The fear of the "catabolic devil" is a well-known topic in the fitness industry. The muscle breakdown shortly after training and the immediate supply of important nutrients are the subject of much discussion.
When is the ideal time for a post-workout meal? What should the post-workout meal be, and is it even necessary? This article explains in detail the basic questions regarding the timing, composition, and benefits of the meal.
- The ideal composition of the post-workout meal
- Build muscle and recharge energy
- The right time window for nutrition after strength training
The post-workout meal
You spend a lot of energy during a workout. Therefore, nutrition after strength training plays an important role in certain situations to quickly replenish empty energy stores.
The macronutrients carbohydrates and protein are particularly important for this. They not only generate new strength for your next workout but also promote muscle building.
The right timing
The necessity of a post-workout meal is greater the longer it's been since your last meal. If you ate a substantial meal within five hours before your workout, it's less important to eat carbohydrates and protein quickly.
However, if you are training in the morning and on an empty stomach, a post-workout meal is very important, as no nutrients have been supplied for a very long time.
The longer it's been since your last meal, the bigger the importance of timing. Nevertheless, know that protein, in particular, can be consumed every three to four hours so as not to let protein biosynthesis collapse too much.
The composition of a post-workout meal
After training, you should rely on fast-digesting carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen stored in your muscles. Fruit is particularly good here.
The carbohydrates digested are stored in broken-down form as glucose molecules in the glycogen stores. They serve the body as a primary source of energy. Glucose molecules help the body use sufficient adenosine triphosphate (ATP) during aerobic and anaerobic exertion.
A post-workout meal should include fast proteins as well as simple carbohydrates, especially if protein intake was a few hours ago—consumption is necessary to ensure protein biosynthesis.
Here's how you can prepare a blended post-workout shake:
- 1 banana
- 30 g Whey Isolate
- 500 ml water
The ingredients add up to about 213 kcal from 29 g of carbohydrates and 26 g of protein.
The catabolic state and its relevance to the post-workout meal
Many strength training athletes fear the catabolic state, also known as the "catabolic devil". It describes the withdrawal of protein from the muscles. This effect occurs when the body needs energy quickly, so the glycogen or ATP stores are emptied.
This must be avoided because it initiates the breakdown of muscle mass. However, you don't have to be afraid. A balanced and healthy diet after training counteracts the catabolic state.
You don't need to quickly gobble down your post-workout meal immediately after strength training. The two hours after working out will be the best time to fill your glycogen stores with carbohydrates and to eat enough high-quality protein for protein biosynthesis.
The perfect post-workout diet is not nearly as complicated as it is often made out to be. You should eat simple carbohydrates and protein after training. However, the timing will always depend on when you last ate.
If you ate a serving of chicken and rice or consumed a quick serving of fruit and a protein shake three hours before your workout, you don't have much to worry about.
Then, having your post-workout meal two or three hours after the gym will be fine.
However, an early post-workout meal would be best if you train in the morning on an empty stomach. You will not only avoid a prolonged catabolic state but also promote muscle growth. So, you don't have to be afraid of losing your gains anymore.