Want to shake up your post-workout nutrition?


Protein Shakes for Natural Weight LossProtein shakes made their Oscar debut for post-workout nutrition a while ago.

Is there any truth to claim that protein shakes or sugars are best consumed after a workout for optimal weight and fat loss?

Since I am answering questions about natural weight loss and my clients are looking to lose weight without pills, crazy fad diets or surgery, I always keep it simple and straightforward for you.  So, here goes:

Sugars for an anabolic insulin response

Sugar is a double-edged sword due to the sugar/insulin connection. Bottom line: Timing is key.

When you exercise, your body uses energy.

Glycogen provides your cells with fuel. When your blood sugar is low (it’s been some time since you’ve eaten), your body reacts, as your body’s goal is to stay in homeostasis for optimum performance. Therefore, when your blood sugar drops, your body releases hormones such as Somatostatin, Glucagon, Epinephrine, Cortisol, ACTH, Growth Hormone, and Thyroxine to raise your blood sugar again. These biochemicals work to supply  your body with energy to keep you going during your workout.

When your blood sugar rises (say, you’ve just eaten a meal), insulin kicks in, helping to move glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Insulin also plays an important role in protein synthesis (helping to stop workout-associated muscle loss) and promoting recovery following your workout.

To generate lean muscle tissue, you need intense workouts. An intense workout breaks down  muscle fibers so that your body responds by building the muscles back up stronger. This is essential for continual growth and development of your body. What you want to avoid is breaking down muscle during a workout for your body to use as fuel.

Simple steps to fuel your post-workout success

The three pillars of nutrition for post-workout  weight loss are:

Fluids – replace your electrolytes. You sweat and you detoxify. This is great. But you also lose important electrolytes that need to be replaced  to get you ready for your next workout. Hydrate with water. For a better absorption, you can buy electrolyte-enhanced water such as “Smart Water” or just add a pinch of sea salt to your water.

Protein—feed your need. Provide your body material necessary to regenerate and repair the muscles that have sustained micro tears during your intense workout session.

This is protein and it comes in many forms.

Eggs have the highest protein utilization units. That means your body can utilize egg’s amino acids the most readily.

Coming in second is brown rice, followed by fish. Yes, it is true, whey protein, whole soybean and human milk have higher protein utilization units.

Nevertheless, there are downsides to these sources: whey protein is processed, soybeans have been shown to effect estrogen levels and human milk is best for babies.  Hence, your best bet is eggs as they are easy to prepare and carry with you.

Carbohydrates—meet your goals.

Simple carbohydrates taken in before, during and after your workout will stimulate the hormone insulin.

This hormone works to counteract the glycogen-decreasing hormones as mentioned above. In particular, insulin targets  Cortisol, which is a catabolic hormone that becomes elevated during your training session. Cortisol is a primary driver of muscle breakdown.

Your goal is to keep muscle growing and to burn fat by improving your post-workout insulin sensitivity.

Remember the double-edged sword? The timing is important to control your body’s insulin response.

If your goal is to gain more muscle tissue, eat starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, whole grain bread, quinoa, bananas, potatoes, beets, carrots, … you get the idea.

If your goal is to lose fat, eat fibrous carbohydrates such as blueberries, black berries, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, green pepper, yellow pepper, … again, you get the idea.


The final word on protein shakes


Keep it simple for natural weight loss. You don’t have to add on chemicals to make your body perform better. If you like a post-workout shake to manage your insulin level, make yourself a smoothie. Mix 2 parts nonfat plain yogurt (use soy or brown rice yogurt if you are lactose intolerant) to 1 part water/ice. Add fruits such as blueberries or bananas.

Keep in mind that you need to create calorie deficit during a weight loss and fat loss program. Hence, you need to look at the overall calories consumed during the day. That includes your post–workout shake.

Proper timing of sugar intake (not processed, but in the form of carbohydrates) will allow you to maximize the muscle-building upside while minimizing the waistline- expanding, health-deteriorating downside.

I’m determined for your success.

Stay focused.

Stefan Aschan




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