Last Updated on April 10, 2013 by Jimson Lee
I’ll ask the question: What is the best Post Workout Drink for Nutrition and Recovery?
Specifically, what should the ratio of protein and carbohydrates be? Should you also add glutamine or BCAA? How about creatine?
Several theories exists, depending on your sport (speed/power or endurance sports), the number of workouts per day (two for swimmers, hockey players or distance runners) or frequency, intensity, and duration of workouts (i.e. the Tour de France)
But at a simplistic level, what are your goals? What is most important to you? Performance & recovery, weight loss, or muscle gain?
Tom Venuto talked about Post-Workout Recovery Drinks and Fat Loss in a previous article.
It is fair to say the most important element is hydration after a hard workout. Second, there are conflicting reports that protein and/or carbohydrates are the critical components after the workout. Thus, a post workout drink makes sense.
It should also be noted that for every gram of carbohydrates you store in your muscles require two grams of water. This is a good thing for endurance athletes, but may be a bad thing for sprinters.
I’ll be analyzing each argument in a separate post later. So here are your choices:
1) Don’t take supplements.
Jeremy Wariner claims he doesn’t take supplements and that everything you need is at the grocery store. There is some truth to that. Real wholesome food should always be the number one priority, followed by additional supplements should you need it. I would love to have a sushi bar next to the track or weight room after my workouts. Somehow I don’t think there is a great sushi or sashimi restaurant in Waco, TX. Correct me if I’m wrong.
2) Limit carbohydrates up to 2 hours after exercise
Phil Campbell, author of the book Ready, Set, Go! Synergy Fitness, recommended limiting carbs up to 2 hours after exercise so it does not inhibit the natural Human Growth Hormone (HGH) from being secreted from post-exercise activities. This advice is for those who want to benefit from natural HGH, and not fat loss or recovery.
3) 1:1 Carbs:Protein ratio as found in Proglycosyn
For me personally, my body needs carbs to fuel its muscles and protein to repair muscle tissue. Besides, Carbs triggers an insulin response to help in the uptake of amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
This was my personal favorite when I was training at the M40 Masters track category.
4) 2:1 Carbs:Protein ratio
John Berardi (photo, left) and many others suggests a 2:1 Carbs:Protein ratio after a workout.
He goes in detail about the different phases on nutrient timing. He recommends a 2:1 ratio for The Energy Phase (the workout) and The Anabolic Phases (up to 1-2 hours immediately after the workout). The Growth Phase, which he simplifies up to 6 hours after the workout, is where he recommends a ratio of 1:1
His advice is to consume a liquid recovery drink of 0.8g/kg of carbs and 0.4g/kg of protein immediately after training.
5) 4:1 Carbs:Protein ratio
Jacqueline Berning (photo, left) is a nutrition consultant for the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Indians as well as an associate professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs recommends a 4:1 Carbs:Protein ratio. I had a chance to listen to her speak at the 2007 USATF NPEP conference in Las Vegas.
It takes about 24-36 hours to replace glycogen in the muscles. By consuming carbohydrates 30 minutes immediately after exercise, you can “reload” your muscles in 12-16 hours. If you miss that 30 minute window, the replenishment time is lengthened. The Glycogen synthase enzyme that promote absorption in the muscles which are highest right after workout. Of course, Glycogen synthase is also indirectly triggered by insulin.
Thus, a carbohydrate snack consumed within minutes after the competition or practice will allow the body to start the recovery process faster.
It really comes down to your sport’s frequency, intensity, and duration of workouts, as whether you are focusing on performance & recovery, weight loss, or gaining muscle mass. Stay tuned for future articles and reviews.