When your goal is to build muscle, you have to plan and model your diet carefully, so that you don’t end up getting fat or even worse – not eat enough and start losing muscle instead of gaining it. When building a muscle gaining eating program you have to know that meal timing plays a great part in what your final result will look like. One particular meal is very important and has the power to completely transform you if you eat right. It’s the post workout meal.
The post-workout nutrition is probably the most part of your whole muscle building diet. Let’s see what happens to the body after an intense weightlifting workout.
First: The body’s glycogen levels are depleted. Glycogen is the primary source of energy for the working muscles.
Second: Your muscles suffered micro-trauma or micro tearing and need protein to repair themselves.
Third: The protein balance is negative – the process of protein synthesis is slower than protein breakdown.
What you need to do to “correct” these three situations is to consume a post-workout meal that will replenish the glycogen in your muscles, supply enough protein so that muscle repair can take place and also decrease the protein breakdown that happens during intense training.
Numerous studies have shown that if adequate protein and carbohydrate quantities are not consumed during the first hour or two after the workout – the recovery process will be greatly decreased and muscle building stimulation will be stopped. Actually if you don’t consume protein and carbs during the first two hours after the workout, glycogen synthesis and protein synthesis will be reduced by about 50 percent.
Why this happens? Well, a few hours after an intense physical activity the insulin sensitivity tends to drop to about 40-50% of what it was immediately after the workout. This means that muscle building potential drops significantly in the absence of the right nutrients a few hours after the workout.
A perfect post workout meal would consist of high GI carbs, fast absorbing proteins like whey protein isolate and BCAA that will help to further increase the insulin sensitivity and aid the anabolic processes. Some studies suggest that the insulin are significantly higher when there are BCAA added to the protein/carb shake.
Now we have refiled the glycogen in the muscles, provided the protein for repair of the damaged muscles and stopped the protein breakdown process. But how can we increase the protein synthesis? A few things are known to increase protein synthesis:
– Increased levels of anabolic hormones – working with compound movements is known to help increase testosterone levels and growth hormone levels.
– High insulin levels – you will get these from the high GI carbs.
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– High essential amino acid levels in the blood.