What’s the recommended time-frame to eat post workout?
Also if the goal is to increase strength and muscle mass how often if at all should you do a cardio session? Thanks:) -Samantha Mooney
Thanks for your questions Samantha. Lets start with the easy one, question two: “if the goal is to increase strength and muscle mass how often if at all should you do a cardio session?”
This was answered on a previous Q&A, click here to read the response. In summary, the answer is no. If your goal is to build strength and size, you do not need to do any cardio.
With that said, I will add one caveat. Energy systems work (eg. Lactic or Alactic), relevant to your training phase would be acceptable. However, this would not be ‘traditional cardio’ but training that would be complementary to building strength and muscle.
In other words, if you were training with me for strength or muscle mass and we needed you to get leaner, it would be some kind of of strongman circuit or circuit training of a particular body part. Again, it would either be alactic or lactic depending on if the goal was strength or hypertrophy.
Now back to your original question. “What’s the recommended time frame to eat post workout?”
Wow. Isn’t this a hot topic? Some people really wont like what I have to say…
If you look at the bodybuilding world, the answer to this question is clear. Protein (and carb) shake no more than 2.3 seconds after you finish your last rep or the whole workout is a complete waste of time.
However, long time followers of mine may remember the podcast I did with Dr. Art De Vany?
We spoke about a process that occurs in the cell after training called autophagy, the removal of damaged proteins and how eating too quickly can shut this off.
The conversation that we had was very much in line with the work of Mauro Di Pasquale, who I once heard joke that consuming high G.I carbs after a workout was like premature ejaculation.
If you are after studies for what I am about to say, read the work of Mauro Di Pasquale and Dr. Art De Vany. It’s all there and then some.
Now, it’s assumed from research that looks at glycogen uptake (note I didn’t say protein synthesis) that the ‘post workout window’ is the optimal time to take in your carbs, and we should consume them almost immediately after training. This may be true for some demographics, however I certainly do not find it to be true for all.
If you are trying to manage cortisol, then yes, consuming carbs and protein straight after training is very beneficial. This demographic is normally made up of male personal trainers. Other inclusions are people who eat well but don’t eat often, and those whose primary goal is to gain size and strength (notice that I didn’t say fat loss?)
And most definitely, in order to elicit a post workout shake they need to train hard. A yoga session does not warrant a post workout shake, nor does a body pump class.
Where post workout meal timing becomes grey for me is when the goal is fat loss and with people who have insulin management issues. As we know weight training can increase insulin sensitivity, particularly after training. What Mauro Di Pasquale and Dr. Art De Vany point out is that consuming carbohydrates straight after a workout halts the post workout sensitivity period (this is what was meant by premature ejaculation).
Let me break it down for you; for a fat loss client; you train to improve your insulin sensitivity. Once you’ve had your carbs post workout, you’re shutting down the window. For fat loss clients we want to keep that window open for as long as possible. The fallacy is that it closes if you don’t eat. That’s not entirely true. Post workout carbs are great for mitigating cortisol post workout, but not so great for helping someone increase his or her sensitivity to insulin over the long haul.
Another point not often discussed is that protein shakes can be converted into glucose via gluconeogenesis. What this means is that it has an effect on blood glucose levels, which in turn will spike insulin. Again, not a problem if you’re trying to help someone manage cortisol issues after training, but for fat loss… Well, personally, I’m not black and white about anything, but if it’s my fat loss client, there not having shakes.
The other thing that I can’t help but mention is the history of the post-workout shake. I was first made aware of it in my podcast with Randy Roach. If you haven’t listened to it, do yourself and favour and check it out. (It was the very first podcast I ever did!)
The Wrap Up
My suggestions are made to clients in context with so many other factors. To give specifics as to what you should do (or any one for that fact) without fully understanding all variables would be a disservice. The above factors are to consider. Having a post workout shake after training is not a biblical rule that one shall suffer in hell for eternity if one doesn’t follow.
Take it or leave it… You can always have a nice steak post-workout!
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