You need a little soreness—it means you’re adapting, getting stronger. But too much means you’re risking injury or overtraining. Here’s why…
As CrossFitters we understand the meaning of real muscle soreness. The kind of soreness that makes you hobble out of bed in the morning and clutch at handrails when walking down stairs. It seems as though it is almost a rite of passage in this sport.
But have you ever stopped to think about why you are getting sore?
Why do some workouts cause severe muscle soreness and others not?
What could one do to prevent or reduce it? If these thoughts have crossed your mind at some point, read on.
What actually happens to your muscles after lifting weights?
Before a muscle can grow stronger it must go through microscopic damage from difficult workouts or resistance training. The process of healing the muscle can last a week or longer, depending on a few things which we’ll cover.
Firstly, during an intense lifting workout there are small microscopic tears that happen in the muscle fibers and connective tissue. These tears fatigue the muscles which is the feeling you get when struggling on that last rep.
The soreness you feel 24-72 hours after a workout is the breaking down of the muscle tissue. This is known as DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness. This happens in most athletes but with proper rest and sufficient nutrients the muscle fibers can be rebuilt over the next few days, however full repair can last up almost up to a week.
To help improve the recovery process and speed up the growth, it’s essential to eat some carbohydrates, protein and some fat immediately after a workout.
The ability of the body to rebuild its muscles also increases size, strength and muscle capacity (Hint: This is where your GAINS comes from!) Ordinarily old tissue is discarded before new tissue is synthesized. The digestion of protein provides the raw material that can be used to synthesize new muscle.
Here is a simple diagram of when Muscle Hypertrophy occurs
Repair and rebuilding occurs through the breakdown of old damaged protein (Muscle breakdown) and the construction of new ones (Muscle synthesis) – a process called Protein turnover.
The relationship between these two parameters (the rate of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown) represents the metabolic basis for muscle growth aka GAINS!
Muscle hypertrophy (your muscle gains) occurs when a positive protein balance can be established during recovery — in other words, we need to make sure we have enough raw materials available for protein synthesis to occur, so that it doesn’t lag behind protein breakdown.
Thus, during the post workout period, we require protein and carbohydrates.
The raw materials we give our body through the consumption of food/supplements in the workout and post-workout periods are critical to creating the metabolic environment we desire.
One of the fastest and efficient ways to help speed up the recovery process is to drink protein shakes after a workout.
The body absorbs protein in liquid form much faster than if it were to come from a solid meal.
While studies have shown the muscle protein synthesis can last up to 48 hours there is a ‘Window of opportunity’ where it is best to take protein within 1 hour after a workout. If you feed your body the right nutrients while the window is open, you will reap the benefits. If you miss this window then you decrease the protein synthesis process.
Generally post-workout nutrition has 3 specific purposes
- Replenish glycogen (replenish energy stores)
- Decrease protein breakdown (increase muscle size & quality)
- Increase protein synthesis (repair damage to muscles caused by the WOD)
So you see, if you are not taking post-workout recovery seriously then you are not maximizing your time spent in the gym. And as CrossFitters we are all about efficiency right?
Here are just some more of the benefits of taking protein shakes after a workout
- Improved recovery
- Less muscle soreness
- Increased ability to build muscle
- Improved immune function
- Improved bone mass
- Improved ability to utilize body fat
Now while all of this scientific information may overwhelm you, you now understand why it is so important for your fitness goals to be taking care of your post-workout nutrition.
And to help you here are three things to consider when deciding on your post-workout nutrition:
1. How To Decide Which Protein To Take
First, there are several different types of protein powder – whey, milk, vegetable and egg white protein. Second, there are key ingredients that you should look for when picking out a protein powder.
Whey protein powder is a very popular type, tastes great and is economically efficient. It is derived from milk and is a good supplement for your immune system.
There are two types of Whey protein powder, whey concentrate and whey isolate. Whey concentrate is a better option for individuals that need a lower lactose dosage. Whey isolate has a lower fat percentage than that of whey concentrate and has a low lactose level as well.
Another type of protein we recommend is vegetable protein.
Down below you will see a product from Nuzest called CLEAN LEAN PROTEIN.
WHAT IS CLEAN LEAN PROTEIN? CLP is a 100% vegetable protein isolate that’s big on benefits and offers an alternative to dairy, soy and whey-based products. Sourced from European Golden Peas, Clean Lean Protein has up to 90% protein content, is low in fat and easy to digest, so you can enjoy it daily. Super-charged with all the essential amino acids your body needs and a pH of 7.8 (alkaline), Clean Lean Protein is the ultimate supplement for those who lead healthy lifestyles and want an alternative to dairy or soy products.
Generally, for a beginner we recommend a starting with a simple whey protein with low carbohydrates or a vegetable protein. We have 3 great options available that we highly recommend at an awesome price in our office or you can visit our online shop here or you can click on any of these brands below to order now.
2. How To Calculate How Much Protein You Need
Most protein powders that you buy tell you on the back instructions how much to consume and when to consume it, so make sure you read the back of the packet. But generally 1-2 scoops mixed with either low-fat milk or water is sufficient enough after a workout.
There are advanced protein calculators out there that can help tell you specifically what your daily protein intake should be, but this depends on your goals whether its to lost weight or to gain muscle.
3. When Is The Best Time To Take Protein ?
The best time to consume a protein shake is immediately after you make your sweat angel on the floor LOL… But the general rule is within an hour after your workout. This is so you can get the most benefit out of your workout and your muscle fibers can begin the rebuilding phase quickly.
It’s all about increasing the protein synthesis phase so that you are in muscle hypertrophy. That’s why protein shakes are much more preferred over solid foods as they can get into the bloodstream faster to help prepare you to hit the next WOD hard!
Click the brand below to order your protein now
We highly recommend these brands of protein to help you in your training. Click the links below to order yours now and make maximize your training!
Final note: As always, if you have any concerns about allergies or anything other concerns about taking supplements like the ones we have listed here please consult with your doctor or GP first.
Further reading related to this post:
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