When thinking about diet and nutrition, one of the most common things I hear people talk about is post-workout. Some people think if you don’t have a protein shake the MILLISECOND they stop working out, they’ll lose all their gains.
Others don’t worry about it at all and make fine progress. So where does the answer lie? In this article, I’ll go over exactly what post-workout means and why it matters!
Post-Workout means the period in time after a workout. As soon as the workout is over you’re essentially in the post-workout window. Consuming the right nutrients at this time is incredibly important for overall performance, recovery, and muscle growth.
The main goal of post-workout is to stimulate anabolism (muscle growth), reduce catabolism (muscle loss), and replenish muscle glycogen. The other goal is to recover precious electrolytes that are lost from sweating during a workout. The main electrolyte that assists in energy levels and is a huge performance enhancer, is sodium.
But more on that later.
Now that we know what post-workout actually is, how can we take advantage of it? And what about Pre- (Before) Workout Nutrition? Don’t worry, I’ll be going over all of those in this article as well.
Here we go!
Post-Workout Nutrition For Maximal Results
As funny as this scene is and always will be, Gatorade is definitely a great choice for post-workout nutrition. So don’t discount it as just sugar water!
When considering your post-workout nutrition, you need to focus on these 3 things:
- High Glycemic Carbohydrates. During your post-workout window, you want to consume higher glycemic carbs. Things such as Gatorade, rice, sweet fruits like pineapple, cereal or bread. Using these higher glycemic carbs immediately post-workout allows you to drive the nutrients into the muscle cells faster. This aids in muscle recovery more than anything else. A lot of people consume only a protein shake (which is good!). However, they forget to implement High GI carbs to shuttle the protein into your muscles. Consuming slower GI carbs such as potatoes or oatmeal slows down the absorption into your bloodstream. These are a poor choice for post-workout due to this reason.
- Whey Protein. Immediately after a workout, supplying your body with amino acids in the form of
whey proteinis also very important. Consuming whey proteinright after a workout allows you to recover from hard training and repair muscle tissue. Having your protein after a workout in whey form allows it to digest quickly. After this quick digestion period, the amino acids enter the bloodstream where they are readily available to enter your muscle cells. Over time, this allows you to recover faster, build more muscle/strength, and improve performance.
- Sodium. One of the main things I’ve done to improve my blood pressure, increase strength and improve performance; is to increase my electrolyte intake. Especially sodium. This sounds backward from what everybody hears out there! The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. I completely agree with this, if you’re sedentary. For athletes trying to build muscle mass, get stronger, and improve their performance, increasing your sodium intake is the #1 thing I recommend. And I’m not the only one that thinks so! Stan Efferding, the worlds strongest bodybuilder, trains his clients on proper nutrition for health and performance. Clients such as Hafthor Bjornsson from Game Of Thrones, and Brian Shaw, 4 Time World’s Strongest Man Competitor. During a workout, you sweat out sodium. This needs to be consumed after a workout to maintain the correct balance in your body. If you want to learn more about sodium in your diet, check out this video Stan Efferding posted on his YouTube channel. You’ll learn a ton from this short video so don’t miss out!
How Much To Consume Post-Workout?
No matter how much science advances, drinking a protein shake after your workout will always be an important part of strength and conditioning.
This is what I recommend for the exact amounts of protein, carbs, and sodium you need post-workout to improve recovery, and performance.
- Gatorade 50-100 grams of carbs
Whey Protein25-50 grams of protein
- Himalayan Pink Sea Salt 500mg-1 gram of sodium
Based off of the current science and literature, consuming 50-100 grams of carbs from a high glycemic source such as Gatorade is perfect for post-workout nutrition. By doing this, your recovery times will be greater, you’ll improve your performance, and ensures you’re building the most muscle mass possible.
As I stated in the previous section, consuming sodium in the form of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt post-workout increases recovery and improves performance. I recommend at least 500mg-1,000mg (or 1 gram) to ensure you’re replenishing your sodium intake.
You can also use other Electrolyte Powders such as Liquid I.V. on Amazon. This is one of the only ones on the market I’ve seen that has enough Sodium and Potassium to actually be a valuable supplement to invest in. Try it out and see if you notice a difference in your work capacity and results.
When the goal is increased performance, building muscle, and gaining strength, taking your post-workout nutrition into account is absolutely important for optimal results. If you choose not to pay attention to it, realize you will be leaving gains on the table over time.
What About Pre-Workout Nutrition?
If you look like this after consuming a pre-workout supplement, maybe dial it back a bit ya know?
We’ve gone over Post-Workout Nutrition, but what about Pre-Workout Nutrition?
Pre-Workout Nutrition usually consists of the time 30 minutes to 2 hours before a workout. This is the nutrition you focus on before a workout to improve performance and fuel the workout properly.
Because digestion can take a couple of hours, consuming higher glycemic foods and protein before a workout is what you want to do. Things such as fruit, granola, greek yogurt, are great options. Consuming anything with fast-digesting protein and simple carbs is your best bet. They’ll digest quickly and be readily absorbed in the body to be used as fuel.
If you aren’t concentrating on Pre-Workout Nutrition, you might as well not even workout.
I’ve had a number of clients over the years show up for a session, fatigue super quickly, get nauseous and feel like fainting 15 minutes in. All because they didn’t pay attention to their food intake in those precious hours before a workout.
It can mean the difference between hitting Personal Records on all your lifts and having to quit before you’ve even started. I’ve told clients to go home before due to a lack of energy from not consuming something before a workout.
It’s a waste of my time and theirs to try training in that type of state.
The Best Pre-Workout Supplement
A lot of people think a basic Pre-Workout supplement is enough and it’s not. Supplements will never EVER take the place of food when it comes to performance.
With that in mind, my absolute go-to that I always recommend for pre-workout is basic coffee. You can put protein in it, creamer, or just take it black. No need to pay tons of money on overpriced pre-workouts every year when coffee does a better job for a fraction of the price.
When in doubt, basic caffeine from coffee is the way to go.
When it comes to building muscle, gaining strength, and improving performance, focusing on pre- and post-workout nutrition is absolutely crucial!
The hardest part for most people is figuring out which types of nutrients they need to incorporate in these important periods. If you’re not sure what to do, follow these basic guidelines.
- Coffee with 25-50 grams of
- Gatorade 25-50 grams
- Sodium 500-1000 mg (I recommend mixing it with your Gatorade)
Whey Protein25-50 grams
- Gatorade 50-100 grams
- Sodium 500-1000 mg (mixed with Gatorade)
If you follow these basic guidelines you WILL notice a difference in your performance at the gym. You’ll gain more muscle, do more reps, and get stronger quicker than those that don’t pay attention to any of their workout nutrition.
When performance is the goal don’t forget, carbs, protein, sodium. If you hit those 3 points before and after a workout, you will increase your performance, guaranteed.
If you have any questions on the recommendations or have your own tried and true workout nutrition, let me know in the comments below!
I hope you all see just how important it is to incorporate these basic diet guidelines into your routines. Definitely try them out and let me know how it helped you improve!
Until next time,