Speed up recovery and promote muscle growth with these 4 ingredients that should be in anyone’s post-workout cocktail. If you followed my recent advice about pre-workout ingredients, I imagine you’re netting personal bests like they’re on clearance. Congrats! But there could be a downside: As your workout intensity continues to increase, you may feel more sore, tired, and beat-up as the weeks wear on.
High-intensity workouts produce huge amounts of microdamage in your muscles, which is actually one signal for your body to get bigger and stronger. The problem is, when putting this type of stress on your body, it first responds by increasing circulating cortisol and reactive oxidative species, causing more and more breakdown and potentially placing the body in the ever-feared „catabolic environment.“
This is the exact moment when the body responds best to post-workout nutrition—a time called „the anabolic window.“ It’s during this window that the proper nutritional actions can turn around the catabolic environment created by your training session and kick-start recovery for your next workout. But what are the best steps?
In general, the anabolic window is most sensitive to nutritional intervention within 30 minutes after your workout. Missing this window won’t totally kill your gains, as people may have once believed, but getting in nutrients shortly after you train certainly won’t hurt, and it can definitely help. However, 30 minutes after a lift is barely enough time to get home and shower, much less cook a meal. Because of this, it’s time for your next edge: post-workout recovery supplementation.
To make things easy, I’ve ranked the top three ingredients to help you recover from a tough workout. As with my pre-workout list, these ingredients may have multiple uses. While many ingredients may help with recovery when ingested at different times, this selection is strictly about ingredients that will help you the most immediately after training.
THIS SELECTION IS STRICTLY ABOUT INGREDIENTS THAT WILL HELP YOU THE MOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER TRAINING.
1ST PLACE: BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAAS)
Primary purpose: Promote an anabolic environment
Optimal dose: 5 g post-workout; 20 g daily
Benefits: BCAAs—leucine, isoleucine, and valine—are the basic building blocks of your muscle protein. Leucine has been shown to stimulate muscle synthesis. Hard training sessions result in monstrous damage to your muscles, thus destroying the proteins that make up your muscle fibers. Again, this is a good thing, because with damage comes growth. But if you can avoid mass amounts of protein breakdown, you have a higher starting point to bounce back from, which ultimately leads to a higher net amount of protein synthesis—in other words, more growth!
When compared to ingestion during exercise, it has been suggested that ingestion of BCAAs following a workout exhibited greater anabolic effects.1
Note: A 5-gram post-workout dose will complement the BCAAs in your pre-workout. The combination of before-and-after BCAAs has also been shown to have very nice synergistic effects.