The Importance of PWO

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People often ask me what the most important meal of the day is.  Without hesitation, I answer with breakfast.  This is a no brainer here.  We must jump start our metabolism from a long night of sleep, and what better way to do that than with a nice healthy breakfast.

But I'm not here to talk about the importance of breakfast, rather, I am here to discuss the 2nd most important meal of the day, the post workout meal.

Why is the post workout meal so important you ask?  After a workout, your body needs to repair your muscles from the stress you just put upon them.  Following intense exercise, the body is in a catabolic state, meaning it’s breaking down muscle to fuel itself, trying to preserve its pre-workout state. It’s during this window of opportunity, which is only open for 30-60 minutes, that the body optimizes its ability to replenish lost energy stores, namely muscle and liver glycogen. During this “open window” of 30-60 minutes the body begins muscle protein synthesis for muscle tissue recovery and repair, replaces fluids lost through sweat, and adapts to the stress of the workout.

The amount and quality of the post-workout meal will play a direct role in the how well your recovery takes place. The harder and longer you’re active, the more important it is to refuel the body for the next workout. In order to get the most out of your post-activity meal, it should be made up of carbohydrates and proteins.

Getting enough carbs post-workout is crucial to restoring the glycogen levels within the muscles. Glycogen within the muscle and liver is one of the fuel sources used during exercise.

The best option for a quick absorbing carbohydrate would be dextrose.  Simply add dextrose to your post-workout protein shake and there you have it.  If dextrose is not an option, ingesting good quality carbohydrates such as bread, fresh fruit, cereal, and chocolate milk provide enough quality carbohydrates to begin refueling the muscles with lost glycogen.

The next macro-nutrient, protein, is an important part of the post-activity meal. Protein consumed within the “open window” of recovery should be about 20-30 grams. Protein is important because it provides amino acids, which are the building block for muscle, and ensures a positive protein balance, which means the protein synthesis exceeds protein breakdown. Because protein is broken down during activity, failure to consume protein can lead to muscle loss.

The best option for PWO protein would be whey protein.  You can buy this in powder form and like mentioned above, mix with your dextrose to complete your shake.  Liquid is absorbed much faster than whole food, which is why it is highly recommended for PWO.  If protein powder isn't an option, opt for eggs, meat, chicken, or fish mixed with a carbohydrate source mentioned above.

There you have it.  Protein shake mixture is option #1, and if not available, go with the whole food option.  If both are options, opt for the shake, then eat the whole food combo an hour later.  Your body is now set to replenish and rebuild from the workout!

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