You have been busting your ass in the gym and now you need to replenish those muscles, but with what and how much? This is the question I get asked quite often. The oversimplified answer: Consume the proper macronutrients and supplements to replenish the energy you used, repair the muscle tissue you broke down, and increase your muscle protein synthesis.
Replenishing The Energy Used During Your Training Session
When you perform intense exercise, your body uses glycogen to fuel your body with energy. When your body uses this glycogen, it depletes its stores, which are located primarily in your skeletal muscle tissue and the liver. Therefore, recovery nutrition must have three primary goals: refuel, rehydrate, and repair / build. Replenishing vital nutrients, rehydrating, repairing damaged muscle tissue.
Now that you know just how glycogen-depleted you can make your muscle tissue, let’s talk about the best way to replenish the glycogen used during your training session. In order to replenish your glycogen stores, you should consume fast-digesting, high-glycemic carbs immediately following your workout.
One very popular choice for a post-workout carb is waxy maize. Waxy maize is fast digesting and can help replenish the glycogen energy stores in your body after exercise.* Waxy maize mixes well and comes in many different flavors. Other great carbohydrate supplements are Vitargo, Dextrose, Maltodextrin, and Karbolyn.
Fast digesting carbs and dextrose are simple carbohydrates, your body doesn’t have to spend much time breaking them down before absorbing them, giving you the fastest possible replenishment of your muscle glycogen stores and a large insulin spike to go with it.
But Champ, why do you want an insulin spike after training? Good thing you asked, insulin is a highly anabolic hormone in the body, regulates your blood sugar by shuttling nutrients (like glucose) to muscles. So by spiking your insulin levels post workout, you will get those fast carbs and nutrients faster to replenish your muscles as that is when they need it most to jump-start your growth and recovery. Once all muscle cells are saturated, your body stores the remaining glucose as fat so this is why it is not advisable to keep scoffing down sugary carbs and extra fat and stick to your recommended caloric intake per meal.
Repair The Muscle Tissue You Broke Down
When you train intensely, you cause very small tears, or microtraumas, to your muscle tissue. These microtraumas are what cause the trained muscle to feel sore during the days following a workout. This is most commonly known as Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. This pain usually lasts for around 24 to 72 hours after the exercise. It’s when your body repairs these microtraumas that you experience increases in muscle size and strength. There are ways you can help mitigate this breakdown immediately following training to get a jump-start on recovery.
In addition to fluid and electrolyte losses, training increases circulating catabolic hormones to facilitate the breakdown of glycogen and fat for fuel. These hormone levels remain high after exercise and continue to break down muscle tissue. Without nutrient intake, this catabolic cascade continues for hours postexercise, contributing to muscle soreness and possibly compromising training adaptations and subsequent performance.
Whey Protein Post Workout
The most important supplement to take post-workout is a quality whey protein along with creatine, BCAAs, and Glutamine. Whey protein is superior to whole-food protein immediately post-workout, for these five reasons:
- Whey digests faster than other proteins.
- The amino-acid profile of whey is high in BCAAs.
- Whey contains little to no fat.
- Drinking a shake is quicker and easier than eating a post-workout meal.
- By consuming whey protein post-workout, rest assured you have given your muscles exactly what they need to repair the damage caused by your training session.
How much whey protein should you consume after a hard training session? ALL OF THEM! Jokes aside, if your goal is to maintain muscle, the range is 1.5-2 grams per pound per day and post workout you could consume around 20-30 grams of protein after your workout.
Creatine Monohydrate post workout
Taking creatine monohydrate has been shown to promote increases in total skeletal muscle mass, lean body mass, and muscle fiber size. Furthermore, there is evidence that muscular strength and power will also increase after supplementing with creatine. Bring on the lean gainz.
Creatine allows you to train at a higher frequency, which means quicker and more significant muscular gains. Since creatine helps increase the recovery rate of the muscle cells, you may not require as much total rest time in between workouts.4
So if you’re someone who commonly takes a few days off between each full-body workout, using creatine may allow you to cut this down to just a single day between workouts. Over time, this will translate to more workouts and will make a difference in your results from month to month.
Branch Chain Amino Acids Post Workout
Branched-chain amino acids can help promote protein synthesis, leading to muscle growth. In terms of protein synthesis, leucine is by far the most valuable of the three BCAAs for stimulating muscle growth. Much like the ignition starts the car engine, leucine turns on the process of protein synthesis. In scientific terms, leucine activates a complex process called mTOR, which ramps up protein synthesis, and therefore muscle tissue growth.
Branched-chain amino acids may also be anti-catabolic. This means they help to reduce muscle breakdown (catabolism) and speed up recovery after exercise. After resistance training, the processes of muscle synthesis and muscle breakdown both increase, but breakdown actually exceeds growth. This is where amino supplements come in. Post-exercise, muscle loss exceeds growth until protein or leucine is ingested.
Glutamine Post Workout
Another ingredient that can aid in recovery and help repair the damage caused by your training is glutamine. This amino acid will benefit you in two areas: immune function and carbohydrate uptake. When you train intensely, your body’s circulating levels (plasma levels) of glutamine decrease. This is because the demand from your liver, kidneys, intestinal pathway, and immune system exceeds the supply present in your muscles and available from your pre-workout meal.
By supplementing with glutamine, you can replace these stores and subsequently allow your immune system and other systems that rely on glutamine to function optimally. Supporting your immune system is a critical benefit of glutamine since a sickness that keeps you from training and eating can be detrimental to your progress.
The Intra and postworkout supplements I recommend are by SSN. Cytomaize for postworkout and Crea-mass for Intra-workout.
By consuming the proper amounts and types of carbs, protein, and supplements, you can replenish the energy used during training, repair the muscle tissue you broke down, and increase muscle protein synthesis. All of these things should lead to increased muscle growth, strength, and recovery.
By supplementing with the right supplements at the right times you will see significant gainz in your training and your physique. If you have any questions regarding this article, please do not hesitate to leave a comment or send me a message.