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5 Post-Workout Nutrition Tips For Building Muscle And Losing Fat

Anju Mobin

Posted on November 30 2018

You may be working out to gain muscle, lose weight or probably both. You have chalked out a great workout plan and a balanced diet plan to go along with it. You know that choosing the right foods is extremely important for muscle building. But what you may not be aware of is that - when you eat them - is just as crucial as what you eat.

Intense workout sessions are physically and mentally exhausting and can leave you quite dehydrated. The aim of post-workout nutrition is re-hydrating, refuelling, and repairing muscle tissues. It is important to replenish vital nutrients and to restore electrolyte balance in the body, as quickly as possible. The right nutrition soothes excessive inflammation and helps rebuild the damaged muscle tissues, making them stronger than ever.


1. The “Window of Opportunity”

You must have seen bodybuilders at the gym, rushing to their lockers to gulp down their protein shakes immediately after their workout. For long it was believed that 'the window of opportunity' was rather short. But recent research has thankfully proven that this ‘window’ is longer than previously anticipated.
The window of opportunity is the time period following your workout wherein your muscles are primed to take in and best utilize nutrients to stimulate muscle repair, growth and strength. Though there are studies that indicate the protein synthesis lasts for about 48 hours after an intense workout session, it’s better to have your post-workout meal at the earliest, preferably within a two-hour window.


2. Replenishing Muscle Glycogen

Carbohydrates are the primary fuel our body uses. This gets broken down into glucose molecules which get used up for instant energy by our body. Excess carbohydrates from the diet get stored as glycogen in the muscles after which the remaining gets stored as body fat. This muscle glycogen is used as backup fuel during intense workout sessions. So the glycogen stores drop dramatically after such training sessions. If this muscle glycogen is not replaced at the earliest, with adequate carb intake, then subsequent training performances will get negatively affected.
To quickly replenish your glycogen stores, consume 1.5 g of high-glycemic carbohydrates per 1 kg of body weight after the workout. Glycogen synthesis gets reduced by 50% if the carbohydrate consumption is delayed by more than two hours. The earlier you have your post workout meal, the higher the rate of glycogen synthesis.


3. Soothing Excess Inflammation

Glycogen and fat and even muscle tissue are broken down for fuel, during training sessions, by catabolic hormones. Muscle tissue breakdown can be prevented by taking in adequate protein before the workout. But if these catabolic hormones remain high even after the workout session and they will continue to break down more muscle tissue. Post workout nutrition can put an end to this catabolic cascade, which can otherwise continue on for hours after the workout, leading to muscle soreness and inflammation.
As mentioned earlier, it's important to eat the right foods at the right time. Post workout nutrition food choices are chosen specifically to replenishing the glycogen stores, soothe inflammation and muscle soreness, repair muscle tissue and so on. Adding tart cherry juice and ginger to your post-workout protein shakes is a quick way to meet most of these nutritional demands. Tart cherries contain flavonoids and anthocyanins which help suppress inflammation in the muscles. Gingerols, paradols, and zingerone are chemical constituents in ginger that inhibit enzymes which cause pain and inflammation in the body. They also block the production of inflammatory compounds, thus soothing the after workout inflammation.


4. The Metabolic Basis For Muscle Growth

During exercise, muscle tissue becomes damaged at a micro level. Old and weak muscle tissue gets broken down and with proper nutrition, it is then repaired, and we become stronger, leaner, and even more muscular.  The relationship between muscle protein breakdown and the rate of muscle protein synthesis is the metabolic basis of muscle growth.
During and immediately after workouts, muscle protein breakdown increases dramatically while protein synthesis increases only slightly. A lot more muscle is being broken down rather than being built up. This muscle breakdown is suppressed and the more protein synthesis is stimulated when your body is supplied with the right type of nutrients after exercise. An increase in the size of the muscles (muscle hypertrophy) happens only if a positive protein balance can be established during the recovery phase.


5. Repairing And Building Muscle Tissue

Refuelling with high-protein foods immediately after the workout helps repair and rebuild muscle. At least 20 gms to 40 gms of protein is required for maximum stimulation of muscle protein synthesis after resistance exercises.
Eggs are a good option for post workout meals as they have a balanced amino acid profile, so they provide you with all the amino acids you need. A large egg has 6.3 grams of complete protein. Whey protein shakes are another easy source of complete proteins. For those who cannot tolerate lactose or are vegan, pea and soy protein are good alternatives.


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 Also read: 5 ways protein for breakfast can help you lose weight

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