They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And it is. But your post-workout meal is a close second. After a grueling workout, your body needs fuel fast to avoid succumbing to a catabolic state. When you’re exercising or when you haven’t eaten for an extended period of time, your body goes into a catabolic state. This means it begins to break down muscle – not exactly ideal when you’re trying to build that hard-earned definition. Instead, you want to keep your body in an anabolic state, or in “repair mode.”
To properly refuel and jump-start the repair process, eat within 30 minutes of exercising. It’s a small window of opportunity that can make a big difference if you consistently miss it. Unfortunately, the tight time frame can make it a challenge to prepare a complete and healthy meal. No problem. A liquid recovery, like a protein shake, may actually nourish you better. Because solid foods take longer to digest and break down, nutrients aren’t absorbed right away. By drinking a protein powder blend, however, your body will quickly and easily absorb the nutrients it needs after a hard gym session.
But not all protein powders are created equal. Here are three things to keep in mind when mixing up your liquid recovery shake:
1. Choose hydrolyzed whey. It is the fastest-absorbing protein powder, so you’ll have no problems meeting the 30-minute mark.
2. Add fruit. Fruit is considered a simple carbohydrate, which means it will spike insulin and help shuttle the protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals to your muscles. Plus, fruit is a natural way to sweeten your shake without the added fat and calories of table sugar.
3. Mix in aminos. Amino acids, such as glutamine, are the building blocks of protein and help perform many functions in the body, including muscle growth and repair.
Get fitness and sports nutrition tips from personal trainer Deniz Duygulu, an International Federation of BodyBuilders Men’s Physique pro athlete. Like Deniz on Facebook to watch videos demonstrating correct form and for advice on fueling effectively.