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Refueling your muscles after an intense workout is important. In fact, it’s vital to your determination to master your body’s natural desire to slow down and take it easy after the hard work is done. Professional bodybuilders and athletes know that aches and pains and muscle spasms are the price to be paid for peak maximum performance; and it doesn’t come simply by wishing for it.

Nutrition is key to your post workout recovery. Researchers have been delving into this problem for many years, and although final conclusions are still not set in stone, there is mounting evidence that protein intake is an essential part of it. And not just the ingesting of protein, but the speed at which the body assimilates protein. When your muscles are crying out for protein to convert into glycogens, waiting several hours for that steak you just snarfed down to reach your muscles as protein is not the best solution. So how can protein get to your muscular infrastructure the quickest?

First, let it be said that you don’t stop eating well — that a diet rich in organic meats, whole grain carbs, organic legumes, and deep green veggies such as kale and spinach, is not essential to your continued success; it IS essential, but it should be supplemented.

Supplements that immediately go to work to increase protein levels, and thus raise insulin levels as well (which are essential in muscle tone recovery) should be consumed immediately after a workout, with continuing doses for the next six hours when possible.

Endurance athletes need at least 1.5 ounces of protein right after a workout, depending on body weight. Those who weigh in over 200 pounds should increase that intake to at least 2 ounces. It’s important to also realize that female endurance athletes absorb protein faster than male athletes, due to the different set of hormones their body naturally produces. But in either case, quick protein conversion in the muscles is necessary to prevent micro-tears in the muscles and ligaments.

Poor dietary planning frustrates fitness goals for many endurance and strength athletes. As stated earlier, a good protein powder supplement, taken immediately after a workout, will reach the muscles in a matter of minutes rather than hours.

But that’s not all there is to it. Both vitamins C and D act as transmitters in the body, shuttling the needed protein to all of the body on a molecular level. Low levels of these vitamins will frustrate the transportation of protein to where it is most needed after a workout. This means that vitamin tablets or vitamin supplements should be included in every athlete’s diet.

The body tolerates liquids much better than solids after a workout. So if you plan on getting some carbs and protein from your food, you should have a light meal before your workout, and then immediately afterwards start drinking a liquid nutritional supplement for maximum effect.

Research now vindicates what most strength and endurance trainers have advised for years: Eat several light meals each day, instead of gorging on a huge plate of carbs and proteins at one sitting. Too much content in the stomach diverts the blood to the gastrointestinal region, causing drowsiness and disorientation. It also slows down the travel of protein to muscles, thus slowing their absorption. Athletes who still feel hungry after a quick browse should increase their consumption of liquid protein and amino acids to combat those cravings for more solid food.In sum, to quickly recover after a workout you should eat a light meal just before exercising and then start drinking a liquid nutritional supplement as soon as you finish your workout.

Adam Legas

Adam Legas

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