Sunday, 27 January 2013

Post Workout Nutrition

So the debate goes on regarding post workout nutrition and although there are many different views here's what I have to say on the matter...

Basically after a hard gym session we are aiming to maximise Glycogen Synthesis. This is achieved by having the right amount of carbohydrates available and running high levels of insulin! The insulin transports the carbs to the muscles where it is converted to muscle glycogen, so basically...
More insulin post workout = more blood transporting carbs to the muscles = Faster/full recovery
Adequate carbs post workout = more muscle glycogen in the muscles = Faster/full recovery
Less Insulin post workout = less blood flow for transporting the carbs = Slower/little recovery
0-little carbs post workout = 0 to little muscle glycogen in the muscles = little to no recovery

And by the way, when I say "recovery" I mean the muscles repair properly and GROW!

So how exactly do we maximise Glycogen Synthesis?

CARBS- First and most important, is simple Carbohydrates. After a training session your blood sugar and glycogen levels will be very low... Protein WILL NOT replenish these! While training, your muscles use glucose (usable energy) and glycogen (stored energy). There comes a point in your session where your glucose and glycogen levels come so low you are unable to continue exercising, as you have basically ran out of fuel (think of a car).

As a result of running out of fuel cortisol is secreted, which has very strong catabolic effects! From a muscle building point of view this is a total nightmare as what happens now is the cortisol is eating your muscle tissue to convert it to glucose, this results in a LOSS in muscle tissue, which many of you have just been spending the last 2 hours trying to gain!

Instead of releasing cortisol simple carbs promote the release of insulin which is anti-catabolic. This insulin spike will promote extra blood flow containing the nutrients you consume pushing them to your fatigued muscles.

So the question you are now asking yourselves... How much and what type of carbs to take post workout?? Studies show liquids are better and faster absorbed post workout which means nutrients will be transported to the muscles faster. So some sort of shake with maltodextrin or waxy maize would be ideal with an amount of 0.8g per kilo of bodyweight (e.g. someone weighing 100kg would need 80g of carbs).

PROTEIN- Research has shown that including protein with your carbs post workout increases insulin levels more than carbs alone. BUT as many of you may not like to hear, too much protein post workout is counterproductive!! So before you take a double dose of protein after your workout read on... Any meal which is too high in protein may cause a release of glucagon.

Glucagon is a hormone which counteracts the release of insulin (which we already know is vital post workout). If that wasn't enough Glucagon also converts amino acids to glucose. So adequate protein post workout will help increase insulin levels however too much will convert your amino acids to carbs (energy)!

How much and what type of protein? Here we need a protein that is digested as quick as the carbs we have taken in to maximise the insulin response as we talked about earlier. We have already discussed liquids are our best option, and Whey isolate is the best protein at this point. Finally a serving of 0.4g per kilo of bodyweight is adequate (e.g. someone weighing 100kg would need 40g of protein).

Some extra nutrients to help muscle recovery:

Creatine- what a lot of people don't actually realise is that creatine is simply 3 different amino acids, glycine, arginine and methionine. We all have certain levels of creatine produced by our bodies which is also found in fish and red meat, so creatine is a natural substance. Now how creatine actually works is pretty deep, and I don't want to bore you with the bio-chemistry (ill maybe keep it for another post sometime) but basically creatine will replenish muscle ATP and trigger new cell growth.

BCAAs- leucine, isoleucine, and valine are the 3 amino acids present in Branched Side Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). As they help in muscle building and high-intensity endurance training its something that should be considered post workout. BCAAs that are present in the muscles slows down the breakdown of muscle cells and therefore prevents catabolism. As well as triggering protein synthesis, increasing energy expenditure and improving glucose tolerance, BCAAs seem to be a handy post workout tool. They are among the nine essential amino acids that the body is unable to make, meaning they must be consumed through food or supplements.

Glutamine- so we have talked about the importance of replenishing glycogen levels and Glutamine is another handy ingredient which helps us do this post workout. Studies have shown that 4g of glutamine is as affective as 30g of carbohydrates in restoring glycogen levels. The same studies have also shown glycogen levels being restored even more when both (glutamine and carbohydrates) were used together. Not only this but Glutamine also increases our natural Growth Hormone levels which helps produce new muscle cells and burn bodyfat, handy for those of us training clean...

Supplement Advice:
As we have already stated it has been proven that post workout nutrition is best digested in liquid form so some sort of supplement would be ideal! 
The 1 that stands alone above the rest is Biorythm's AfterGlow. Hard to get hold of and may appear pricey but if you were to consider buying all of the supplements separately you would be paying well over £100. AfterGlow saves you the hassle of having 5 post workout shakes with its combination of Carbs (the right 1s!), Proteins, amino acids and BCAAs, creatine, cortisol suppressants.... read for yourselves here!

SMPT now stock this product! 
£59 for 1920g 
£32 for 960g

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