After a workout, the human body undergoes a lot of chemical and physiological changes, hence having the right nutrition after exercise is important. Post-workout nutrition can vary depending on the following factors (a) whether you are a recreational or professional athlete (b) Whether you are a strength or endurance athlete (c) match time e.g. a field hockey player can have back to back matches scheduled during a week.
What is the Post Workout period?The post-workout period is generally referred to like 60 minutes after a workout session has ended. This can be split into timing windows (a) the first 30 minutes called the Early Window (b) the next 30 minutes called the Late Window.
In the first 30 minutes, the blood sugar is low, and the release of the Growth Hormone is high. This period is called the “Anabolic Window” as the body begins to move into an anabolic state from a catabolic state and is primed to receive amino acids, glucose to rebuild muscles and restore glycogen respectively. If you are a strength athlete and looking to build muscle, then having protein within the 30 minutes is highly beneficial. If you are looking to reduce weight, then waiting for the 30 minutes to complete is useful as this accomplishes the body to complete the fat burning cycle.
The late window or the next 30 minutes starts to occur when the blood sugar level starts to rise due to the release of regulatory hormones like Growth hormone, cortisol, epinephrine, glucagon, norepinephrine. They are released to increase the blood sugar level due to low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.
What should an athlete have in the Post Workout Period?During the Post-workout Period, an athlete should consume:
- Proteins. Athletes should consume 0.5 g /kg of body weight but should not exceed 40 g of protein at a time. Example: if you are 70 kg, then you should consume 35 g of protein post-workout. Proteins can be consumed in the form of powder liquid or in solid-food form like chicken, fish, cheese, etc. Consuming protein helps in muscle synthesis, recovery and improving body metabolism.
Whey Protein is called fast protein as it is digested quickly and leaves the stomach much faster than casein or soy. This leads to increases the number of amino acids available hence improving muscle recovery times.
Whey proteins come in four categories:
(a) Isolate (Protein content % >90%)
(b) Concentrate (Protein content % varies from 35%- 90%)
(c) Hydrolysate (A predigested form with protein content % > 80%)
(d) Blend (A combination of two forms of whey)
- Carbohydrates. Athletes can consume carbohydrates with a high Glycemic Index (GI). Fruits like banana, watermelon are excellent choices.
- Electrolyte replenishment. Sweating during exercise can lead to electrolyte losses. Eating foods rich in potassium like Banana, raisins, can help restore potassium levels and prevent muscle cramps.