This is a great little piece on the importance of what to eat and when, as it relates to your exercise.
Quick read, spot on.
If you want to build muscle, lose fat or perform at your best, then what you eat is of the utmost importance. But nutrition researchers have recently come to understand and appreciate that when you eat could be just as significant as what you eat. Arguably the most nutritionally important period of the day is during your workout window, the time just before your workout and several hours afterward. Proper nutrition during this period will take your fitness to the next level. Many people don’t understand the nature and value of the workout nutrition window, though, or they believe certain myths about what to do during this time. But it’s not as complicated as it sounds, and you can easily maximize this time of day to accelerate your progress.
THE WORKOUT NUTRITION WINDOW
Physical exercise causes a distinctive hormonal and metabolic disruption in the body, which you can take advantage of with certain nutrition strategies. Of particular importance is the workout nutrition window. The more you know about this specific timespan and how to utilize it, the greater your fat loss, muscle growth and athletic performance will be.
The workout nutrition window begins 20 to 30 minutes before you exercise and lasts for one to two hours after the workout. During this period, your body uses nutrition to counteract muscle breakdown and take advantage of increased insulin sensitivity, preferentially shuttling nutrients toward muscles and away from fat cells. There is also an increase in blood flow to working muscles. This blood delivers nutrients, stimulating muscle regrowth and repair.
Alwyn Cosgrove, co-owner of Results Fitness, chosen by “Men’s Health” as one of America’s 30 top-rated gyms, makes sure that every client at his fitness center is getting proper workout nutrition.
“We take workout nutrition so seriously at Results Fitness that there is a post-workout shake checkbox on our clients’ training programs,” said Cosgrove. “Clients record their post-workout shake just as they do sets and reps from their training program.”
WORKOUT NUTRITION MYTHS
For years, myths about workout nutrition have been mistakenly accepted as scientific fact, causing avid exercisers to settle for less than optimal results, decreased performance and poor recovery.
Don’t eat after your workout.
For years many exercisers commonly accepted that abstaining from eating or drinking anything for 60 minutes after a workout would accelerate fat loss by increasing levels of growth hormone in the blood. A 1998 article in “The International Journal of Sports Medicine” notes, however, that immediately after a workout is the best time to refill the muscles’ energy stores, and waiting two hours can decrease their ability to rapidly replenish these stores by 50 percent. John Ivy writes in “Nutrient Timing: The Future of Sports Nutrition” that avoiding food following your workout may actually decrease insulin sensitivity for the following 24 hours.
Joe Dowdell, fitness expert and co-owner Peak Performance, always makes sure his clients get proper nutrition after training. His gym was ranked No. 1 in New York City by readers of a popular web portal.
“During training, the stress hormone cortisol increases,” he said. “After training we want to lower cortisol, while at the same time providing the body with the proper nutrients to start the recovery process. By using a carbohydrate and protein shake, we can accomplish both things simultaneously.”
Post workout nutrition is what matters.
Post-workout sports drinks are deceptively titled because you should actually start drinking them before you begin working out. Start sipping on a workout shake 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercising to increase muscle blood flow and muscle protein synthesis, writes Kevin D. Tipton and his team in the “American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism.”
Carbohydrates are the most important nutrient to get during and after you exercise.
Most sports drinks contain only carbohydrates; thus, the majority of people at the gym sip on carbohydrate-only beverages during and after their workouts.
But adding as little as 10 g of protein to a carbohydrate-based sports drink can have significant metabolic effects. The simple addition of protein decreases the muscle- catabolizing hormone cortisol, increases muscle energy store replenishment rates and boosts protein synthesis, or muscle building.
KEY STEPS FOR MAXIMIZING THE WORKOUT NUTRITION WINDOW
Maximizing the workout nutrition window is simple. Start sipping on your workout shake 20 minutes before exercise. This primes your metabolic pump, getting amino acids and sugars into your bloodstream, where they’ll be ready for your body to use by the time you start working out.
Continue to sip on your workout shake as you train. This is especially important if your workout lasts longer than one hour. Sipping on a workout shake throughout your training session provides a constant flow of carbohydrates and amino acids to working muscles, allowing you to maintain top performance during your entire workout.
Then finish off your workout shake when you complete your workout; and if muscle growth is your goal, have another one immediately. During the hours following exercise, the human body is essentially a nutrient sponge. It’s ready to soak up carbohydrates and amino acids and use them to restore muscle energy reserves, repair torn muscle fibers and fast-track the recovery process so you can train longer and harder during your next session. Therefore if your aim is bigger and stronger muscles, adding another workout shake is a simple and effective way to supplement more calories into your diet and have them used for muscle-building and not fat-cell expansion.
Finally, workout nutrition “meals” should be liquid. Liquid protein and carbohydrates enter your bloodstream and reach your muscles faster than those in a solid meal, which must be broken down and digested. Additionally, shakes help keep you hydrated during your workout, another key to optimal performance.
In the end, if you want to recover from workouts faster, experience greater fat loss and increase muscle growth, remember why, when and what kind of nutrition your body requires and make certain you get it. The amount of calories, the type of calories and the time you consume the calories are all factors that affect your health and fitness.