Something that is usually overlooked is the importance of post workout nutrition. It is key to jumpstarting your recovery after your workout.
Protein synthesis, our body’s process of making new proteins, is what contributes to our muscle recovery and growth. Protein synthesis spikes immediately and can stay elevated above our normal level for 24-36 hours following a workout.
Protein should be a priority and it makes sense to consume it following a workout. Protein supplements are a very common approach but consuming them before your workout can be equally effective as post workout. The main reason that protein supplements (particularly whey protein) are popular is that the source is high quality and is digested faster than whole foods. This can be advantageous but it is not mandatory. Aim to consume 20-40 grams of high quality protein before or following a workout. One serving of most protein supplements will almost always fall within that range
The real question is: what works for you? A well balanced meal that is high in protein and other nutrients can also serve as great post workout nutrition. Protein from food sources is always great and is usually preferred by the body.
Another important thing to remember is that even though there’s a spike in protein synthesis following a workout, you still must meet your daily protein needs. If you have a protein shake after a workout and follow that by doing a poor job of meeting
your protein requirements over the following days, that one post workout shake is essentially worthless. The goal should always be to consume protein on a consistent basis.
Lastly, post workout nutrition is going to be situation specific. Let’s say you exercise later in the day or after work. If you’re going to be home shortly after your workout, skip the shake and eat dinner. If you exercise in the morning before work, have a shake if you can’t sit down for a meal afterwards. One scoop of protein powder does not count as breakfast, starting your day with whole foods should still be your priority. A combination of supplement and food would be acceptable.
Post workout nutrition is important but keeping a consistent and nutritious diet is what will win every single time to ensure your health, energy and recovery. Each day might be a little different but don’t stop making yourself a priority. Find a way.
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Michael has been working with clients in the gym and countless adults in a physical therapy setting since 2013. He spent 3 semesters working at Towson University with student-athletes from nearly every sport at the school. He served as the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for Kennard-Dale High School during the 2019-2020 school year. His goal is to always get better and give you the safest and most effective use of your time at First Capital Gym.