It is crucial to eat the right foods after a workout. For those fitness enthusiasts looking to build lean muscle mass – you have to immediately store your depleted glycogen levels. This article will focus on post-workout nutrition – mainly focusing on the best kind of carbohydrates to consume immediately following a workout.
When you lift weights intensely, you are depleting your muscles’ glycogen levels. In order to recover, repair, and grow those damaged muscle tissues, you have to restore your glycogen levels A.S.A.P. Most experts say the best time to consume carbohydrates for optimal recovery is within the hour immediately following your workout. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation over the last few years, but the fact of the matter is that your muscles need carbohydrates for fuel and to recovery from your workouts. At all other times throughout the day, it is best to consume slow-digesting carbohydrates that do not spike your blood sugar.
The only time of the day you should consume fast-digesting carbohydrates is directly after your workout. Lifting weights puts such a stress on your muscles’ glycogen levels it is vital that you restore them immediately following your training session. A slow-digesting carbohydrate does not do this. You want to consume carbohydrates with the highest glycemic index rating directly following a workout. Healthy carbohydrates like oatmeal, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and legumes are not going to do the trick!
Have you ever had an insanely bad sugar craving following an intense workout? This has a lot to do with the fact that your muscles and body are glycogen-starved; it is craving simple sugars! Most researchers and muscle building experts have come to the conclusion that following a hard weight training session, the optimal ratio of nutrition is 2:1 high glycemic carbohydrates to fast-digesting protein. Consuming dextrose powder immediately following a workout is the best way to restore these glycogen levels. When I go to the gym I will also bring my shaker cup with one scoop whey protein powder (fast-digesting protein) and two scoops dextrose powder (100 glycemic carb source). Dextrose powder is very cheap and goes good with your whey protein, and it makes for an extra sweet treat after your hard workout session. The great thing about dextrose powder is it fuels your muscles and you will also be less likely to crave sugar.
Note: I only recommend this post-workout nutrition formula after weight training. If you are running and your main goal is weight loss, it would not be beneficial to consume these kind of carbohydrates. Your muscles are not depleted of glycogen in the same way following a cardio session. If you are trying to lose weight you want to create a calorie deficit, and the dextrose powder will not help you with this as it is essentially pure sugar.
Some other great post-workout carbohydrate sources are plain table sugar, confectionery sugar, and waxy maize. Waxy maize has gotten a lot of hype recently but in my research it has not been proven to be more effective than good ol’ dextrose powder! I don’t recommend whole food carbohydrate sources immediately following a workout because it will take your body longer to break down and absorb. The great thing about the powder forms of fast digesting carbohydrates is that your body will absorb it fast and it is convenient to take right after your workout! So if you are looking for optimal post-workout nutrition, remember: simple is best! Simple sugars and fast-digesting carbohydrates are key to maximizing your lean muscle gains.