What to eat after strength training? Do I need to consume protein right away? Learn the top 4 post-workout nutritional myths and the real scientific facts about it.
You are doing the last exercise in your workout. You try your best by lifting dumbbells or a barbell. Then you run to the locker room for a quick protein shake. But when you open your gym bag, you see that the protein is left at home … “No!” – you shout: it turns out that your training was in vain. Everyone knows that if you do not consume protein after training, then the time in the gym was wasted. Such situations happen all the time.
Gym goers run to drink protein immediately after exercise to avoid losing weight and gaining the muscle gains they want. Is it really that important? Is the post-workout meal really as important as we are told? Let’s find out what science actually says about it. Below are some of the post-workout nutritional myths, as well as the scientific pros and cons.
Myth 1. Post-workout nutrition should be protein and carbohydrate.
Theory… Protein is needed for gaining muscle mass, that is, in order to reduce the breakdown of muscle proteins and increase their synthesis. Carbohydrates are required to replenish glycogen stores.
Scientific evidence… Muscle hypertrophy is the result of a positive protein balance that is achieved when synthesis muscle protein prevails over its destruction. Protein synthesis is the process by which muscles are built. Eating protein foods reduces muscle protein breakdown and improves muscle protein synthesis. L. Anderson has convincingly proved that the consumption of protein before and after training leads to an increase in the size of muscle fibers and strength indicators. This suggests that post-workout protein is probably beneficial. But what about carbohydrates?
It turns out that insulin does not have any effect on muscle protein synthesis, unlike protein (see more about this in A. Staples’s article “Carbohydrates do not enhance exercise-induced muscle protein gains compared to protein alone” in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, July 2011). Thus, carbohydrates are not needed post-workout if the protein intake is sufficient to maximize muscle protein synthesis.
How Much Protein Is Enough? American scientist D. Moore found that the ideal amount of protein after exercise is 20-25 grams, and essential amino acids – 9 grams. These are the numbers quoted by M. Bilin in his article Nutritional Strategies to Improve Post-Workout Recovery (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, December 2010). So why is everyone talking about combining carbohydrates and protein shakes? The human body replenishes glycogen stores on its own, without consuming carbohydrates after exercise. However, consuming extra carbs will help speed up this process.
For athletes who exercise several times a day (morning, afternoon, and evening) or who are exposed to prolonged heavy aerobic exercise, post-workout carbs can be very beneficial. But after strength training, they are usually not required. If you exercise once a day, your body can easily replenish its glycogen stores until the next workout.
Read also: Carbohydrates as fuel for crossfit training
Myth 2. Post-workout nutrition varies by gender and body type
Theory. All people are different. For example, a woman who wants to gain muscle and burn fat does not have the same nutritional needs as a man who is building muscle.
Scientific evidence. Post-workout nutritional recommendations may vary by type and frequency of exercise, but not by body type or gender. Also, regardless of your total daily calorie intake, eating a lot of carbohydrates after exercise will not provide any real benefit. In other words, anyone, whether male or female, with more weight may need more calories than people with less weight, but it is not necessary to satisfy this need immediately after training.
E. Clay’s research on the role of muscle protein breakdown in the protein anabolic response to essential amino acids and carbohydrates after strength training has shown that there is no difference between 30 and 90 grams of carbohydrates in addition to essential amino acids. Both 30 and 90 grams significantly reduce breakdown and increase muscle protein synthesis. If insulin is in the normal range, that is, it is not increased or decreased, its surge does not provide any advantages over a gradual increase in its level. Therefore, for the same training programs and goals, similar nutritional recommendations apply.
Myth 3. Whey Protein Isolate – Best Post Workout Food
Whey Protein Isolate.
Theory. Highly digestible whey protein enhances muscle protein synthesis and maximizes muscle hypertrophy.
Scientific evidence… As R. Koopman notes in his work, essential amino acids in their pure form and unbroken protein maximize the rate of muscle protein synthesis, while …