You work hard every trip you take to the gym. You would never want your hard-earned efforts to go to waste would you? Gaining muscle and losing fat is hard enough without the confusion of trying to ingest the right formula of post-training foods and supplements. The choices you make immediately after training can make or break your quest to reach the next level which can put you on the right track to progress or down a dead end road.
We all know we need protein to not only help us build muscle, but also increase metabolism which will in-turn help burn body fat. The types of protein are just as crucial as the amounts regarding benefits and effectiveness. Whey protein has the distinct advantage to being absorbed rapidly so it has the opportunity to flush your starving muscles with a healthy and abundant dose of amino acids (the building blocks of new muscle growth). 30-40 grams should do the trick.
Another type of protein to consider is casein protein. This is a slower digesting protein which is normally recommended in between meals and late-night intake. Recent studies have shown a small amount of casein combined with your post-training shake can be advantageous to your physique goals. It’s slower pace of digestion will ensure that once the whey protein has been used, casein will still be around to feed the muscle until you are able to get in a solid complex carbohydrate and protein-rich meal. Try 10 -15 grams.
Just as important as protein is carbohydrate intake post-training. Ingesting carbohydrate in the form of simple sugars raise insulin levels in the body which will help shuttle nutrients (namely protein) into muscle cells to start the recovery and growth processes. This is also the best time for your glycogen stores, which were severely depleted during training, to be replenished. The amount of carbohydrate will vary with bodyweight and goals such as muscle gain or fat loss, but this process is crucial not only for recovery from the previous workout, but also sets the stage for the next session. Depending on your goals anywhere from 20 to 80 grams of a sports recovery drink will suffice.
Now is the most crucial time to take in the popular supplement: creatine. Creatine will be shuttled into the muscle with protein and carbohydrate and aid in the rapid recovery process and will be stored in the cells for a better workout tomorrow. Creatine has been shown to not only help with strength and mass gains, but also with fat loss and recovery between and during workouts. 3 - 5 grams is all it takes for creatine to be effective.
30 - 40 grams
10 -15 grams
60 - 80 grams for mass
20 - 30 grams for fat loss
3 - 5 grams
Note: The post-training meal ideally should be taken within 30 minutes upon completion of your workout. Amounts are estimated for a 180-200lb male trainer.
By Brad Borland, MA, CSCS
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