RULE #7: MIX UP YOUR PROTEIN BEFORE & AFTER WORKOUTS
Within 30 minutes before workouts, you need rapidly digesting protein such as whey. Research shows that quick digesting proteins like whey taken immediately before workouts maximize muscle protein synthesis. In addition, whey contains peptides (small protein fragments) that enhance blood flow to your muscles. This can increase delivery of nutrients and hormones to your muscles during workouts and enhance your muscle pump.
Also consider adding some soy to your pre-workout shake. Not only is soy protein isolate fast-digesting, but research shows that genistein, a soy phytoestrogen, increases nitric oxide levels. And since soy is very rich in arginine, it is a great way to further boost blood flow to your muscles during the workout.
After workouts, whey protein is king. Research shows that whey protein taken immediately after workouts rapidly ramps up muscle protein synthesis and, as a result, muscle growth. The spike it causes in insulin levels not only helps to further boost protein synthesis, but also blunts cortisol levels. This catabolic hormone competes with the anabolic hormone testosterone and increases muscle breakdown. Blunting it keeps you in a more anabolic state and promotes faster recovery from the workout and better muscle growth.
You should also consider mixing some casein protein into your post-workout whey shake. Although casein is as slow digesting as whey is fast, it also has been found to boost protein synthesis after workouts. In fact, researchers from Baylor University (Waco, Texas) found that trained lifters who, for 10 weeks, took a post-workout shake that combined whey and casein protein gained significantly more muscle mass than those who took a shake sans the casein.
RULE #8: SLOW DOWN YOUR CARBS BEFORE WORKOUTS AND SPEED THEM UP AFTER
As stated in rule 2, for most meals you should select slow-burning carbs. This also pertains to the pre-workout meal. Research shows that when athletes eat slower-digesting carbs, they not only have more energy and less fatigue during exercise, but they burn more fat during training and experience less hunger throughout the day. Within 30 minutes of your workouts, eat slow-burning carbs, such as a piece of fruit, wholegrain bread or oatmeal, along with your protein shake.
The meal you have immediately after your workout, on the other hand, should consist mainly of fast-digesting carbs such as waxy maize starch. This will spike levels of the anabolic hormone insulin, which drives the carbs you eat into muscle cells, where they’ll be stored as glycogen to be used for your next workout. Insulin helps amino acids get into the muscle cells to build muscle protein. It’s also critical to the delivery of creatine to the muscles (see rule 10) and increases muscle protein synthesis, one of the major processes by which muscle fibers grow.
Normally, you want to keep insulin levels in check for a variety of health reasons, but immediately following a hard training session is one time when an insulin spike is desirable.
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