Considering this fuel depletion and biochemically compromised state of the muscles following an intense exercise session, it is surprising to find what the average athlete or weight trainer typically consumes during the critical post training recovery period. For many it is simply water! Ever wonder why so many gym goers plod from work out to workout, week after week, month after month seemingly never showing any signs of physique or performance enhancement!
Nutrient Timing is crucial:
The 45-60 minutes immediately after training - commonly referred to as the "post workout window of opportunity" is a metabolic window of opportunity where your body, despite being in a catabolic state, is actually primed to rapidly shift into an anabolic state if provided with the right combination of nutrients. At no other time during the course of the day can nutritional intervention play such a huge role in your overall training progress. Scientific research clearly demonstrates that if you don't exploit this metabolic receptivity immediately post training you will negate much of the workouts muscle building or performance enhancing potential. The "metabolic window" is open for a short period of time after exercise, so timing is crucial as taking in more nutrients after this post workout window period will not produce the same results. As an example, scientific researchers from the University of Texas have shown that when subjects consumed a post workout supplement immediately after exercise, they stored twice as much glycogen versus when they consumed the same supplement only two hours after training. Similar results were demonstrated by researchers at Vanderbilt University in the USA, who found that nutrient uptake was three to four times faster when supplementation was given immediately after exercise versus three hours later.
Nutrient Composition is important:
Research further demonstrates that it is not only the timing of this post workout “meal” but also its composition which plays a major role in optimizing recovery and the anabolic adaptive response. It is clear that activation of protein synthesis, necessary for tissue repair and muscle growth, by amino acids is most responsive after exercise and amino acid uptake can be up to three times greater during this period. This highlights the importance of the macro nutrient profile of post workout recovery supplements.
This aforementioned is evidenced by scientific research, which has examined the effects of carbohydrate and/or protein (amino acid) supplementation on hormonal and muscular adaptations in resistance trained subjects. In a recent study subjects followed the same supervised resistance training program for 12 weeks. Following each workout they consumed either a carbohydrate sports beverage (eg. Staminade), an amino acid supplement, a combined carb/amino acid supplement (eg. Staminade Recover or Optimum Anabolic) or a placebo. The results clearly demonstrated that carbohydrates + amino acids (protein) enhances muscular and hormonal adaptations greater than either carbs or amino acids (protein) consumed independently. Specifically the carb + amino acid recovery drink (eg. Staminade Recover or Optimum Anabolic), demonstrated the greatest relative increase in muscle fiber cross-sectional area. Another interesting finding in the aforementioned study is that the resistance training program resulted in a decrease in body fat across all groups, showing that post exercise ingestion of a recovery drink does not hinder the fat burning process initiated by the exercise session.
The aforementioned results are in line with other recent studies which have showed that protein balance remains negative after resistance training when only carbs are ingested post workout. However consumption of both protein (amino acids) and carbs results in significantly increased muscle protein anabolism and a positive protein (nitrogen) balance.
Moral of the story – If you are serious about your muscle building or performance enhancing goals, not only is post workout nutrition vital but composition and immediacy of consumption of this meal is key. Muscle Science’s Staminade Recover and Optimum Anabolic are scientifically researched products which have been formulated to take the guesswork out of post workout nutrition. Used as directed, their micro and macro nutrient specific profiles, delivered in liquid form for maximum ease and speed of digestion and nutrient assimilation, will ensure that recovery is optimized and peak performance and muscle building potential is realized.
Ivy, J.L., Goforth, H.W., Jr., Damon, B.M., et al., “Early post exercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 93:1337-1344, 2002.
Ivy, J.L., “Dietary strategies to promote glycogen synthesis after exercise,” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26:S236-S245, 2001.
Miller, S.L., Tipton, KD., Chinkes, D.L., et al., “Independent and combined effects of amino acids and glucose after resistance exercise,” Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise, 35:449-455, 2003.
Roy, B.D., Fowles, J.R., Hill, R., et al., “Macronutrient intake & whole body protein metabolism following resistance exercise,” Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise, 32:1412-1418, 2000.