You kick ass in the gym right? Power lifting, strength training, circuits, olympic, whatever it is you do, you do it with intensity…..right? So how do you prepare your body physiologically before and after your workouts? Huh?…That’s what I thought…..The best, strongest, and most intense of the gym rats usually don’t understand the importance of when and what to drink (yes drink) before or after a workout. I know, you watch the ads on the cage fighting channels, and look at pics of the big dudes in the magazines, and buy a protein drink at the gym, but do you know why? Don’t answer that muscles need protein, because that is only a fraction right.
I will explain first, that the reason liquid form is better than food right before, during, and immediately after a work out is simply that it is absorbed much more quickly into the blood stream. Food takes time, and energy to digest, and you might be missing a window of opportunity that you should never waste. If we want to create a strong, muscular physique, then we need to feed our muscles so that they can build, and repair efficiently.
The body goes through many physiological changes during a workout, immediately after a workout, and for the rest of the time you are either awake, or asleep. During a workout, the body starts immediately depleting your glycogen stores, this contributes to fatigue, and loss of strength. So, research has shown that if you ingest carbohydrates, with protein, during your workout, you can spare your reserves, or make them last longer so to speak. Thus, giving you the ability to work out longer and harder. So before you workout, you should start sipping a drink that is high on the glycemic scale in the carb department. Ones that contain malodextrin and glucose are good. Protein powders mixed into the drink of carbs has shown to extend the ability to work out harder, longer, and with a much higher intensity than just a carb, or protein drink alone.
After your workout is probably the most important time to immediately replenish your depleted stores of glycogen. This is the anabolic phase and lasts approximately 45 minutes after a workout. If you wait until after this time, and eat a meal, you could have likely negated a lot of your hard work in the gym. Your hormones, and muscle cells are in a very fatigued state right now….hungering for nourishment. Studies have shown that if you don’t replenish these stores with high glycemic carbs, and protein at this time, your muscles will not repair, or build themselves to their full potential. As a matter of fact, the book Nutrient Timing states that if you do not intervene with liquid nutrients during this window of time, your metabolic window closes at an extreme rapid rate within 45 minutes! All that hard work for nothing!
The rest of your muscular development is solely based on your workouts, your diet, and your genetics. As I have stated in previous posts, don’t get too hung up on the genetics, you can work out hard enough, and eat well enough to even surprise yourself when you look in the mirror!
Reducing soreness, muscle damage, and injury are key in this conversation also! Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. It is also one of the ones that is depleted almost immediately, and if replenished, can help with soreness, and recovery. I like to add a scoop of glutamine powder mixed into my sports drinks, before, and after a workout.
I know some of this info might surprise you if you are familiar with the term high glycemic. During, and immediately after is the only time that you should be ingesting these sugars, and they will not have an adverse affect on weight gain if used properly during these times only!
The rule is approximately 1:4 for protein to carbohydrates in the powder formulas. There are a few on the market that are pre-mixed. Endurox R4 is one of my favorites. Cytomax also makes a great carb drink that I add to my protein powder shakes…….
Check with your health care practitioner before starting anything new, and always stay up on the newest studies in exercise physiology.
After all, you don’t want any of your hard work to go to waste!