Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Maximizing Results with Post-Workout Nutrition

Maximizing Results
with Post-Workout Nutrition

Exercise is one of the best ways to improve health, achieve and maintain a healthy weight and make positive, long-lasting changes to overall quality of life. However, if left unchecked, exercise could very well be the thing keeping you from achieving your ultimate goals.

During intense exercise, several reactions occur that produce the complete opposite results sought from exercise. Muscle damage occurs, energy levels decrease, immune system function deteriorates, cell membranes are damaged and inflammation increases.

Left unchecked, these processes will continue until the next bout of exercise begins, wasting more muscle, further decreasing immune system function, damaging DNA and leaving one susceptible to illness, injury and long-term damage.

While it sounds like intense exercise would be the very thing to avoid, it’s actually the fastest, most effective way to change your body. The way to make the results matter is with nutritional intervention immediately following exercise. In fact, there’s no other time during the day when nutrition is most crucial than the 30 minutes immediately following exercise.

The topic of post-workout nutrition has been well studied in clinical settings, as scientists search for optimal methods to increase muscle tone, decrease fat and prevent damage to immune system function and cell membranes in athletes and active individuals.

Studies have shown that whey protein and fast-digesting carbohydrates in liquid form is the essential equation in maximizing results following exercise.

Generally speaking, fast-digesting carbohydrates should be avoided throughout the day because they cause a spike in insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas to balance blood sugar levels. A spike in insulin, caused by ingesting fast-digesting carbohydrates, causes the body’s fat cells to store sugar in the form of glycogen, resulting in fat gain.

Following exercise, however, it is the muscle cells that become sensitive to insulin. Ingesting fast-digesting carbohydrates during this time, which is a small window lasting up to 45 minutes following exercise, causes the muscle cells to grow, which increases metabolism and promotes a healthy body composition.

It’s this response that halts the deteriorating effects of hormones produced during exercise and shifts the body into a proper recovery mode— and the faster the better.

It was originally thought that these carbohydrates were the secret to recovery, until research emerged at the University of Texas at Austin that showed adding protein to a carbohydrate supplement caused a faster increase in insulin, increasing protein synthesis and making the combination up to four times more effective than carbohydrates alone in recovery and results.1
Post-workout nutrition benefits don’t stop at fat burning and muscle gain. The health benefits far outweigh any physical gains aided by supplementation. A study of Marine Corp. recruits found individuals receiving protein and carbohydrates over a 54-day period, versus a placebo or carbohydrates alone, had 33 percent fewer total medical visits and 37 percent fewer visits due to muscle joint problems.2

But even if you have the right combination, waiting too long to drink the shake can make it ineffective. A study performed at Vanderbilt University documented the importance of the timing of a post-workout meal and found that timing is everything.

Participants were given a protein and carbohydrate supplement either immediately after 60 minutes of exercise or three hours later, with the former group burning more fat and synthesizing more protein, better equipping them to build muscle. The group receiving the supplement three hours later actually had a net loss of protein, meaning they lost muscle as a result of waiting to ingest nutrients.3

The “perfect” recovery shake involves the following elements:
  • 1 g carbohydrate per kilogram body-weight. (1-1.5 g/kg for endurance athletes)
  • 1 g protein for every 3 or 4 g carbohydrates.
-   Whey protein is optimal because it includes all 9 essential amino acids and is fast digesting. Whey isolate is recommended for lactose-intolerant individuals. 
  • Vitamins C & E can be added during this time to enhance immune system function, as well as glutamine and leucine (amino acids) to boost protein synthesis and recovery.
  • Fat should be avoided during this time because it slows digestion.
  • Liquid forms are preferred because of their fast-digesting nature. Whole foods can be eaten, but the window of opportunity may be missed due to digestion delay. Animal meats and processed carbohydrates (such as rice cakes, breads, pastas or crackers) can be consumed if whole foods are desired.
  • Bring your shake (or food) to your workout and consume it prior to leaving the facility.

Information in this article was adapted from the following studies & sources:
1. Zawadzki, K.M., Yaspelkis, B.B., III and Ivy, J.L., “Carbohydrate-protein complex increases the rate of muscle glycogen storage after exercise,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 72: 1854-1859, 1992.
2. Flakoll, P.J.,. Judy, T., Flinn, K., Carr, C., Flinn, S., “Post exercise protein supplementation improves health and muscle soreness during basic military training in marine recruits.” Journal of Applied Physiology, March 1, 2004 vol. 96 no. 3 951-956.
3. Levenhagen, D.K., Greshmah, J.D., Carlson, M.G., et al., “Postexercise nutrient intake timing in humans is critical to recovery of leg glucose and protein homeostasis,” American Journal of Physiology, 280: E982-E993, 2001


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