Nutrition after a bodybuilding workout

In the next 20 to 30 minutes after training, you need to eat a meal rich in protein and carbohydrates. This is the only time when it is allowed to include carbohydrates with a relatively high glycemic index in the diet, that is, fast carbohydrates.

During this time period, the so-called post-workout, anabolic or protein-carbohydrate window is open in the body. For this reason, post-workout nutrition is necessary mainly for muscle recovery and activation of muscle growth, since almost all nutrients are included in anabolic processes.

Carbohydrates after exercise

Post-workout carbohydrates are best consumed in an easily accessible form from simple, high-glycemic sources. You need to get your insulin levels up — this hormone has anabolic and anti-catabolic properties. Carbohydrates are needed to replenish the energy expended, and if the body does not get enough of them, then the destruction of muscle tissue begins under the influence of catabolic processes.

The required amount of carbohydrates is approximately 60-100 g.

Carbohydrate products

  • Buckwheat groats (buckwheat porridge);
  • Pearl barley (pearl porridge);
  • Millet groats (millet porridge);
  • Oatmeal (oatmeal porridge);
  • White rice;
  • Pasta (from durum wheat);
  • Bread (bran);
  • Honey (in small amounts);
  • Bananas;
  • Juice (preferably fresh).

A 2017 study shows that watermelon and pomegranate juices , fortified with various nutrients, significantly reduce muscle soreness after strenuous exercise. Researchers believe that antioxidants, tannins, and a certain type of amino acid are responsible for helping with muscle repair.

Koopman et found that after full-body strength training, adding carbohydrates (0.15 or 0.6 g/kg body weight) did not affect the overall protein balance of the body (including in muscle) for 6 hours after training, compared to taking protein alone. Then the Staples scientist published a paper where it was shown that after leg strength training, the increase in muscle protein synthesis when consuming 25 g of whey isolate remained exactly the same if athletes also took an additional 50 g of maltodextrin.

Thus, in bodybuilding, only the total amount and quality of carbohydrates consumed per day matters, while the time of intake is of secondary importance.

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Protein after exercise

Immediately after training, it is advisable to drink a protein shake with a fast proteinenriched with BCAA (5-8 g) or a portion of a gainer (which is a source of both protein and carbohydrates). In this way, you can increase the rate of protein synthesis in your muscles by at least three times (compared to not eating after a workout). Proteins also increase the secretion of the anabolic hormone insulin and have a pronounced regenerative effect on muscle tissue.

The required amount of protein is approximately 20-30 g.

Protein products

  • Protein dishes (recipes)
  • Bird
  • Lean meat
  • Eggs-boiled or omelet
  • Fish
  • Cottage cheese

Alternative opinion

The idea that a post-workout window opens for protein/anabolic and other uses, and that all protein is supposedly used to build muscle, is nothing more than a myth that is useful only for protein producers.

The course of recovery processes begins with the elimination of oxygen debt and the restoration, first of all, of energy homeostasis (a constant composition of the internal environment) of the muscle spindle, which was disrupted during strength training. During the first minutes and hours after training, the body seeks to restore the level of macroergic phosphates and ATP in the cell, primarily by activating oxidative processes. Also, during the first 12-48 hours after exercise, glycogen resynthesis occurs in the muscles and liver, which further increases the energy potential of the muscle cell and the body as a whole. And as long as the body does not restore the level of ATP in muscle tissue, the processes of protein synthesis, that is, anabolism, do not begin. This means that the body’s increased need for plastic material – namely protein-does not occur earlier than 24-48 hours after intensive training, therefore, active inclusion of protein in the diet after training will benefit only your supplement supplier.

Studies that do not refute, but also do not prove an alternative opinion: see figure 2

It is not recommended to consume fatty foods after exercise, as fats inhibit the absorption of proteins and carbohydrates.

Within two hours after the gym, it is advisable to exclude everything that contains caffeine and other stimulants: coffee, tea, cocoa and all”chocolate”. The fact is that caffeine interferes with the work of insulin and thus prevents the loading of glycogen into the muscles and liver. A source

Evening trainingsessions 

As mentioned above, the timing of carbohydrate intake is of secondary importance. Thus, if the training is performed immediately before bedtime, then 2 hours before the start you need to eat a lot. Immediately after the end, it is advisable to take 5-8 g of BCAA, and just before going to bed, drink a portion of complex protein (approximately 30-40 g). Instead of a complex , you can mix 20 g of whey protein and 20 g of casein, or 30-40 g of one type that is available.

Protein supplements can be replaced with 150-200 g of low-fat cottage cheese.

Post-workout nutrition for weightloss 

If your goal is to reduce fat mass, then the tactics of nutrition change – you should not eat for 2-3 hours after the end of classes. This is due to the fact that food provides energy, which eliminates the need to expend your own fats. After performing physical activity, the blood contains a large number of fat molecules that have been released from fat cells, while activated metabolic processes can destroy these free fats for a long time. The nutrition that follows immediately after the workout will force your body to return all free fats to the tissues, and start using the energy of food. To maintain muscle mass, we can take protein and BCAA amino acids.