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Muscle Growth with Post-Workout Nutrition

If you design your nutrition plans to maximize muscle growth, you must think about planning and taking properly the most important meal of the day. Do you know which?

It is easy if you have read the title! Yes. Post-Workout meal or meals are the most important.

After an intense weight lifting workout your body system is characterized by three main factors:

1. Glycogen Stores are low.

2. Protein Breakdown is increased.

3. Muscle Protein Balance is negative.

Therefore, for a rapid recovery from exercise, immediately after a workout (strength or endurance), you must:

1. Rapidly replenish the low glycogen stores in your muscles.

2. Rapidly decrease the muscle protein breakdown that occurs with exercise, especially high intensity bodybuilding training.

3. Rapidly force further increases in muscle protein synthesis in weight trainers and/or restore muscle-protein synthesis in endurance athletes.

Failure to accomplish any one of these objectives will lead to a lowered rate of recovery from your workout. And the slower the recovery process is, the less muscle growth you can stimulate!

Studies have found that delaying nutrients (protein and carbohydrate) consumption after a workout can greatly reduce the rate of glycogen restoration and protein synthesis. In fact, the rate of glycogen synthesis is reduced by 50% if nutrients are not consumed immediately after a workout. Besides, delaying post-workout nutrients absorption will negatively affect protein synthesis.

A few hours after a workout, the insulin sensitisation stimulated by intense training will be much lower: there is a two to threefold increase in insulin sensitivity immediately post-workout. After two or three hours, it is down to only 44% above baseline (Levenhagen et al. 2001). So basically, if you wait too long after your workout to consume a mix of fast absorbing proteins and high glycemic carbohydrates, the amount of muscle you will build in response to your session will be significantly decreased.

There are two key factors to rapidly increasing post-workout glycogen synthesis:

1. Adequate carbohydrate availability (to convert to muscle glycogen).

2. High insulin levels (to stimulate glycogen storage and shuttle carbohydrates into the muscle).

An ideal post-workout muscle growth stimulating formula would include fast absorbing proteins, high glycemic carbohydrates, and some additional BCAAs (which have been shown to drastically increase protein synthesis and decrease protein breakdown on their own). Certain amino acids can increase the insulin response to meals. By adding certain amino acids to the carbohydrate/protein beverage in the above study, the insulin responses were considerably higher than the carbohydrate/protein beverage alone.

In order to maximize these two key factors you need to increase the gastric emptiness rate as much as possible. The different proposed ingredients must be fast absorbing. To achieve this goal you must dilute these nutrients into a lot water quantity. Liquid nutrition is more rapidly digested and absorbed, nutrients are more rapidly delivered to the muscle.

The final piece of the post-workout puzzle is the management of protein synthesis. And although this area is a little more complex than managing protein breakdown, there are three key ingredients to increasing protein synthesis immediately after workouts:

1. A proper ratio of BCAAs.

2. High blood levels of essential amino acids.

3. High blood levels of insulin.

You must prioritize 3 main factors as soon as possible.


By John Voight

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