The health and fitness world can be a confusing place. Most of us just want to get in shape, feel good, and look amazing. But did you know that what you eat after a workout is a big player in reaching your goals and staying healthy?
With all the information and health trends out there, it's hard to know what to do. To help, I'm going to give you the ins and outs out post-workout nutrition.
Why does post-workout nutrition matter?
What's going on in our bodies that's different than any other time of the day? And why should we care?
There's a lot going on in our bodies after a tough training session but the main things we want to look at are; protein breakdown and depleted glycogen stores.
Protein: The building blocks
After resistance training and/or some fairly high-intensity cardio, we create some damage to our cells on a micro level. This is good! This is what signals the need for protein synthesis (muscle building) and creates the improvements that we look for.
Just like how sun tanning turns the skin darker, the micro cell damage will stimulate overcompensation and lead to stronger, bigger/more toned muscles.
But, protein synthesis can't take place without some protein actually being available - and we want sysnthesis to take place in the first hour after working out (during the anabolic window).
If protein isn't taken from an outside source (food), then it will be used from an inside source (muscle).
This is why post-workout nutrition is important. Without finding easy-to-digest protein sources right after a workout, we can be left broken down. (More on that when we chat what to actually eat!)
Carbohydrates: The workforce
Second, we deplete glycogen stores during a workout. Glycogen is stored glucose that sits in the liver and muscles waiting to be used for energy. Carbohydrates are broken down fairly easily by the body and turned into glucose to be used right away or stored for later (glycogen).
When our glucose/glycogen stores drop too low, we run out of steam and our system slows down. This means that our body will look for that inside source for energy, meaning it is important to find an outside source to kickstart recovery!
You'll want to get this in your stomach about 20 minutes after your last rep, or during your cooldown.
Keep an eye out for Post-Workout Nutrition Part 2, where we discuss what to actually eat!