Post-Workout Nutrition In Bodybuilding

In the next 20 to 30 minutes after your workout, you should eat a meal rich in protein and carbohydrates. This is the only time when it is allowed to include carbohydrates with a relatively high glycemic index, i.e. fast carbohydrates.

During this period of time, the body has an open so-called post-workout, anabolic or protein-carbohydrate window. This is the reason why post-workout nutrition is essential mainly for muscle recovery and activation of muscle growth, as almost all nutrients are included in anabolic processes.

Post-workout carbohydrates

It is better to consume carbohydrates after a workout in a readily available form from simple, high-glycemic sources. You need to get your insulin levels up – this hormone has anabolic and anti-catabolic properties. Carbohydrates are needed to replenish the energy expended, and if the body does not get enough of them, the destruction of muscle tissues by catabolic processes begins.

The required amount of carbohydrates is approximately 60-100 g.

Carbohydrate products

  • Buckwheat (buckwheat groats);
  • Pearl cereal (pearl barley porridge);
  • Wheat groats (wheat porridge);
  • Oatmeal (oatmeal porridge);
  • White rice;
  • Pasta (durum wheat);
  • Bread (bran);
  • Honey (in small quantities);
  • Bananas;
  • Juice (preferably fresh).

A 2017 study shows that watermelon and pomegranate juices fortified with various nutrients significantly reduce muscle soreness after strenuous exercise. Researchers believe that antioxidants, tannins and a certain type of amino acid are responsible for helping muscles recover.

Koopman and coauthors found that after whole-body strength training, carbohydrate supplementation (0.15 or 0.6 g/kg body weight) had no effect on total body protein balance (including in muscles) for 6 hours after exercise, compared to protein intake alone. Staples then published a paper showing that after leg strength training, the increase in muscle protein synthesis upon consumption of 25 g of whey isolate remained exactly the same if athletes additionally consumed 50 g of maltodextrin.

Thus, in bodybuilding, only the total quantity and quality of carbohydrates consumed per day matters, with the timing of intake being of secondary importance

Post-workout protein

Immediately after the workout, it is advisable to drink a protein shake with fast protein enriched with BCAA (5-8 g) or a portion of a gainer (which is a source of both protein and carbohydrates). This way you can increase the rate of protein synthesis in your muscles by at least three times (compared to not eating after a workout). Protein also helps increase the secretion of the anabolic hormone insulin and has a pronounced restorative effect on muscle tissue.

The required amount of protein is about 20-30 grams.

Protein products

  • Protein dishes (recipes)
  • Poultry
  • lean meat
  • Eggs – boiled or scrambled
  • Fish
  • Cheese

Alternative View

The information that after a workout the protein/anabolic and other windows open and during this window all the protein supposedly goes to building muscles is nothing more than a myth useful only for protein producers.

The recovery processes begin with eliminating the oxygen debt and restoring, in the first place, the energy homeostasis (constant composition of the internal environment) of the muscle spindle, which was disturbed during strength training. During the first minutes and hours after training, the body seeks to restore macroergic phosphate and ATP levels in the cell, primarily through the activation of oxidative processes. Also, during the first 12 to 48 hours after training, glycogen resynthesis occurs in muscles and liver, which further increases the energy potential of the muscle cell and the body as a whole. And until the ATP level in muscle tissue is restored, the processes of protein synthesis (i.e. anabolism) do not begin. This means that the increased demand of the body for plastic material (protein) does not occur until 24-48 hours after an intensive workout, so only your supplement supplier is likely to benefit from including protein in the post-workout meal.

It is not recommended to eat fatty foods after exercise, as fats inhibit the absorption of proteins and carbohydrates.

Within two hours after the gym, it is advisable to exclude everything that contains caffeine and other stimulants: coffee, tea, cocoa and everything “chocolate”. The fact is that caffeine interferes with the work of insulin and thus prevents the loading of glycogen into the muscles and liver.

Evening workouts

As mentioned above, the time of carbohydrate intake is of secondary importance. Thus, if the training is performed immediately before going to bed, then 2 hours before the start you should eat a hearty meal. Immediately after finishing, it is advisable to take 5-8 g of BCAA, and just before going to bed, drink a portion of complex protein (about 30-40 g). Instead of complex you can mix 20 g of whey protein and 20 g of casein, or 30-40 g of one kind that is available.

Protein supplements can be substituted for 150-200 g of low-fat cottage cheese.

Nutrition after a workout for weight loss

If your goal is to lose fat mass, your eating tactics change – you should not eat for 2 to 3 hours after you finish exercising. This is due to the fact that energy comes with food, which eliminates the need to expend your own fats. After performing physical activity, there are large amounts of fat molecules in the blood that have been released from the fat cells, at the same time activated metabolic processes can still destroy these free fats for a long time. The nutrition that follows immediately after a workout will force your body to put all the free fat back into the tissues, and start using the energy of the food. Taking protein and BCAA amino acids is acceptable to maintain muscle mass.

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