Post Workout Nutrition and Shakes for Muscle Gain and Fat Loss
What you consume after working out is important. After you work out, your body is repairing itself and working on recovery. If you do not provide your body with the proper post workout nutrition, you will not see the muscle gains and fat loss that you want.
While exercise is essential for gaining muscle and losing fat, it does place physiological stress on the body. When you exercise, the muscles’ fuel resources have been depleted and minor damage has occurred. This means that your muscles need repaired and replenished. Of course, the damage and depletion allow your muscles to adapt, as long as you only allow your muscles to be in this state for a short period of time.
Exercise tears down your old, less adapted muscles so the body can build more functional muscles. This process is often referred to as remodelling. However, unless you provide your muscles with the right materials, they will not be able to remodel themselves.
What should the goals of your post workout meal be? Your post workout nutrition should focus on accomplishing the following:
- Reduce the muscle protein breakdown that exercise causes
- Reduce fatigue and muscle soreness
- Reduce cortisol levels after workouts
- Replenish depleted levels of muscle glycogen
- Enhance overall post workout recovery
- Increase protein synthesis within the muscles
One of the best ways to make sure your body is getting the post workout nutrition it needs is to start drinking protein shakes after your workout. Protein shakes with whey protein offer many benefits. If you are not convinced that whey protein shakes are a great choice, here’s a closer look at the benefits of whey protein, how protein shakes enhance results, the continued importance of macro and micro nutrients, and other helpful post workout information.
The Benefits of Whey Protein
Protein is the building block of muscle, which is why it is so essential to fuel your body with protein after a workout if you want to see muscle gains. Exercise causes muscle protein breakdown, which means you need to replenish protein to increase protein synthesis within your muscles. One of the best ways to get your protein is to consume whey protein, which is easily consumed in a shake. Why choose whey protein over other protein options? Here are just a few of the benefits why protein has to offer.
- Benefit #1 – Increase Strength and Size – One of the main benefits of whey protein is its ability to help you increase your strength and size. Research has shown that individuals taking whey protein have enjoyed great increases in muscle strength and fat-free mass. Whey protein can be especially beneficial when consumed both before and after a workout for muscle gain.
- Benefit #2 – Reduce Hunger – If you are trying to lose fat while working towards muscle gains, you may be cutting your calories. Whey protein can help you achieve your goals, since it helps to reduce hunger. Studies have shown that consuming whey protein can reduce the levels of the hunger hormone for several hours. It’s common to feel hungry after working out, so a whey protein shake offers a great way to reduce hunger and stick to your nutrition plan.
- Benefit #3 – Improve Your Immune System – Keeping your immune system strong and healthy is important when you are working out hard. Strenuous workouts have the potential to negatively impact your immune system by reducing glutathione levels. When you supplement your diet with whey protein, it helps to keep glutathione levels from plunging so low, which helps to keep your immune system strong. This can also help to reduce the impact of strenuous exercise on your gastrointestinal and nervous systems as well.
- Benefit #4 – Preserve Muscle and Lose Fat – If your goals are muscle gains and fat loss, whey protein can help you to preserve muscle while losing fat. Studies have shown that adding whey protein to a reduced calorie diet can help you preserve muscle and lose body fat. In some cases, people trying to lose fat cut calories and the body begins to turn to muscle for the energy it needs. However, when you add whey protein to the mix, the protein protects and preserves your muscles while allowing you to lose extra body fat.
- Benefit #5 – Fast Digestion and Bio-Availability – While many different forms of protein are available, whey protein offers an excellent choice because it can be digested quickly and it offers excellent bio-availability. If you consume protein like chicken or steak, it takes time for the body to break down the food so it’s available to your muscles. You don’t have this problem with whey protein. It’s quickly available to your muscles, which makes it an excellent form of protein to use when you’re choosing a protein source for your post workout nutrition.
Protein Shakes Help Enhance Results
Now that you’re aware of the benefits of whey protein, you may be wondering how protein shakes can help enhance your results post workout. The easy answer is that protein shakes, particularly those with whey protein, offer you protein that is easily absorbed and processed.
Many different protein sources are available. One popular option is red meat. When you sit down and consume a steak, you’re getting a large dose of protein. However, the steak also includes quite a bit of time. The digestive system takes time to break down the protein and fats so the body can absorb the protein. This means that your muscles don’t get the protein for quite a while after you eat the steak.
When you consume protein shakes with whey protein, your body enjoys fast-acting proteins that the body can easily absorb with very little wait time. It’s also possible to add other types of protein to the shake that are absorbed more slowly, ensuring you get the protein you need now while providing your body with a steady supply of protein for the hours to come.
You already know that protein is essential for muscle production. Your body uses the amino acids you consume to produce ATP energy, which is the only type of energy that muscles are able to burn. Those amino acids are also used to produce immune system components, enzymes, and hormones like testosterone, which is an important hormone for muscle growth. Protein is also needed to ensure that your muscles can repair the damage that occurs to muscle fibers when you work out. When you consume protein shakes, the amino acids in the protein help to repair muscle fibers while expanding muscle fibers. This increases energy storage and boosts your overall stamina, endurance, and strength.
If you want to see great results, you need to start adding whey protein shakes to your post workout routine. You’ll see muscle in strength and size and you’ll also find it easier to lose fat by boosting your protein intake right after working out.
Macro and Micro Nutrients are Still Important
Whey protein shakes definitely have a lot to offer when it comes to post workout nutrition. However, it’s still important to make sure you’re getting the right macro and micronutrients for muscle gain and fat loss.
You already know that your body needs plenty of protein after a workout, but don’t forget that your body needs some carbohydrates as well. While many people see carbs as the enemy, carbs are important because they offer your body energy. Your body uses up the glycogen in your muscles when you are working out, so it’s important to increase the glycogen stored in muscles after workouts. This means you should add some carbs to your post workout nutrition plan. It’s often easy to add some carbs to your protein shakes by adding some form of lactose, maltose, or sucrose. However, while you do need some carbs after working out, avoid eating too many carbs, particularly if you’re trying to lose fat while gaining muscle.
While fats are an important part of your overall diet, it’s usually best to avoid eating too much fat after your workout. Adding too much fat to your post workout snack or meal can increase digestion time, which keeps the protein you consume from getting to your muscles as quickly.
Micronutrients can also be used to improve your muscle gains and fat loss after your workout. Micronutrients can help your body respond more effectively to your workouts, and micronutrients are even more important to active people. When you want big results, here are a few of the micronutrients you may want to add to your post workout nutrition plan, whether you consume the micronutrients in foods or as supplements.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an important micronutrient to consume post workout because it’s a powerful antioxidant. Exercise damages your muscle tissue, which can create free radicals that need removed. Antioxidants like vitamin C help to destroy free radicals, enhancing your recovery time. Vitamin C also boosts the immune system, which is important when you’re focusing on intense training for muscle gain and fat loss. This vitamin is also essential for the formation of connective tissue and it can help to increase your recovery after working out. Since the body doesn’t store vitamin C, it’s important to get plenty of vitamin C daily. You can take a vitamin C supplement or you can get vitamin C from kale, oranges, sweet red peppers, and grapefruit.
- Magnesium – When you lose fluids through sweat during your workouts, you also lose important minerals. Magnesium is an essential mineral for the body and it can be lost when you sweat excessively while working out. If you want to improve your workout results and protecting your heart and bones, magnesium is crucial. Take a supplement or get more magnesium from whole grains, beans, and certain nuts.
- Vitamin E – Another important micronutrient is Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant as well. It is beneficial for recovery and performance. It helps to strengthen your immune system, which is also important post workout. Consider a supplement or get vitamin E from dark green, leafy veggies, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and wheat germ.
- Beta Carotene – Beta carotene, which is a plant based form of vitamin A. As an antioxidant, it offers some specific recovery benefits for individuals who engage in tough workouts. You can take a supplement of beta carotene or you can get this micronutrient from spinach, kale, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, or carrot juice.
- Zinc – Zinc helps the body heal, boosts the immune system, and helps the body use proteins, fats, and carbs for fuel. It can improve recovery after long periods of stressful exercise. Zinc supplements can be tough on the stomach, so consider getting zinc from seafood, whole grain products, and wheat germ.
- Potassium – As you sweat while working out, the body not only loses water, salt, and electrolytes, it also loses potassium. Drinking a drink that provides sodium and electrolytes while working out can help, but it’s also important to replenish potassium after your workouts. Great food sources of potassium include bananas, tomato products, white beans, raisins, dates, and orange juice.
Great Post Workout Shakes to Try
Are you ready to start adding whey protein shakes to your post workout routine? If so, here are a couple great shake recipes that taste great while ensuring you get the whey protein you need for muscle gain and fat loss.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Protein Shake
Enjoy the delicious combination of chocolate and peanut butter while getting plenty of whey protein. You’ll also get protein and lactose from the addition of cottage cheese. The addition of ice can help you rehydrate.
What You’ll Need:
- 1 cup of water or unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter
- 1 scoop of chocolate whey protein powder
- 1 cup of ice
- ½ cup of 2% cottage cheese
Place all of the ingredients in your blender. Blend for 30 seconds on medium-high until you have a smooth shake.
Ginger Cookie Protein Shake
Enjoy the flavour of a ginger snap in a healthy protein shake that will help you fuel and repair your muscles after your workout.
What You’ll Need:
- 1 ½ scoops of vanilla whey protein powder
- 1 cup of skim milk
- 5 ice cubes
- 1 5oz cup of Greek yogurt
- ½ teaspoon of ginger
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- Dash of ground cloves
Place your ingredients in a blender. Blend on medium to medium high until the mixture is smooth.