Fueling Up to Maximize Muscle Growth and Recovery

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What and when you eat makes a big difference in the quality of your workout, recovery and muscle growth. For the best post workout recovery techniques this blog.

What should you eat before you workout?

Eat a carbohydrate-protein combo snack before exercise and you’ll provide fuel for a stronger workout. You can have a snack size portion of the easy to prepare carb-protein recovery meals listed below.

Adding a cup of caffeine doesn’t hurt either. Caffeine mobilizes fatty acids for use as fuel during your workout (and spares valuable glycogen) and it lessens the perception of how difficult the workout is.

What should you eat and drink during exercise?

During exercise the primary goal for nutrient intake is to replace fluid losses. For most exercisers that simply means drinking water during their workout. For those endurance athletes participating in difficult events lasting more than ninety minutes they need carbohydrates at 30-60 grams per hour for maintenance of blood glucose levels. Although in events 2.5+ hour higher intakes (up to 90 g/h) are associated with better performance.

Why should you eat right after you workout?

There is a 2 hour post-exercise window of opportunity to optimally replace muscle glycogen, provide amino acids to repair and build muscles and ensure rapid recovery. Eat a carb-protein combination meal or snack as soon as tolerable after you exercise for optimal recovery. Include 15–25 g of high quality protein within 2 hours. “To date, dairy proteins seem to be superior to other tested proteins, largely due to leucine content and the digestion and absorptive kinetics of branched-chain amino acids in fluid-based dairy foods.”62

Some easy to prepare carb-protein recovery meals include:

  • Cereal and fruit with yogurt or milk
  • Glass of nonfat chocolate milk
  • Apple and peanut butter
  • Fruit smoothie made with yogurt or milk and some protein powder
  • Turkey sandwich with a piece of fruit
  • Yogurt with berries and granola
  • Bean soup with whole grain crackers and low fat cheese
  • Oatmeal with milk, raisins, and slivered almonds
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich
  • Scrambled or poached eggs on wholegrain toast
  • Fresh fruit and wholegrain toast with baked beans
  • Whole grain hot or cold cereal, raisins and milk topped with seeds
  • Potato, chicken breast and salad
  • Chili

How much protein should you eat to build muscles?

The ACSM Position Stand on Nutrition for Athletes: newer recommendations now highlight that the muscle adaptation to training can be maximized by ingesting these targets as 0.3 g/kg body weight after key exercise sessions and every 3–5 hours over multiple meals.

.7 to 1.0 grams per pound total daily.

For those near their optimal body composition, don’t restrict calories while building muscles. With inadequate fuel, you’ll use protein for energy (calories), not for building muscles. That being said, for those who are not bodybuilders but who are working out to lose weight, your dietitian will help you calculate the correct amount of protein and caloric intake so that you will be able to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously.

A protein snack before bed can help overnight muscle protein synthesis by providing a flow of amino acids.

This essential amino acid is most well known as the amino acid needed to stimulate muscle growth. This is because it provides muscles with the nutrients and activates the growth pathways needed to synthesize. Specifically, its ability to stimulate skeletal muscle synthesis is ten times better than any of the other BCAAs.

High leucine foods include cheese, soybeans, beef, chicken, pork, nuts, seeds, fish, seafood, and beans. The recommended daily intake for leucine is 39mg per kilogram of body weight, or 17.7mg per pound.

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