Nutrition is very important in bodybuilding, and just about anyone who has spent more than five minutes learning about the many facets of the sport knows this. As you become more proficient in the topic of bodybuilding nutrition in particular, you realize that protein – particularly following a workout – is perhaps the most important nutrition challenge a bodybuilder faces. The muscles of the body are taxed greatly during a quality workout, and they need amino acids in a major way following a workout. Many bodybuilders know this, and try to answer the challenge by consuming a protein bar, whey protein shake, or other protein source following their workout. At this point, they’ve done their job and can rest easy that growth is coming, right? Not so fast…
Consuming protein following your workout is a smart move, but when one steps back and thinks about what the body has just gone through with the workout, another glaring need becomes obvious. While we train, our muscles are robbed of the amino acids and nitrogen in the muscle cells. This is something that needs to be replaced, obviously. However, the energy we use when training does not come from muscle cells or protein stores in our body. Rather, the energy to train comes from glycogen, or sugar that is in our body. These sugars come from the carbohydrates in the food we eat. When we have finished training, we have low glycogen levels, in addition to badly needing protein. We’re at a major disadvantage at this point, and we need both macronutrients.
So we know we need carbs – no problem. We can just toss in some pasta or rice, and we’ll be all set, right? Not so fast. There are two kinds of carbohydrate food sources – complex (slow) and simple (fast) carbs. The speed title whose category they fall into is based upon the rate at which they are absorbed into the bloodstream. Following a workout, your body needs fast carbs to help shuttle the protein to your deprived and hungry muscle cells as fast as possible. This is probably the only time of the day that your body will benefit from the consumption of simple carbohydrates more than slower-burning sources. Some bodybuilder favorites for a quick snack after a workout to help speed up protein absorption in their body include popsicles, candy, cough drops, and fruit such as bananas. Also, Powerade is very popular, and a better choice than Gatorade, as Powerade contains carbs which are absorbed faster into the bloodstream as fructose.
Our muscles are only as good as the nutrients we give them. Any bodybuilder who wants to reach his potential needs to give his body every possible needed nutrient following workouts to ensure they have all the materials in place required for growth. Simple carbohydrates are typically a “no-no” for bodybuilders looking to stay lean and keep their insulin levels in check. However, following a workout, simple sugar carbohydrate sources are just what the doctor ordered for quick delivery of vital proteins and amino acids to the muscle cells.
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