Ask any bodybuilder what the toughest aspect of their chosen sport is, and nine times out of ten they’ll tell you they struggle with the diet and nutritional side of things. Muscle, as they say, is built in the kitchen, so getting your nutrition on point is vital. In terms of importance, post-workout nutrition is vital. The foods and drinks that you consume following a workout, can play an integral role in determining just how much muscle you’re able to build and how quickly you can recover. But what are the best things to eat and drink after your workout? Let’s find out, as we now look at some top foods and drinks you should consume post-workout to maximize your gains.
A whey protein shake with water – When you lift weights in the gym, contrary to popular belief, you’re not building muscle at all. In fact, you’re doing the exact opposite as you are destroying muscle tissue. We don’t grow in the gym, we grow when we rest, as long as the body has what it needs to repair the muscles. Protein plays a vital role in muscle growth and repair. Immediately after training, the cells in your muscles are completely empty and are ready to absorb the protein, amino acids, and nutrients needed to grow. Whey protein is a fast-absorbing protein that fuels the cells in the muscles and initiates protein synthesis. Water speeds up the absorption rate further still, so the quicker the protein is absorbed, the better.
Dextrose – To really maximise the anabolic effects of a post-workout protein shake, simply add a scoop of dextrose to your shake. Dextrose is a simple carbohydrate which causes a spike in insulin. Insulin is a hormone which regulates blood sugar levels and shuttles nutrients from the blood into the cells. By causing a spike in insulin, the protein and aminos in your blood from the shake,are forced into the muscle cells much quicker, and in higher volumes. The more that can be absorbed, the more muscle you will build.
Eggs and wholegrain toast – As useful as a shake is after training, you still need a whole food source shortly after. Eggs are the perfect bodybuilding food. They are high in protein, they contain healthy fats, and they provide a complete amino acid profile, including BCAAs. The best way to consume them is with wholegrain toast, as this provides complex carbohydrates which will provide a sustained release of energy, as well as B vitamins which boost the metabolism. Eggs are also rich in vitamin D and choline, so they’re great for your mood and your brain.
Sweet potato – As important as protein is, carbohydrates are also very important after training. This is because glycogen levels become depleted during training, and they will need to be replenished in order for your energy levels to become stable. Sweet potatoes have a surprisingly low glycemic index and are a great source of fiber. What’s more, they are packed full of vitamin A and beta carotene, making them ideal for health and well-being in general. For a balanced post-workout meal, try a baked sweet potato with a portion of green beans and a wild salmon fillet. Seriously, it’s one of the best post-workout meals going.