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As we move forward in the world of advanced sports supplements, we seem to have overlooked the basics in our pursuit of a physical improvement. The simplest way to look at the process of building a better body is to envision a pyramid. The most advanced sports supplements are at the top of the pyramid, providing the micronutrients that give your body the extra push it needs to improve. The problem is that most of us have forgotten to build the bottom of the pyramid, the foundation, and are left wondering why the latest sports supplements aren’t working for us. So what should the base consist of? Most importantly it should start with a balanced diet including enough protein, carbohydrates, and the right kinds of fats, allowing the body to rebuild itself.
In this article we are going to get back to the basics by looking at the most important time to provide the body with protein and carbohydrates. When we train intensely, we always break down the body in some way. When we train with weights, the reason that we grow is that the loads we have placed on the body are enough to damage muscle tissue. The body’s response is to increase the size of the muscle fibers to prevent the reoccurrence of this damage in the future. This is why training with the same physical load for a long time, be it weeks or months, will eventually lead to no further gains. The body will adapt itself to be able to handle that load by increasing muscle fiber size until no further damage occurs. So what does this have to do with protein, carbohydrates, and what time you take them? To understand this we need to know what happens in the body during physical stress.
When we train with weights there are three important changes that occur in the body. The first is a depletion of glycogen stores, which is the energy we get from carbohydrates. The second is a process of protein breakdown where the body will actually break down cells, muscle cells included, to obtain the protein required to repair the damage caused by training. The third change is a state of repair where the body uses protein to rebuild the damaged tissue. So when you finish training your body is running on empty for glycogen, breaking itself down in search of protein, and simultaneously trying to repair the damage you have caused. This is a state known as catabolism, where the body is breaking down more than it is rebuilding, and it can last for up to 24 hours! So how do we stop this catabolism, or at least minimize it? The best kept secret in training lies within the hour following your workout!
The body is desperately seeking both glycogen and protein following a workout in order to rebuild itself and replenish lost glycogen stores. The body improves its ability to rebuild and replenish by increasing insulin levels for about an hour following training in order to shuttle in extra glycogen and protein. To make best use of this post workout window the body needs an easily assimilated carbohydrate like fruit juice, which can be easily converted to glucose and quickly stored as glycogen. The body also needs a protein source that is easily assimilated and broken down. The best source of protein for this is whey protein, which mixed in a shake, is an easily digested source of liquid protein that your body can use to both stop protein breakdown and speed up rebuilding. By using a shake consisting of simple carbohydrates and quality whey protein following your workout, you can actually stop the process of catabolism almost immediately!
Note: Recovery is great in your shake.