If the first step in packing on muscle mass is having a solid muscle building workout plan, the second step is putting together a smart post-workout meal. Don’t ever let yourself think that you’ve finished your job the minute you step foot out of the gym.
If the truth is told, you’re far from finished. At that very minute, you’ve just caused yourself to lose muscle. Yes, that’s right – lose muscle. Not making much sense?
Let me explain. Each time you step foot in the gym and lift heavy weights, you’re tearing your muscle tissues down. You’re exposing them to an overloading stress that they aren’t able to handle. As such, they tear and become broken.
So in order to build more muscle now, since getting stronger and larger, not weaker and smaller is your goal, you need to provide the second element in the equation – food.
Without food, your muscles stay in that broken down state and you will find you’re getting weaker over time.
Calorie And Macronutrient Make-Up
The very first thing that you’ll want to consider is the calorie and macronutrient make-up of that post workout meal. This refers to how much energy you’re supplying your body and what mix of nutrients.
This is going to vary slightly depending on your current body weight, how quickly you want to build muscle, how high your daily calorie intake is, and how long your workout session is.
The longer the workout, the faster you want to gain weight, and the higher your daily calorie requirement is, the more food you’ll want to consume.[adrotate group=”1″]For most guys who are training intensely, anywhere from 400-600 calories tends to work well. Keep in mind that about an hour after your post-workout meal, you’ll want to follow it with another solid meal to really consolidate the nutritional process during this post-workout period.
For the first post-workout meal, you want to aim for high protein, high carb selections. Avoid fat at all costs. Fat during this time is only going to slow the delivery of the nutrients into the muscle cells and is certainly not what you want.
On average you should be taking anywhere from 30-50 grams of protein and then the remainder should come from carbs. This will work out to around 50-100 grams depending on your total calorie requirement of that meal.
Smart Post Workout Food Choices
Looking at the food choices that should make up your post-workout meal, choose a fast digesting protein along with a fast digesting carb.
While the goal throughout the day is to keep blood sugar levels stable, immediately after your workout you actually want to spike your blood sugar levels up.
Simply because by doing so, you’ll create a high release of the hormone insulin, which will drive both the amino acids and glucose straight into the muscle cells. This is an ideal situation for muscle growth.
So smart food choices would include whey isolate protein powder, white fish, or egg whites for protein. Smart carb choices would include foods such as white bread, white bagels, sugary cereals, dextrose, or maltodextrin.
Some people often use fruit for their post-workout meal and while this will contain some simple sugars, it also contains fructose which won’t go into the muscle cells. So all in all it’s not most ideal. The best case scenario is 100% pure glucose since that is what will re-saturate muscle glycogen levels the fastest.
Most guys do find that using a protein/carb shake works slightly better for their post-workout meal as opposed to whole food sources, so they’ll choose to combine whey protein powder with a powdered form of carb such as dextrose, waxy maize, or maltodextrin. If you can’t get a hold of those, Gatorade powder will also work great.
Post-Workout Meal Timing
Now we must talk about timing. Some guys do get very caught up in thinking that if they don’t consume their post-workout shake within 2 seconds of being out of the gym, they’re going to really hinder their results.
While timing is definitely important, there’s no need to take it to this extreme. Generally speaking, the sooner you can get that shake in the better. But, if you need to have a quick 5-minute shower first, that’s fine.
As long as you get your post-workout meal in within 15-30 minutes, you’ll be on top of the game. Don’t stress yourself out over this as that stress is likely to cause more harm than the delayed interval of the meal.
Considering Post-Workout Supplements
Finally, the last thing that you might want to think about when looking at your post-workout meal is additional supplements that you can add to take your muscle-building progress one step further.
It’s no secret that many guys will see slightly better muscle building results when certain supplements are added, so by making the most of this, you can accelerate your mass gains.
Two very smart supplements to add during the post-workout meal or shake is creatine and glutamine. These are both recovery-oriented supplements that will help prepare you for the next time you enter the gym.
Always remember that the main mission of that post workout meal is to speed up the recovery process so that you can get back into the gym again and train sooner.
Creatine will restore the higher energy precursor that will help fuel every single muscle contraction you perform and glutamine will ensure that your immune system is strong and ready to carry out the muscle tissue regeneration process.
Both of these can easily be added to your shake, or if you’re having solid food, you can just take these with some water or juice.
So there you have the in’s and out’s of a smart post-workout meal. If you want to see the best results from your training program, getting this in order will be vital to success.