One of the questions we as coaches get asked most frequently is “What can I take after my workout?”.
For those of you that are still wondering, here is a “How to… What…, and When” Guide to Post
workout nutrition. This article will educate you on what to consume after your workout to speed up
recovery, promote growth and assist with strength gains.
Firstly, you need to know that after a workout, your muscles are like sponges, ready to absorb
everything and anything you feed them. Below is a list of nutrients that could (and should) be taken post workout:
It is very well known that protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of
your muscles and body. Without them, it would be impossible to build, repair, or even maintain muscle
tissue. The right amount of protein (25+ grams) will repair tissues and reduce muscle soreness when
taken after training. This will also reduce the amount of stress hormones released (mainly cortisol), which has a huge implication on body fat. Protein should be consumed, primarily from animal
sources, throughout the day, and as soon as is convenient post-workout, if you are training in a fasted state. A general guideline for daily protein intake should be around 1.5-2 grams of protein per 1 kg of lean mass.
All forms of protein are good (except for soy—that’s a discussion for another time). Although whey protein is highly marketed and fairly inexpensive, finding a ‘clean’ option that doesn’t contain tons of unnecessary junk isn’t always easy. Your best bet is always to get it from whole foods.
Magnesium is probably one of the top three recommended supplements for athletes. It regulates heart
rhythm, allows muscles to contract and relax properly, reduces blood pressure, and is necessary to
produce ATP (the main source of energy in our cells), which must be bound to an Mg-ion to be
biologically active. Loads of essential functions; all you need to know is that the stuff is pretty damn
important. Make sure you get a supplement based on amino acid chelates, such as Mg glycinate or Mg
malate – they are much better tolerated by the digestive system and more absorbable by the body.
Mg is best taken post-workout on an empty stomach or before bed. 400 mg for ♂, 300 for ♀ is the RDA. 600 mg a day is the minimum requirement for active individuals.
This vitamin is mostly referenced in relation to immune support and functions, but it also a powerful anti-oxidant as it aids in fighting inflammation, has been shown to reduce muscle soreness, assists with the production of ATP (as Mg does), helps with wound healing (all those box jump scars and pull up tears) and is a cofactor to building collagen and repairing muscle, to name but a few. The thing with vit C is that it needs to be complexed with carbs to increase absorption. Citrussy fruit juices are great as they contain fructose, allowing your body to absorb the nutrient, however, if you are watching your sugar intake, there are products that use Ribose instead. Athletes should take a min of 1000 mg a day and upwards, as it is very difficult to overdose on this vitamin.
Where protein is needed for muscles to grow, carbs are essential to replenish them with the energy they need to recover. If you have ever felt lightheaded, drained, or ‘kaput’ (adj. Slang for “Out of Order”, “broken”,”facing elimination”) during or after your workout, it is likely because you depleted muscle glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrates) during your workout.
Glycogen is the primary fuel our muscles use for energy production. Therefore, optimising glycogen stores is important, and it’s one of the reasons energy levels decrease when reducing carbs. Consuming carbohydrates post-workout will not only replenish these stores, which are essential for recovery and future performance, but will also spike your insulin (a good thing) which acts as a delivery system for nutrients to your cells. Most forms of carbohydrates are good, except for beer, despite what Francesco might preach at Nell Gwynne’s after class, although we believe that it certainly has a dedicated place as part of one’s reward program.
I am by no means an expert, but have found the research on this fascinating and certainly love to share
my findings and preferences.
I hope this helped you answer some of your own questions, if not, feel free to ask/chat/palaver with us
before or after class.
May the gains never stop.