Far too many athletes are guilty of skipping meals directly after they workout. The common thought is to simply cool down and either get ready for the day or bed without even thinking about post workout food. Most think, I burned fat, ate less calories must, that be good right? WRONG.
I think we've all been guilty of this scenario of being too tired or rushed to eat something after we work out. And let's face it, sometimes our workouts are so strenuous that eating almost seems impossible, especially if you've pushed your body to the max. But post workout nutrition is extremely important. Not only is it setting your body up for future success, it's also helping repair the "damage" you've done to it already.
I say damage because when you work out, especially with weights or bodyweight exercises, your body's muscles are actually creating tiny little tears within. It's only when these tears get repaired that they can grow into bigger, stronger muscles. And the fuel to help start the reparation process is received through your nutrition.
Glycogen or our "blood sugar" is the extra energy your body stores for physical activity. Muscle can access this energy immediately which makes it very very important for intense physical activity. After an intense workout these stores are used up and they only way you can replace them for the next workout is through proper nutrition. You want to be refueled and ready to go when next workout comes around.
Branch Chain Amino Acids:
Branch Chain Amino Acids aid muscle growth and recovery. Most importantly, they are not naturally occurring so we need to supplement on a daily basis through whole foods or specific BCAA supplements. Without getting too technical you need BCAA's because they keep your body "Anabolic" which means building muscle as opposed to being "Catabolic" which means your body is burning muscle for energy. Who wants to get a great workout in and find out your body is breaking down your much needed lean muscle.
Creatine can be a beneficial addition to your post workout shake. Most post workout formulas include this already. Creatine helps the body produce more ATP which fuels your muscles. It is predominantly used in high intensity / explosive sports like football or weightlifting. Creatine has been known to create bloating and cramping for some so test it out first.
Protein's and Fats
As specific nutrition will be an entire separate article I will assume we are all eating a gluten free, low carbohydrate diet. In this case, the consumption of proteins and fats are vitally important post workout. Your body uses the protein for rebuilding and it uses the fats for immediate energy. A simple steak and veggies meal will go a long way to immediately rebuilding muscle.
Post workout nutrition practices are widely discussed amongst groups. Every person has their own specific rituals and routines, but for the most part, it's understood that your post workout meal should rely heavily on protein and bcaa's. The meal after your workout is the most forgiving meal you will eat throughout the day. Your body is in its' prime state to absorb nutrients … in fact, it's begging for them.