When it comes to post-workout nutrition and supplements it seems that protein always steals the spotlight, and for good reason. There is no doubting the importance of protein in helping muscles grow and recover, however, it shouldn’t overshadow the another major player in muscle repair—carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates, are often misunderstood and have gotten a bad reputation of being fattening and unhealthy—but the truth is we need them, and if they are used correctly they can greatly improve health and performance. Carbohydrates are stored in our muscles as glycogen to later be used as energy, but when dietary carbohydrate intake is restricted or low, the muscle glycogen slowly becomes depleted from exercising. When these glycogen stores are not replenished it can lead chronic fatigue and poor recovery, making workouts and exercise harder and less productive. In order to avoid this, the glycogen that has been used up must be replaced, and post-workout carbohydrates are the key to doing that.
After working out the body is pumping anabolic hormones such as insulin, priming the body’s cells to take in the nutrients it needs to recover and grow. When insulin is released in response to high blood sugar it causes glucose to be absorbed into the cells of the liver and muscles to be stored as glycogen for later use. Insulin also plays an important role in increasing amino acid uptake, and in this way it also aids in protein synthesis. Taking in extra simple carbohydrates after a workout will help to quickly boost the levels of insulin causing more glucose and amino acids to be absorbed up into the cell where they can be used to help repair and rebuild.
- Add simple sugars in with your post-workout protein; try using a 3:1 or 4:1, carb to protein, ratio for post workout shakes or meals. Taking in both these nutrients together after a workout will help aid in greater muscle protein synthesis and glycogen storage leaving you fueled and ready for the next workout .