Your post-workout meal is your most important of the day. You want to consume fast-digesting protein and carbs. Stay away from the fat, as fat will only slow digestion. It will slow down the digestion of your carbs and protein which is exactly what you don’t want.
You want to consume this shake as soon as possible after your workout. Definitely no later than 1 hour after finishing, although 30 minutes would be ideal. Personally, I strive to get my meal in the first 15 minutes after a workout.
Now that we know time is critical to post-workout nutrition, the rest of this article will make more sense. Turkey breast, tuna fish, and egg whites are all great sources of protein, but they are not ideal sources of protein for a post-workout meal. Simply eating food within 30 minutes-1 hour isn’t enough. Your body takes time to digest foods like these, which will put you outside of your time frame. For this reason, a whey protein powder, mixed in a liquid is the absolute best option.
For starter’s, whey protein is the fastest digesting protein there is. Consuming it in liquid form will only speed up the process. Aim to consume .15-.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Now, the other piece of the equation is carbohydrates. I know many of you are scared to death of carbs, but you really shouldn’t be. Here’s why: when you workout your muscle glycogen stores are depleted. Carbs replenish muscle glycogen. If you do not consume carbs after a workout, you body may start breaking down muscle cells to serve this same purpose. This is not a good thing. In addition, consuming carbs causes an insulin spike, which in turn moves nutrients into muscles faster.
Now that we can all agree we need carbs post-workout, what kind do we need? Just like protein, we need fast acting carbs. While a baked potato has a ton of carbs, it is a solid food, which will be digested too slowly for our purposes. You want to consume a mix of Maltodextrin/Dextrose, which are actually two types of sugar. Yes, I know what you are thinking…sugar is bad! How can you recommend sugar?? While avoiding sugar is a smart decision any other time of the day, post-workout is the one exception. Aim to consume .25-.35 grams of carbs per pound of body weight.
The shake listed below is good tasting and gives you exactly what you need following a workout.
- 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
- 8 ounces milk (or water)
- 1/4 cup maltodextrin
- 1/4 cup dextrose
- Banana (optional)
With this shake you take in 61 grams of carbs and 36 grams of protein. Keep in mind this is ideal for a 170 pound individual. Adjust proportions accordingly to better suit your own body weight.