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The Importance of Recovery 

We often see guys in the gym blasting away at the weights doing endless reps and sets with plenty of accompanying grunts and screams. Hours upon hours spent in the gym chasing that illustrious dream…more muscle. But why so often do they never seem to change? Well there could be many reasons, but I’m pretty sure the majority will fall into one of the areas mentioned below:

  • Over training
  • Undereating
  • Poor supplementation 
  • Not training hard enough
  • No recovery structure

Sure, there is also the easy excuse of bad genetics. However, this is not a good enough excuse. Sure, genetics play a part. If you want to be a world champion, obviously you need the genetics to start with, but we are simply looking at muscle gain so you can throw that excuse away from here on.  

Here are some simple guidelines you need to implement in order to gain muscle:  

  • Aim for 8-10 hours of sleep per 24 hours (napping is a great way to add muscle)
  • 4 resistance sessions per week (maximum) 
  • Follow a solid hypertrophy program 
  • Consume at least 500 kcal a day more than your RMR
  • Aim to consume at least 50% of calories from Carb sources
  • Consume 1.4g of protein per lb of body weight 
  • Consume 0.5g of fat per lb of body weight 
  • Aim to consume 1.5g – 2.5g of carb per lb of body weight (depending on body type)
  • Consume a meal every 2-3 hours
  • ALWAYS take in high GI carbs and Protein post workout

We are going to focus on the post workout shake for a moment, as this still seems to be one area that many people get confused about and are missing out on easy gains. When you finish a workout, the body should be depleted of glycogen. This depletion is great! It means you have really trained to your max in the gym and depleted the muscles of all their energy source. However, what is not so great is the fact that you have also left yourself open to being catabolic. A state where your body will create a hormone called cortisol which is a hormone that will allow the breakdown of muscle protein for energy.

So as you can see from above, the importance of getting carbohydrates and protein in and fast, is essential. For this reason, we want to fire in fast acting carbs straight away in a liquid form. By fast acting, we mean a carb source which is high on the GI table. Dextrose is an incredible form of carbohydrates to be consumed post workout. With it having such a high reading on the GI scale, it will release insulin, which at any other time during the day would be seen as bad, however, NOT here. We actually want the release of insulin post workout to give us that spike and to help shuttle the carbs and protein into the muscle cells at optimal speed.

Dextrose is a fast acting, simple carbohydrate source. This is a source of carbohydrate that you only want to consume post workout, alongside protein and all the other vital nutrients essential for recovery.  

Post workout, it is essential that the body consumes and utilises the nutrients given to start the recovery. There is a process that must take place once the food comes into the body. The food is broken down into units and these units are transported through the blood stream into the muscle cells. The speed in which these units are delivered, depends upon the amount of insulin in which the body creates. Insulin is a hormone which is created when carbohydrates are consumed and depending on the amount and GI level of the carb source, will ultimately determine how fast nutrients are shuttled to the muscle cells.  

Insulin is a transport system for all the nutrients, which is why consuming high GI carbs (such as dextrose) post workout for recovery is essential. Imagine insulin as a bus and the nutrients as the construction workers, with your muscles being the construction site. As dextrose is very high GI, it massively spikes insulin and this spike raises your blood sugar levels. The more insulin, the more buses; the more buses, the greater amount of workers (nutrients) you can get to site (muscles).  

The priority of a post workout shake is to get the nutrients into the muscle cells as fast as possible for many reasons:

  • Provide instant energy 
  • Start the recovery process
  • Halt the body from going catabolic 

WARNING: more is not always better! Especially in this case. The idea of a recovery shake is just that-to recover. The body is already damaged and in need of repair, which is why the amount of nutrients you deliver through a post workout drink is essential. You need to deliver enough to repair the system and refuel the lost levels of glycogen in the muscles, but not too much that the body shuts down and has to deal with breaking down excessive calories ingested by error. There is a reason you have a recommended amount. The body has a cut off point.  

Ideal amount to consume post workout will depend on individuals and their personal levels. 
As a general rule of thumb, look at these numbers:

  • 20-40g Protein
  • 40-80g Carb 
  • Use a 2:1 ratio (carb:pro) 

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