In our previous articles on pre- and intra-workout supplements, we discussed how certain supplements can help athletes in each phase. In different phases of the training session the requirements are different and therefore a properly designed supplementary plan can support optimal target achievement. In this article we will talk about supplements after training or during the recovery phase.
While supplements prior to and during training focus on maximizing exercise performance to reduce fatigue during exercise, post-workout supplements are designed to promote faster recovery.
Unlike the first two training phases, effectiveness of the post workout supplements is less complex. Empirical research has shown that protein and carbohydrate supplements in the post-workout phase is essential for an optimal effect. As a rule of thumb, 0.3 to 0.5 gm of protein and 0.3 of 1.5 gm of carbohydrates are required per kg of body weight. within the first two hours after the training session. These supplements can be taken through diet or dietary supplements.
Carbohydrates: They are supplied to the body for three reasons:
- Energy supplier: maximizing and maintaining blood glucose
- Replenishment of glycogen stores in muscles and liver
- Increase the insulin level, which should slow down muscle loss
The importance of restoring carbohydrate levels after exercise depends on the intensity of exercise. For strength athletes whose strength training is usually not very glycogen consuming, the replenishment of glycogen storage is a secondary issue. Whereas the glycogen balance is much more in the focus for the endurance athletes. For the intake of carbohydrates, there are basically no special supplements. The fastest possible intake is achieved with a mixture of glucose and fructose in the ratio of 1:1 to 1:2 (table sugar consists of 50% glucose and 50% fructose).
Proteins: They are particularly relevant to strength athletes, as they are the building blocks for the formation of new muscle mass. Therefore, post-workout protein intake is essential for this group of athletes.
Proteins consist of amino acid complexes. Empirically, some amino acids have a particularly strong effect on protein synthesis, especially the so-called essential amino acids (EAAs). The branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) as a subcategory of the EAAs have a particularly strong effect. They are found in various foods such as meat (15% BCAAs) but can also be supplied via supplements.
The most popular post-workout product is the whey protein shake. It usually contains 25% BCAAs and is therefore ideal for supporting muscle regeneration. Another advantage of milk protein (whey) over other protein powders is the faster uptake into the body.
Whey protein powders, however, can be useful in different situations. For example, if the athlete has problems assimilating sufficient protein to his body in other ways. Also, the rapid absorption and digestibility call for the intake of protein shakes after training.