We frequently get this question from clients looking to get the most out of their workouts, and moreover, their post workout. It is well known by now that the post workout meal is a bodybuilder’s most important meal of the day. There is an abundance of information on this value and purpose of this meal anywhere you look, from supplement labels, to bodybuilding blogs. But, the question remains, healthy foods delivered, or a protein shake?
After a quality weight training session you should have exhausted your body’s blood sugar levels as well as your muscle glycogen levels. This means your insulin sensitivity is peaked and your metabolism is primed to shuttle nutrients into your muscle cells to aid in rapid recovery and growth. Skipping this meal leads to a spike in cortisol, a catabolic hormone, which breaks down muscle and converts it to sugar, and stops fat loss in it’s tracks.
So how can we best take advantage of this window of opportunity? What is the ideal source of nutrition? Healthy foods delivered, or a protein shake?
If you ask a supplement company they will always support having a post workout protein shake. The argument there is that a shake is quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, going to work repairing muscle fibers. The problem with supplement shakes is that they lack in so many areas. They are excreted and wasted just as fast as they are absorbed. They often lack in calories, and always lack in quality carbohydrates. The fast absorption rate is great to get you by until you can ingest quality whole foods like chicken breast, yam, broccoli and brown rice. Having quality healthy food delivered means eating the right things and not being lured by the quick fix of a protein shake.
By ingesting quality real foods your body will still break down and absorb the nutrients at an accelerated rate due to the spike in insulin. After an intense weight training session your appetite should be roaring, and it’s quite common to be hungry again an hour after your post workout meal. This is an excellent indication that your food was digested and absorbed quickly and your body is getting the nutrients it needs. Eating healthy foods versus proteins shakes yields better results. The food is absorbed properly and at the correct rate, the feeling of satiety (fullness) relaxes you and shuts down cortisol production, and boosts testosterone production. The nutrients in a healthy meal range from natural (versus synthetic) vitamins and minerals, slow high quality carbohydrates, complete range of proteins, and best of all, an absorption process than can span 12 hours!
When it comes to your post workout meal, if given the choice between healthy foods delivered, or a protein shake, always opt for the whole food.