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The recovery and repair process after a workout is just as important as the workout itself. During your workout, you’ll create tiny tears in the muscles, and ultimately the goal is to have your muscles come back stronger and bigger as they heal. However, the only way that you’ll reap the benefits from your workout and build muscle is by providing your body the resources it needs to recover, and there’s no doubt that some options are significantly better than others post-workout… So I want to give you guys 10 of the best foods that you should have after a workout. And the first category that I’m going to list some options for is of course protein.
It’s essential to consume protein around your workouts because the amino acids found in protein are the building blocks to your muscles. In fact, building muscle is all about creating a “positive protein turnover rate.” This means that your body has to add more amino acids to a muscle than the amount that gets broken down regularly. Now, most of you have probably heard of the anabolic window, which is a myth, that suggests that you need to get your protein shake in as fast as possible after a workout. Even though it’s not true that you need to take in protein IMMEDIATELY after a workout a good guideline is to try to get at least a minimum of twenty grams of protein within an hour and a half of finishing your workout. Keep in mind If you happen to train in a fasted state as I do, it’s better to have that protein sooner rather than later because there will be fewer amino acids circulating through your body since you didn’t eat any protein before your workout. On the other hand, if you did eat and you had a lot of protein before your workout you can probably get away with extending that time-frame even past the 1 1/2 hour mark, but taking down protein within 1 1/2 hours after finishing your workout is generally a good guideline to aim for.
So the first and one of the best protein sources post-workout is whey protein. Whey is a fast-digesting protein source, which is especially beneficial if you train on an empty stomach. That’s because it’ll digest quickly and cause a rapid spike in amino acids that will quickly become available for your body to use for muscle repair and recovery. So as a result, whey protein will stimulate protein synthesis which is the build-up of new muscle fibers, and it’ll do it faster than slower-digesting protein sources like casein. (1) The best part about whey protein is that it’s one of the world’s best sources of leucine, which happens to be the most important amino acid for muscle growth. This is because leucine activates mTOR, which is the primary muscle-building pathway in the body. That’s why simply having a whey protein shake can be an excellent post-workout protein source, especially if you’re short on time.
Now even though casein isn’t the best protein source if you train fasted, it still has a similar nutrition profile to whey, however, casein does have other qualities that may make it an even better choice if you don’t train on an empty stomach. This is because whey is actually not as effective as casein at preventing muscle protein breakdown. (2) And remember to build muscle we want to do both reduce muscle protein breakdown and increase muscle protein synthesis. Casein may also be more beneficial for fat loss, due to the fact that it digests slower. This helps you feel full for longer. In a study (3) where they compared people that took either a casein supplement, a whey supplement, or a placebo after weight training the researchers found that Not only did the casein group experienced more than double the amount of muscle growth compared to the whey group, but they also lost twice the amount of fat. (4) So for all of you that have a pre-workout meal and don’t train fasted you may want to take a closer look at casein instead of whey post-workout.
Now since casein and whey are both good choices post-workout it should come as no surprise that milk is also a great option. This is because both casein and whey are derived from cows’ milk. And based on the available research, milk does seem to be an equally excellent option. For example, in a study published just a few years ago, researchers found that drinking whole milk stimulated muscle protein synthesis to a similar degree as whey protein. (7) Interestingly enough, research shows that whole milk stimulates muscle protein synthesis better than skim milk, even when whole milk contains less protein than skim milk. (8) So, if you want to boost muscle growth and recovery…