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What The Research Says About Eating After Strength Training

 

By Cassandra Forsythe, PhD, RD, CSCS

Whether you’re a competitive athlete or committed exerciser, at some point you’ve probably experienced excessive fatigue and muscle soreness following your workout. Sometimes this tiredness can hold you back from working out as hard as you’d like for many days.  In order to reduce this feeling of delayed recovery and allow your body to get back into the game sooner than later, you need to appreciate the importance of proper exercise nutrition.

Research scientists have shown that proper nutrition supplementation is critical for recovery from intense weight-training and endurance exercise. Most recently, the evidence points to a specific combination of carbohydrates and protein as being the most effective for restoring muscle glycogen (the fuel you use while exercising), repairing muscle damage, preventing muscle breakdown, and promoting muscle growth.  All of these factors are important for your timely return to your workout plan.


Post-workout nutrition & muscle glycogen


The nutrients you ingest immediately following your workout can have a significant impact on how you recover. When you exercise intensely, one of the fuel sources you use is glycogen, which is stores of carbohydrate found within your muscle. This fuel source must be replenished quickly to allow you to workout hard again soon after your initial training session.



It’s easy to understand that one of the most important nutrients you need to take in for this purpose is dietary carbohydrate. However, protein is also important because it works synergistically with carbohydrate to promote very fast muscle glycogen replenishment without having to take in excessive amounts of carbohydrate at one time.

The amount of carbohydrate and protein found to be most effective for endurance and resistance exercise ranges between 1.0  and 1.5 g carbs/kg body weight, and 0.4 to 0.6 g protein/kg body weight.  Endurance exercise depletes more carbohydrate from the muscle than resistance exercise, so weight-trainees can consume less carbs in their supplements.  Ideally a liquid carb-protein supplement should be consumed to maximize glycogen replenishment.


Pre-workout nutrition & muscle damage


Another aspect of intense exercise is muscle damage that results from mechanical stress to your muscle fibers and catabolic hormones released in response to exercise.  Without proper exercise nutrition, your muscles remain in a state of breakdown for many hours. Additionally, muscle glycogen replenishment is reduced when muscle fibers are damaged. Researchers have shown that consuming a combination of carbohydrate and protein before and after a workout can significantly reduce muscle damage and soreness.  Consuming carbohydrate and protein prior to your exercise session can prevent some of the muscle damage that happens during exercise and in the hours following.


Optimal protein synthesis


Most weight-training athletes strive to optimize muscle growth to obtain more lean muscle mass and reduce body fat. However, endurance athletes also experience protein synthesis, but rather than skeletal protein, they induce more mitochondrial protein growth. Either way, optimizing this exercise response requires an ideal balance of protein and carbohydrates taken before and after a workout. Providing amino acids, especially essential amino acid which include the branch chain aminos (BCAAs), right before your workout seems to more effective than taking them only afterwards.



Around 5-6 grams of essential amino acids from whey protein is shown to be most ideal, which can be achieved with about a 20-30 gram serving of protein from Prograde Protein.  Carbohydrates are also beneficial and providing them in a ~2:1 ratio with protein is shown to be best for optimizing your recovery from exercise and stimulating protein synthesis while preventing protein breakdown after exercise.


Prograde Workout
Prograde’s workout recovery drink is formulated to take the guess-workout out of your exercise nutrition plan. It contains the right ratio of carbohydrates to protein, with essential amino acids and additional vitamins and minerals to ensure your nutrition is complete. The quick absorbing carbohydrates from dextrose and maltodextrin combined with the complete protein from whey and milk protein isolate will have you feeling great in no time. Simply consume 1-2 servings after your workout will help improve your recovery and allow you to exercise hard the next time you train instead of feeling sore, tired and unmotivated.  You only get the best from Prograde, so trust it for all your nutritional needs.

 

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References

Optimizing Resistance Exercise Adaptations Through the Timing of Post-Exercise Carbohydrate-Protein Supplementation. Ivy JL and Ferguson, LM. Strength and Conditioning Journal. February 2010

Early Post-exercise Muscle Glycogen Recovery is Enhanced with a Carbohydrate-Protein Supplement. Ivy JL et al. J Appl Physiol. 2002

Stimulation of Net Muscle Protein Synthesis by Whey Protein Ingestion Before and After Exercise. Tipton KD et al. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007