Whether you’re new to the fitness world or a seasoned vet, one topic seems to come up over and over again: what’s the best supplement to take after I workout? There are multiple studies, theories, and myths out there that swear by one supplement and blacklist another. With all the hype and all the misleading information, how do you choose the best post workout supplement for you? First, you’ll need to break down just what it is you’re trying to accomplish with that supplement, and how you need it to work for you. A simple way to do so is to remember these keywords: replenish, repair, increase, and combine. Let’s start with replenish.
After your workout, your body has depleted a big store of its glycogen, which is a chain of molecules that gives your muscles energy. When this is depleted, your muscles can feel weak and you can suffer from a lack of muscle strength. In order to replenish those stores, you need to ingest supplements such as dextrose or karbolyn. These simple carbs are easily broken down and absorbed by your body and gives you a much desired insulin spike. This insulin spike secures blood flow to your muscles, bringing rich nutrients like glucose to them and ensuring muscle growth as well as replenishment. This also helps prime your body for your next high intensity workout.
Now, let’s talk about repair. Intense workouts can cause microtraumas (small tears) to the muscle tissues within your body. This is the cause of sore and inflamed muscles post workout, and can cause you to lose interest or even ability to continue to your training. But, when these small tears are repaired, you see a noticeable increase in muscle mass and muscle strength. Whey protein is the hands down post workout supplement when it comes to helping repair these tears. Whey protein breaks down and digests quickly, and contains an amino acid profile that’s high in branched-chain amino acids, or BCAA’s. This ensures that your muscles quickly receive what they need to repair the damage done to them, and decreases the time you’ll have to wait in order to see results. Glutamine is another supplement to consider, especially if your high intensity workouts are also long. Glutamine helps boost the immune system, and helps you ensure that you not only stay healthy, but that your immune system continues to work properly and efficiently.
What are you increasing? Muscle Protein Synthesis, or MPS. When MPS is increased within your body’s cells, muscle growth is triggered. The key to doing this is a protein called mammalian target of rapamycin, or mTOR. When leucine, insulin, and exercise activate this protein, it increases MPS in a way that ensures a rise in muscle mass.
As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, combining these steps and supplements can lead to big, positive results. When you mix a protein like whey protein with mTOR, you get an abundance of BCAA’s that not only repair muscle tears but also increase muscle growth. Add in supplements like dextrose or karbolyn and you engorge those impaired muscles and prepare them for your next training session. With the right mixture of supplements and nutrition, you can create the perfect combination for your post workout needs.