakdown and stimulate the recovery process they also decrease muscle soreness so you can keep training at a maximum intensity with every workout.  Be sure to look for BCAAs that are at the right ratio.  Research has shown that BCAAs in a ratio of 2:1:1 or Leucine to Valine and Isoleucine is most efficient for kick-starting protein synthesis post workout.  This is because Leucine is a key regulator in the protein synthesis pathways.

4. Load Up On Carbs    

No matter if you are trying to lean down or are trying to add lean muscle, you need to load up on carbohydrates post-workout.   Without carbohydrates, you cannot re-fuel the utmost important nutrient in those muscles – glycogen.  Glycogen is your source of energy during your workouts.  Filling up on simple carbohydrates helps stimulate insulin release and drive the anabolic processes involved in protein synthesis and repair.  Released insulin also aid in the delivery of protein and aminos into the muscle where they can be used.  Stick to simple sugars in a carbohydrate powder format that can be easily mixed with your whey protein.  Consume a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein for best results.

5. Forget About the Fat

Yes fats are important, and an essential part of any serious fitness girls nutrition plan.  They assist in keeping joints fluid and your hormone levels regulated.  But there is simply no room for fats during your post workout recovery.  Fats will only slow down the rate of absorption of the other muscle building nutrients you need, and that is just not acceptable. Everything about your post workout recovery nutrition needs to be fast!

Be Fierce and Rule the World,

LJ


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5 Comments

  • Drew says:

    Great post!

  • Amber says:

    Hi Lauren,

    I stumbled upon your site, and have greatly enjoyed all of your articles! I found this article extremely informative, but it also left me with a question or two.
    1-Can you eat fat pre-workout? I love to put pb on the rice cakes I eat before my workout as my pre-workout protein source,, but I was wondering if this is a bad idea? Is it better to just do a scoop of whey before AND after?
    2- is putting a banana into a protein shake with whey consider enough of a simple carb? Would that fulfill the 2:1 carb ratio? Is there anything you can add to a shake that we would have at home to meet achieve this, instead of looking for carbs in powder form?

    That was way more than 2 questions, I apologize. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Amber!
      Thanks for your questions! Fat pre-workout is ok, it provides a long-lasting source of energy. I would not rely on peanut butter though as your pre-workout protein source. Nut butters do have protein but they don’t provide all the essential aminos you need for muscle building. It would be better to do maybe 1 rice cake with peanut butter and have a whey shake in addition. After, it is actually better to do a fast absorbing BCAA powder which gives you the right aminos that you need to stimulate protein synthesis quickly. You can also use a whey hydrolysate or isolate that is high in BCAAs and also fast absorbing. Fruit does provide simple sugars, but it provides fructose, which doesn’t get used to make muscle glycogen, it is preferentially stored in the liver. Rice cakes are actually a great choice, without the peanut butter. Rice cakes with a bit of jelly – that is mostly made with sugar is a good option, or you can use potatos or white rice. Hope that helps!

  • Sara says:

    How Can I introduce fruits in diet plan?

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Sara, I replied to your email. Not sure if you got it. Basically, keep fruit to about once per day if you’re trying to lose weight. Fruit is high in sugar, so pick fruits that are high in fiber like berries, or apples. Eat them for breakfast or preferably post workout. Let me know if you have any questions!

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