This is the final part of our three part series covering what to include in your peri-workout nutrition protocol.
So far we’ve covered what you should be eating and drinking before and during your workouts, so now we’re going to end with what is perhaps the simplest of the three: your post-workout meal.
The So-Called Anabolic Window
There is a long-standing myth in the bodybuilding community that you need to down a protein shake just moments after your workout (within 30 minutes is the most commonly heard claim) or you will somehow run the anabolic effects of the session.
A study published by the esteemed Dr. Brad Schoenfeld and Alan Aragon in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition or JISSN showed how this simply is not the case.
In other words – there is no such thing as the ‘anabolic window’.
It is also worth considering that you’ve been drinking your intra-workout drink while training, meaning that you still have plenty of amino acids in your bloodstream and your insulin levels are still stimulated.
Instead of fretting about how quickly you can drink your protein shake or eat your post-workout meal, remember that you don’t actually need a post-workout protein shake, and in fact you would be better off waiting for your hunger to come on naturally.
This should give you plenty of time to get home, take a shower, prepare your food, and then sit down to eat at a more leisurely pace.
So What Should My Post-Workout Meal Consist of?
As you’ll remember from part one of this series, there is a big emphasis on using foods that are easy to digest, so we don’t want to go stuffing our faces with huge amounts of greasy or fibrous foods at this stage.
The simplest example of an effective post-workout meal is white jasmine rice with chicken breast, and you might like to accompany that with a cup of green tea with a tablespoon of raw honey added to provide some additional fast-acting carbohydrates.
We’re not trying to create a massive insulin spike; rather, we want to replenish muscle glycogen levels without consuming a large amount of fat or fiber that will slow digestion and prevent our body from being able to absorb the nutrients so rapidly.
What’s more, have you ever tried eating a huge steak, sweet potatoes, and veggies after a nauseatingly grueling leg session? It ain’t pretty!
What About My Post-Post-Workout Meal?
A couple of hours after your first post-workout meal you can feel free to go back to your usual meal rotation, which will most typically be a balanced meal of protein and carbs with some veggies and perhaps a modest amount of fat.
Make sure that throughout the entire peri-workout period you stay adequately hydrated, and don’t be afraid to go a little overboard with the water intake because that will only help to increase the cell swelling we discussed in part two