When you’re trying to build muscle, you need to understand that the process involves two stages. First there is the catabolic stage. You want to encourage muscle protein breakdown with your workout, during which your exercises are used to break down muscle protein.
When you do a workout you basically tear your muscle fibers; the workout increases the rate of the muscle protein breakdown. The catabolic stage is when the rate of the protein breakdown is greater than the protein synthesis, which is when amino acids are used to make proteins to maintain or build muscle.
This is followed by the anabolic stage, which occurs when you rest and the muscle building begins. Your body uses the protein and amino acids to rebuild the muscle fibers that were torn.
It’s not enough that you have a nice balanced diet throughout the day and that you take the best pre workout supplement before you work out. For the best results, you’ll also need to use the best post workout supplement that you can find during the anabolic stage, in order to assist in maintaining or building bigger muscles.
What to Look For in the Best Post Workout Supplement
Identifying the best post workout supplement may be quite challenging, but here are some pointers you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Most post workout supplements contain protein, because you need it to build muscle. This just begs the question of how much protein is ideal. According to the latest research, the answer depends on your age. If you are relatively young, you need 20 grams of protein. Your needs increase as you grow older, and by age 70 you will need 40 grams.
- Amino acids will also be helpful in building muscles. It’s best that you consume amino acids all at once rather than spread out over an extended period of time. Research shows that more muscle protein synthesis results from drinking 20-40 grams in one go, compared to the result of taking small sips in a span of several hours.
- Many workout supplements also contain carbohydrates. This may or may not be a good thing, though. Carbs are also used as a fuel for protein synthesis. Supplements with carbs can also prevent proteolysis, which is the deterioration of protein. At the same time, you may want to hold off consuming carbs immediately right after a workout, especially if your workout goal is to burn fat and lose weight. Your body is still burning off fat, and you should encourage this process by tapering off your carbohydrate consumption. Once you take carbs, the free fatty acids being burned for energy are returned to your fat cells.
- Take note of the calories a supplement contains, as well as the flavor. Obviously, the ability to mix easily with liquid is important as well as the quality and the absence of chemicals and artificial sweeteners. Stevia is a good choice for a sugar-free sweetener.
Timing is important when taking post workout supplements. Obviously it should be taken after a workout and not before. But most research shows that protein and amino acids should be taken right after, instead of hours later or the next day – which is technically still “after” the workout.
According to some studies, the nutrient uptake is much greater when you take the supplements within a half of an hour after you work out, rather than after even a few hours have passed. So, when you finish your workout, reach for your favorite post workout supplement and reload the important nutrients that your muscles need right away. By taking it at this “window of opportunity”, you ensure that you obtain the maximum benefits from your post workout supplement.