The evidence might be opposite in another two years BUT what I am about to tell you will blow the most common post workout nutrition theory – that drinking your post workout shake (full of carbohydrates and nutrition) immediately after training is the best way to recover. Let’s talk about post workout nutrition.
*The following will not work for everyone and won’t work for multiple sessions in a day BUT it is just a review of the science and a logical way to look at the facts.
The post workout window. There may be such a thing. This is supposedly when the body is more insulin sensitive. This window allows you to eat more carbohydrate and protein and in response insulin will help shuttle all these awesome nutrients back into your muscles to aid in recovery.
I am going to ask you a question. If you had the choice between taking a protein supplement or testosterone/growth hormone supplement, which would you take? If there was no testing, no consequences and all were equally as safe as each other which would you take? I know nearly all of you would say testosterone and growth hormone. Why else would these be illegal to take?
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, done lots of reading and even pulled out some human physiology notes from my Masters degree and do you know what, the supplement industry is lying to you. Well not lying because what they are saying is true. There is a post exercise window where the body will suck up all this great stuff you give it but at what cost?
It is basic human physiology knowledge that insulin and human growth hormone are agonists. What does that mean? This means they work against each other, they don’t work together. Exercise as you know raises and secretes human growth hormone. The best stuff for this is heavy lifting and intense sprints. We also know that eating carbohydrate and protein post workout secretes insulin. What does secreting insulin do to the growth hormone running through our veins? It shuts it down.
THAT IS RIGHT your post workout supplement shake is shutting down all the hard work you did trying to produce a good hormone profile. When insulin rises in the blood stream growth hormone is stunted. The theory behind the post workout window is to allow your muscles to recover however I would not swap any amount of protein shake for a huge pulse of growth hormone. Growth hormone is going to allow your muscles to recovery better than any shake.
There is a huge correlation between insulin and testosterone. Physiology proves if there is a high insulin level in the blood there is also a low testosterone level. Testosterone is arguably the most potent anabolic hormone. Why would you want to shut it down? Do you love your choc peanut butter shake that much?
When you exercise at any level (more so at an intense pace) your muscles use glycogen. Glycogen is broken down carbohydrate stored in the muscles and liver. The post workout window aims to restock the muscles with glycogen quickly. However, even if you had NO carbohydrate for several hours after working out your body will still replenish those stores. In the meantime your body will become better at burning fat. There is an ever growing abundance of literature stating that having a higher fat, moderate protein post workout MEAL (not shake or drink) will blunt insulin being secreted at the same levels, keeping our blood sugar lower and stable, and allowing our natural testosterone and growth hormone to flow through our veins for a few hours rather than being tuned off instantly.
In an ideal situation you would train fasted in the AM whilst natural testosterone is high. Train quickly and intensely. This will raise your testosterone levels higher still and resecrete growth hormone that may have been slowed down due to a higher cortisol concentration in the blood that woke you up. This makes you a full blown anabolic machine with high human growth hormone and high testosterone levels. You need to keep these levels there for as long as possible to help you recover. There is no need to chug down a shake or post workout meal in the magical 20min window, instead look at having some food 60-90mins after training that is high fat and moderate protein (that will not shut down your gains).
In a CrossFit or race day setting that has multiple events this is the only place where you want carbohydrate after you compete to allow a QUICK turn in glycogen stores before the next event. There is a difference between training and competition.