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THE SIX MOST IMPORTANT POST-WORKOUT NUTRIENTS
By Jim Stoppani, Ph.D.
At the end of every workout, the muscle fibers you have trained are in a state of disarray. They¹re literally torn up from the torture you subjected them to in the gym. Their levels of glycogen (the storage form of carbs) have been depleted, and they are quickly breaking down the protein they are made of. The good news is they are also primed to take up whatever nutrients you throw at them and turn this state of disarray into an anabolic state of recovery and muscle growth. You¹d better hurry, though. Research suggests there is a 45-minute window after workouts when muscles will take in higher amounts of nutrients. Miss this opportunity, and recovery and muscle growth will be compromised. After workouts, down these six ingredients ASAP.
That short post-workout window does not refer to when you consume nutrients; it refers to when those nutrients get to your muscles. The only protein fast enough for the job is whey. That is one reason it is always good to finish with a whey shake.
Research shows that while whey spikes muscle protein synthesis, adding casein keeps it going for longer and further enhances muscle growth. A good option is to look for a protein powder that already combines whey and casein.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)‹leucine, isoleucine, and valine‹are the most critical aminos for muscle growth. Studies now point to leucine as being the master switch that starts the process of protein synthesis.
You will need a quick shot of carbs to get to your muscles. Slower-digesting carbs like fruit or oatmeal won¹t reach them within this short window to replenish glycogen levels for adequate energy during the next workout.
You need to keep creatine levels high inside muscle cells for optimal strength and energy. After workouts is the best time to maximize creatine uptake, especially when it gets a boost from carbs.
This amino acid is now known to be critical for maintaining muscle strength and endurance. Studies suggest that it further aids the benefits of creatine, including muscle growth.