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May 12, 2014

Post Workout Supplementation

Andrew McInroy, B. Sc. Nutrition
By Andrew McInroy, B. Sc. Nutrition

One of the features that makes an elite athlete, “elite”, is their ability to recover fast for competition. During workouts and exercise, the muscles experience micro tears and this is essentially damage to the muscles. Part of increasing your performance is to always push yourself in your sport in order to overload your muscles and achieve these micro tears because the body responds to this by repairing the muscles and making them come back bigger and stronger. Of course if you’re an endurance athlete, slow twitch muscle fibers are enhanced which don’t really get “bigger” and you increase your cardiovascular abilities. But the point is that in order to be your best at whatever you’re doing, you need to push yourself to the max in the gym, but eating right and supplementing right outside of the gym may be even more important. This is because you need to provide the building blocks and the fuel that is required for this recovery process to be optimized. This article will discuss the essential nutrition and supplementation factors you must achieve in order to maximize your recovery.

Nutrition & Supplementation for Max Recovery

Protein – This is probably the most important thing in achieving fast recovery. The amount of protein you want to consume for best recovery is 1.5 g of protein per lb of body weight. A 180 lb male should then consume 270 g of protein. With this much protein, you want to divide it up into 30 – 50 g of protein per meal. Make sure to achieve your protein from high quality protein sources as they have all the essential amino acids, especially a high concentration of the amino acid leucine which is the most important for protein synthesis (muscle building and recovery). Aim to get your protein from sources such as: Whey, Casein, Egg Whites, Eggs, Chicken, Extra Lean Steak, Turkey, Greek Yogurt, Seafood (Tuna, Tilapia, Haddock, Salmon).

Omega-3s – Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils actually increase protein synthesis. Make sure to supplement with them.

Carbohydrates – You will need to experiment to find the right amount of carbs. This subject deserves an article of its own. However, to summarize: try and find an amount that will allow you to gain muscle, maintain a low body fat percentage, and have maximum performance. The number of carbs may differ from day to day, based on the sport or body part you’re working. For instance in bodybuilding, a lower body day would require more carbs than an arm day. Generally, a meal should contain no more than 80 g of carbs and you want to have most of your carbs at breakfast, pre-workout and post-workout – these are times that increase the chances of the carbs going to / being used by the muscles and not going to fat cells. Start keeping a journal and logging how many carbs you had on certain days and see how it correlates with your performance and decreases / increases in body fat percentage. If you learn how to manipulate carbs for your body and sport, you have achieved greatness in nutrition.

Hydration – A dehydrated muscle cell results in decreased protein synthesis. And on the other hand, a well hydrated muscle cell increases protein synthesis. This means that you want to always drink lots of water for the best recovery possible. Furthermore, staying well hydrated will increase all parameters of performance including cognition and motor skills. Aim for 3 – 4 L of water per day. If you are sweating a lot or playing in the heat, you may need even more water than this.

Night Time Nutrition – I am the nutritionist for a university hockey team and I have them on this protocol and they always tell me that their “legs feel fresher”. This means they are recovering faster! So here is what you do. You want to have a slow digesting protein right before bed and you can even have some healthy fats with this meal to further slowdown the digestion. The point of the slow digesting protein is to give you amino acids for the next 6 – 8 hours while you sleep. When you sleep you release a lot of growth hormone so providing the building blocks during this time is very important for max recovery. The best protein sources before bed would be casein protein powder, greek yogurt (make sure it is plain and that the carbs are low [around 6 g of carbs per serving or less] and the protein is high [15 g of protein per serving or more]) and fat free cottage cheese. Personally, I recommend Optimum Nutrition 100% Casein protein and I like the chocolate flavor mixed with 1 table spoon of all natural peanut butter before I go to bed.

Fruits and Veggies – Fruits and veggies are important in recovery because they contain lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and immune boosting properties. If you are trying to maintain low body fat percentage then aim to have fruit only immediately after your workout and first thing in the morning. Have at least one salad per day with a mixture of mostly greens and other colors. Avoid cheese, bacon bits, and high calorie dressing. Come on guys – taste or results? One of my classic meals that I always recommend is the full chicken breast cut up into a salad with low calorie dressing. Try eating kiwis – the vitamin C content is extremely high.

Multivitamin – There are thousands of metabolic reactions that take place in your body. As an athlete, you require more vitamins and minerals than the average sedentary individual. If any vitamin or mineral is deficient in your body, it will have a negative effect on many systems. Achieving all the vitamins and minerals you need from your diet is actually quite a task so as reassurance, definitely get a multivitamin. It may be one of the best investments you ever make for your performance, recovery and health!

Pre-Workout Nutrition – You want to make sure that during this time you get a faster digesting protein such as white fish or chicken and some good complex carbs such as brown rice, oatmeal, yams, sweet potatoes, quinoa or Ezekiel bread and this will result in a sustained release of energy for your exercise. Aim to have 1 – 2 hours in between your food and exercise.

Pre-workout Supplementation – Creatine is a great supplement to help with recovery and it also helps to keep your muscle cells hydrated which is very important for protein synthesis. Furthermore, your phosphocreatine levels will be enhanced and this is extremely important for performance. Also supplement with beta-alanine as this will help to buffer acidity in your muscles.

During Your Workout – There is no doubt that if you want the max recovery possible, you HAVE to have branched-chain amino acids (BCAA). Supplementing with these will prevent muscle catabolism, increase protein synthesis, and also give you more energy during your workouts. You want one with a high leucine content because leucine has the role of regulating the translation initiation of protein synthesis aka it’s role is to turn muscle building and recovery on. That’s why I recommend USPlabs Modern BCAA because it has an 8:1:1 ratio along with Sustamine which is a special type of glutamine that is resistant to breakdown in water. Supplementing with glutamine is important for recovery because it is an amino acid that is greatly depleted during your exercise and it is also important for cell hydration which of course makes it important for protein synthesis.

Post-Workout Nutrition + Supplementation – This is the time that you need to have great nutrition and supplementation if you really want to recover the fastest and also increase performance. Try and consume your post-workout nutrition and supplementation immediately after your workout – this means even bringing it with you to the gym in a bag so first thing you get back in the locker room you can consume it. After your workout you should have whey protein, which is the BEST source of protein after a workout because it has an extremely high bioavailability, amazing amino acid spectrum with a large amount of leucine, and it digests superfast. After your workout, a mixture of fast and complex carbs is best in order to refuel your carbohydrate stores. Also after your workout, take some creatine in order to replenish your phosphocreatine stores and also enhance cell hydration. You can buy multiple supplements to have awesome post-workout nutrition OR you can buy the best post-workout supplement on the market: Extreme Forces USA PWO AFTERMATH. This supplement has everything you need after a workout: high quality whey protein isolates, fast and slower digesting carbohydrates for refueling, creatine, and many other ingredients that will help you recover and come back stronger and faster. I highly recommend it if you want to take your physique and performance to the next level.

Conclusion – Recovery is essential to performing your best. Whether that is an endurance sport or making the most out of a gym session; you need your muscles and body 100% ready to go. The best way to achieve this is through proper rest, reducing stress, training right and of course, advanced nutrition and supplementation! Eat lots of protein, eat the right amount of carbs for YOU, take your omega-3s, drink lots of water, consume a slow digesting protein before you sleep, eat your fruits and veggies, get a multivitamin, fuel up during your pre-workout meal, take creatine before and after your workout, take beta-alanine before and after your workout, drink BCAA during your workout, and after your workout take the best supplement possible: Extreme Forces USA PWO AFTERMATH. Does that sound like a long list? NOPE! This is your life style, your goals, and if you really want something, you will do WHATEVER IT TAKES! NEVER GIVE UP