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You plan every workout, agonizing over exercises, intensity, and rest period length. If you are really meticulous, you also periodize your workouts so that you can make consistent gains over time. However, it’s important to remember that your workouts serve only to impart a stimulus to your body. It is how you adapt to that stimulus that determines your body’s response to the workout. This is where recovery comes into play. If your recovery strategies are strategically planned and implemented, you will be able to optimize the results of your training program.
There are some basic fundamentals of nutritional recovery — things you should do in the few hours following every workout – each with its own important role to play in the process. These strategies have been shown to maximize muscle protein synthesis and suppress muscle protein breakdown. This translates to bigger, fuller muscles, more strength and yes, less bodyfat. Here, we breakdown what you should have and when. More importantly, we explain why.
What: Ingest 20-30 grams of high-quality whey protein
When: Within an hour after your workout
Why: 20-30 grams of whey protein contains the necessary amounts of the anabolic amino acid leucine which has been shown to maximally stimulate rates of muscle protein synthesis.
What: Ingest 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram body mass, ideally from glucose, sucrose, maltodextrin, or glucose polymers, which digest faster.
When: Immediately after your workout and then again one hour later.
Why: Carbohydrates induce the secretion of insulin. This reduces the rate of protein breakdown, which improves net muscle protein balance and ultimately results in greater increases in lean body mass.
What: Approximately 5 grams of creatine monohydrate
When: Immediately after workout along with the carbohydrate and protein ingestion.
Why: To keep muscle fibers saturated with creatine, which has been repeatedly associated with increases in maximal strength and lean body mass.
Application: For a 200-pound male, he would ingest 30 grams of whey protein, 90 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of creatine immediately after his workout. One hour later, he would ingest another 90 grams of carbohydrate. For a 125-pound female, she would ingest 20 grams of whey protein, 55 grams of carbohydrate, and 4 grams of creatine immediately after the workout and then another 55 grams of carbohydrate one hour later.
Remember, the ingestion of the protein and carbohydrates together work in a synergistic manner to improve net muscle protein balance by maximizing protein synthesis and minimizing protein breakdown. The key compounds working here are leucine (contained in high amounts in whey protein) and insulin (secreted by the pancreas in response to the carbohydrate ingestion).
The creatine supplementation serves to maintain elevated creatine-phosphate stores in the skeletal muscles, which maximizes chronic adaptations to training programs.
The science of nutrient timing and recovery has validated the effectiveness of these nutrients, in these amounts, for the best results. If you are not currently employing these nutritional techniques, implement them for a few weeks and determine for yourself if you are stronger, leaner, and better recovered from your workouts.
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