Post Workout Recovery Nutrition – Body Fuel For Bigger and Better Muscles!

post workout recovery drink

Nutrition plays a crucial role in the muscle building process and one of the most vital time frames occurs right after a hard workout.

Yes, you want to nap, see a lady friend, go to a movie or get back to work, but before you do any of that stop doing everything else and start your refueling.

If you want to kick-start your growth into high gear, then post workout nutritional input is the key.

Post Workout Repair

Why is the time right after a workout so critical in eating to boost muscle gains?

Jean Storlie, MS, RD, Bell Institute of Health & Nutrition, explains that:

“bodies have a lot of work to do to repair tissues that took a beating during exercise and replenish energy stores that are depleted.

In addition, during periods of intense training and competition, when there is little time to recover between workouts, post-exercise nutrition becomes an even more important factor in enhancing performance and preventing injury.”

Properly reloading your muscle glycogen is vital for getting the most out of future workouts, and avoiding the impairment that comes from low muscle glycogen levels.

If your muscle glycogen is too low, your body won’t put out a maximum performance during upcoming workouts.

Muscle glycogen is an important energy substrate during resistance training activity, and conversely, reduced muscle glycogen impairs strength performance.

Low muscle glycogen appears to accentuate exercise induced muscle weakness.

The best way to insure your muscle glycogen is topped off is to refuel as quickly as possible after a hard core workout.

This is particularly true when it comes to the amino acid leucine.

University of Illinois nutrition professor Donald Layman notes that that taking the amino acid leucine right after a workout can shorten the downtime your body needs between workouts.

A study performed by Layman revealed that when leucine was ingested within 15 minutes of the completion of a workout, the leucine appeared to quick-start the protein rebuilding process – indicating that muscles can recover more quickly, and that the body can be better prepared for the next round of heavy exercise.

For those “geeky” muscle builders out there (like me) 🙂 ..I’ve linked to the full report that documents Prof Laymans research here. (trust me, it’s geeky)

However, here is my 1 sentence  summary and key take-away of that report:

– get your leucine within the first 15 minutes after your workout ceases.

Leucine needs to be ingested within 15 minutes of the workout, this sets the parameters for the initial rounds of refueling your tank

Liquid Refueling

The best type of nutrition for the post workout recovery is liquid.

Walter Norton Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, points out why drinking instead of eating is the superior approach to use for post workout recovery nutrition.

The next concept to understand is that within these 30 minutes (post workout), a liquid beats a solid.

Your body will not digest food in time to beat your 30-minute buzzer, but liquids can be rapidly digested into the bloodstream.

Your post-workout choice should always be in liquid form if you are taking recovery seriously.

You need to re-hydrate anyway, so think of it as a two-for-one deal.

Your muscles can prevent breakdown and start recovery while you re-hydrate and restore balance to your body.

The key issue here is speed – and liquids are fast, digesting into the body much quicker than solids.

So leucine and liquid add up to the best nutrition for fast body repair.

What food item meets this criteria? Milk. Milk is liquid and full of leucine.

For fast assimilation, use a low-fat version of milk (fat slows down digestion).

Kefir and yoghurt are the second best choices.

It turns out that milk also meets another post-workout repair element – the right protein to carbohydrate ratio.

One interesting study that featured chocolate milk noted milk’s optimal carbohydrate to protein ratio:

best drink for muscle recovery
Chocolate milk is considered one of the best drinks for post workout muscle recovery

“Our study indicates that chocolate milk is a strong alternative to other commercial sports drinks in helping athletes recover from strenuous, energy-depleting exercise”

Co-author Joel M. Stager, PhD, from Indiana University in Bloomington, further said in a news release.

He went on to add…

“Chocolate milk contains an optimal carbohydrate to protein ratio, which is critical for helping refuel tired muscles after strenuous exercise and can enable athletes to exercise at a high intensity during subsequent workouts.”

Milk has the perfect nutritional profile for the post-workout recovery.

If you want to refuel and refill the muscles, drink milk within the first 15 minutes after a workout and get the liquid, leucine-loaded, protein and carb rich substance working as quickly as possible.

Fighting the Flame

Another aspect of the post workout recovery is the issue of inflammation.

Working out can tear up more than the muscles, and while you want a fire burning in the body during the workout, you don’t want that flame extending beyond the workout.

The good news is that milk is also an anti-inflammatory that helps the body put out that fire.

There are also other good anti-inflammatory recovery food choices, including almonds, strawberries and other options, including cherries.

In fact cherries provide the body with great recovery substance.

A study from the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology points out the power of the cherry:

In the recent years many studies on anthocyanins have revealed their strong antioxidant activity and their possible use as chemotherapeutics. The finding that sour cherries (Prunus cerasus L) (also called tart cherries) contain high levels of anthocyanins that possess strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties has attracted much attention to this species.

Within the two hours following the workout it is a wise idea to down some tart cherries or cherry juice and give your body a boost in a full recovery.

Although your workout may come to an end when you leave the gym, the real work is just beginning.

The job of repair and recuperation is key to making significant gains from your training.

By having a few glasses of milk within 15 minutes of your routine you get the process rolling.

And you can effectively back up your full recovery with some anti-inflammatory foods such as strawberries, almonds, and cherries.

The use of smart eating at the right time can really make a difference for your muscles.

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