Is Post Workout Protein Overrated?

There’s nothing better than walking out of the gym feeling completely pumped with the day’s workout behind you.  I love the “parking lot walk” and it’s right when I start considering how I’m going to feed myself.

Time to eat lots of protein, right?

Chicken Breasts

Protein is of obvious importance.  It’s chocked full of amino acids, which are the building blocks of the proteins that translate into muscle for our bodies.  There’s simply no way to add muscle to your frame without proper amounts of protein.  But..  should it be the sole focus of your post workout nutrition?

Did you know that if you fail to take a fast absorbing carbohydrate with your protein, most of that protein source will get converted to glucose and and ultimately end up in your cells as glycogen?  Wasted are all those dollars spent on high-priced proteins if we fail to acknowledge the equally important carbohydrate part of the equation.

If you’re part of the “Lean Revolution” then it’s likely that you’re one who maintains a low-carb diet and it’s most important that low-carb dieters include these post-workout carbs.

When we resistance train (normally in the form of weight lifting) on a low-carb diet, we severely deplete our glycogen stores.  Losing your “pump” too quickly after a workout?  That’s a sure sign that you’re glycogen depleted.  In this state, your body has but one goal and that’s glycogen replacement.  While you want to add muscle and/or lose fat, your body could care less about your goals and only wants to replace glycogen to have energy on hand.

Avoid Protein Waste

Your post-workout nutrition should always and forevermore include a fast-digesting carb and protein.  When you ingest a carbohydrate with your protein, your insulin levels soar, the quick carbs are converted to glucose for energy and the protein gets used for it’s intended purpose.

Also important to understand is that the presence of insulin is necessary to unlock cells and allow protein in.  You absolutely want to “spike it” right after a hard workout, allowing the insulin to reach the cells and perform this function.

What’s the Best Way to Spike Insulin?

Simple CarbsSimple carbs are the best way to cause an insulin spike.  Complex carbs work adequately well.  Fibrous carbs (veggies), while an important part of your diet, do little for blood sugar level and are better suited for a window outside your post workout nutrition.

While plums and berries have a low-glycemic response, most tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapples and watermelons are high-glycemic, as are most melons.  The “date” actually tops the list of fruits for a high GI (Glycemic Index) response at an astounding 103!

Enjoy the insulin spike!

This is the one time of the day where you actually benefit from some simple sugars.  You’re supposed to eat them!  That’s pretty cool.

Throw back a couple pieces of dark chocolate and wash it down with a good swig of mile after your protein shake that is chocked full of yummy fruits.  Make it sweet and enjoy it guilt-free.

Conclusion

So how important is protein after a workout? Very! You can’t build muscle without it and you can’t even maintain muscle if your only goal is to lose fat (and not losing muscle should always be a priority).

But don’t forget that it’s only half the equation and the high-glycemic carbohydrate is the other half, which allows the protein to do its job and rebuild the muscle.

Start packing a banana with that post-workout protein shake.

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