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Post Workout Meals

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Yesterday I posted an article about what to eat/drink pre-workout.  Today I want to address what you should eat/drink post workout.  When it comes to working out, the most important meal you eat is the  one you have after you exercise.

You see, for about an hour after your workout, there’s a window of opportunity when your muscles are literally starving for nutrients.  This is the perfect time to give your body the nutrients it needs to recover and progress.  The meal you eat at  this time is the most important for building muscle and replenishing energy sources.  I prefer the P90X Results and Recovery DrinkNot only does it taste great but it also gives my body everything it needs to recover from a P90X or Insanity workout.  CLICK HERE for ingredient list.

Protein

The first thing your body needs is a nice fresh supply of amino  acids.  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are used by your body for making muscles, hormones, neurotransmitters, bones and all sorts of other  important things. Exercise depletes critical amino acids such as glutamine, valine, isoleucine and leucine–and the way you replenish your body’s supply is with protein.  The P90X Results and Recover Drink contains all several of these BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids, along with a small amount of Creatine)  Like I mentioned in the Pre workout article if your tight on your budget you can also get protein from meat, chicken, eggs, fish or whey protein powder.

Carbs

The second  thing you need is some carbohydrates.  Exercise draws upon your body’s stores of  glycogen, which is the storage form of sugar.  Glycogen waits in the liver and  the muscles for a signal that sugar is needed: “Hey, she’s exercising, let’s  give her some fuel!”  Your body can hold about 1,800 calories of sugar as  glycogen, which is plenty to fuel any workout short of a marathon, but athletes  do best when their glycogen stores are full, so unless you are on a  carb-restricted diet, some slow-burning carbs after working out is a good idea.  (Hint: The best carbs are oatmeal, brown rice, grains like quinoa or amaranth,  and all vegetables and fruits).

Your muscles need protein for repair and  growth, and your body needs some carbs to replenish its glycogen stores.  Remember,  right before exercise you have to consider the time it takes to digest food, so  you need to go light.  But post-workout is the ideal time to have a full meal.  So what’s the best meal, or combination of foods, to have post-workout?  Since I workout at 4:30 A.M. I immediately drink my P90X Recovery Drink, shower and eat breakfast that consists of 1 cup of oatmeal with almond milk and a bowl of mixed fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries).

I also wanted to mention another post workout drink that I’ve read about lately.  It might surprise many of you and its one that I would suggest only occasionally.  Chocolate milk.  Post-workout chocolate milk is beneficial because of its protein content.  Every cup contains between 8 and 11 grams of protein.  Ideally, you’ll want to consume between 15 and 25  grams of protein after a workout, which equates to 500 to 750 ml of chocolate  milk.

Also, a study in the American Journal of Clinical  Nutrition found that, when taken immediately after exercise, milk-based  proteins promote greater muscle protein synthesis than soy-based proteins.

Finally, another reason why post-workout chocolate milk is beneficial is  because cow’s milk contains about 80% casein protein content and 20% whey  protein content.  This is ideal because the whey protein is fast-acting, allowing  amino acids to get right into the muscle tissue, while the casein protein is  digested slower, providing a steady stream of amino acids over a lengthier  period of time.

Turning to post-workout chocolate milk immediately  following your lifting sessions is a smart move because of the types of  carbohydrates it provides.  The total carbohydrate count will vary depending upon  the brand you choose, with most coming in around 20 to 25 grams of  carbohydrates.  The highest carb count is found in Hershey’s 2% Chocolate Milk, which rings in at 31 grams.

However, beware that Chocolate Milk contains lots and lots of sugar.  Sugar will cause a spike in insulin levels.  Without this insulin spike, you’re going to be looking at a slower recovery period, which could mean  more time after your workout.

A study by the International Journal of  Sports Nutrition had subjects perform three interval-style, exhaustion workout sessions on separate days, and then monitored the recovery that was  demonstrated.  The subjects consumed  either chocolate milk or a carbohydrate  replacement fluid post-workout.

It was seen that after the recovery period was over, those who were drinking post-workout chocolate milk showed enhanced performance between the interval sessions, indicating that the carbohydrates in chocolate milk were doing a better job in recovery than the carbohydrates in the replacement beverage.

Chocolate milk has a bad rep for being full of sugar, but perception is quickly changing and people are turning to it after their  workout sessions.  So, if your low on funds and you need a quick and easy recovery drink, you may want to consider chocolate milk.

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