Power Up Your Post Workout Nutrition
By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES
You go to the gym.
You do a CRAZY, STRENUOUS workout and then you leave.
You get in your car and start to drive, not really understanding what is happening in your body.
By the time you get home, your window of opportunity is closing to recover from the workout.
And it’s closing FAST.
Sometimes you may feel like eating after your workout and sometimes you do not.
Tonight is a night you do not feel like eating.
So you go about your night; then two hours later you eat something, and then go to bed.
Why can this be detrimental to your weight loss goals?
Let me explain…
Exercising makes you a healthier and stronger person.
Strength training breaks down your muscle tissue and depletes glycogen stores.
Glycogen is many molecules of sugar bound together and stored to be used for energy.
Exercises and strength training utilizes most of your stored glycogen.
This depletes glycogen in your muscles and liver.
Post Workout, Catabolism, and the Anabolic Window
Immediately after your workout, your body is primed for growth and repair of the muscles you just taxed.
Your body has a small window of opportunity that YOU need to take advantage of.
This window is sometimes referred to as the “anabolic window” because of the perfect storm of things happening in your body.
The anabolic window increases sensitivity to insulin
and increases the cells' permeability to glucose
During this window, your body is sensitive to two different elements: insulin and glycogen synthase.
One is a hormone which helps your body remove sugar from your blood, sending it into the muscles.
The other is an enzyme which increases glucose uptake and resynthesis of glycogen in the muscles and the liver.
Insulin and depletion of glycogen stimulate glycogen synthase.
High- Versus Low-Glycemic Foods
There are two types of carbohydrates to use after a workout, but only ONE is optimal.
They are low- and high-glycemic foods.
Low-glycemic foods give you a SLOW release of sugar into your bloodstream.
This slow release increases glycogen stores, but not fast enough.
Low-glycemic foods supply your body with glucose
over longer periods of time
This may not be the best source, since you want RAPID resynthesis in order to replenish your cells with glycogen.
High-glycemic foods raise blood sugar rapidly
This rapid increase in blood sugar may be a more efficient way to replenish your body of the glucose it so desperately needs.
High-glycemic foods may also rehydrate you more efficiently.
But you can’t forget about the amino acids.
Amino acids are vital to the health and growth of your muscles, especially after a workout.
A workout breaks down muscle tissue, resulting in a catabolic effect in your body.
Catabolism is a destructive form of metabolism
where your muscles are broken down for energy
You want to avoid catabolism AT ALL COSTS.
Amino acids are vital to the success and resynthesis of your muscle tissue.
The anabolic window makes your muscles more sensitive to insulin.
Insulin does two things:
First, it may help glucose uptake, and therefore increase glycogen stores in your muscles.
Secondly, insulin also increases the uptake of amino acids into your muscles, resulting in increased muscle repair and growth.
Post Workout Nutrition
The optimal time for repair and resynthesis of glycogen stores is IMMEDIATELY after your workout.
Certain conditions need to be present to ensure you are having optimal glucose and amino-acid uptake.
• The amount of glycogen depleted
• The presence of insulin
• Presence of the enzyme, glycogen synthase
• The degree of muscle damage
The “anabolic window” is a period of time after your workout where your body is able to gather nutrients, and repair and build lost nutrients.
A drink or meal containing high-glycemic foods and protein, allows your body the proper balance of amino acids and glucose for tissue repair and growth.
High-glycemic foods allow a RAPID rise in blood sugar which your muscles quickly upload, due to increases sensitivity to insulin and permeability to glucose.
A post workout meal, with the right amount of protein and carbohydrates, may allow your body a perfect replacement for those lost nutrients after your WORKOUT!
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