Not sure if you need a post-work out shake to deliver the biggest spike to your blood sugar after weight training? Consider just how perfect dextrose is to your supplementing regime and you'll see the results from this supplement are staggering.
So Why Take A Shake?
When you're weight training to effectively build mass and put on lean muscle, you're constantly working your harder to increase both strength and size. That stress-threshold keeps the muscles you have under constant strain, instilling the understanding in your body that there is a need to increase that mass in order to perform properly.
Like any other trainer, you're working out to grow your body and your resistance training will help to create lean muscle mass. That increased mass leads to a well-defined physique but it goes beyond looks though. That muscle will protect your body and equates to a much faster metabolism. Unfortunately, every time you work out you will cause trauma to those muscle fibers on a cellular level so basically, you're damaging your muscles.
When you workout, a flood of lactic acid occurs and blood rushes through to carry it away resulting in that post-workout "pump". What does that lead to? Damaged muscles. Within days you're left with the remnants of your self-destruction in the form of stiff, sore muscles.
It doesn't exactly sound promising for the trainer; however one of the greatest discoveries in recent years is that the body you so readily abuse actually knows and understands that it's being abused. It primes itself to receive nutrients and is ready to start the repair process immediately post-workout. As such, studies have shown that this is the optimal time to consume a post-workout nutrient-rich shake as well as any supplements that could play a part in boosting that muscle recovery process. One such supplement is dextrose.
Is A Meal Better?
Absolutely. There are a lot of whole foods and protein rich meals that will fuel your body and supply your muscles with everything they need to bounce back but the problem is that while every trainer is unique, the body still functions the same way, including how it repairs itself. You're actually limited to about a 60 minute window post-workout in order to replenish your body of its energy stores and furnish it with quality sources of carbohydrates and protein in order to boost that repair and rebuilding process.
Since most athletes and weight-trainers spend their workout time at the gym, the window isn't big enough post-workout for you to rush home and prepare a full or even partial course meal that's going to deliver everything you need. You'll be pushing the edge of your window where the need is already greatly reduced and the engine is starting to wind down from its peak.
It's not even something you want to push. Consider the fact that you have to shower post-workout, change and drive home, prepare the meal and eat it—it's not likely that you'll make it.
Opt For The Post-Workout Shake
The post-workout shake serves a lot of purposes aside from the fact that you're getting nutrients almost instantly post-workout. The proper combination of protein and carbs (dextrose) will elevate your insulin to a point which triggers the body to start storing nutrients.
There are plenty of guys who swear against this tactic because they're worried about extra fat. The nutrient stores that come from a carb spike using dextrose in a post-workout shake would be a bad thing if your fat cells start throwing a party—you'd just grow a spare tire. But that's not the case when you're training and working out. Muscles take the front seat because they have a greater requirement for the nutrients and energy.
Some trainers even think that skipping the post-workout shake with dextrose is necessary because they want to burn fat faster. They feel that if they take in the fat from a shake it will be harder for them to burn it off. The opposite is true in fact. If you want to trim down your calorie intake, the worst place you can cut calories from your diet is right after the workout. It's during this time that your metabolism is screaming along like a Formula 1 Racer. Fat gain is the least likely thing to happen, so you shouldn't have any worries about combining dextrose with your post-workout shake.
The window of opportunity is small and you want those nutrients to get to your muscles fast.
A common question here is "Why the use of Dextrose?" Some are worried, as previously mentioned, about the calorie issue. The fact is that the body is going to destroy those calories to fuel the muscles post-workout. Dextrose is used because it has a high glycemic index. When you utilize dextrose in your post-workout shake you're going to get a heavy insulin spike.
That insulin spike is what you want because it creates a chemical stir in the brain. A trigger occurs that shifts the way the body processes the nutrients. Because your muscles take the frontline over fat stores due to their depleted energy stores, the nutrients you take in—including the carbs like Dextrose - head straight for the muscles to be used. This is essential to getting your muscles into a state where they start the healing process quickly.
Certain sugars (carbs) are used in your body to restore muscle glycogen and are better suited for that. Others are not. Dextrose is noted to be a perfect source for restoring those glycogen stores as it has the high glycemic index and it's quickly digested. Other carbs like apple juice, which contain mainly fructose, don't restore muscle glycogen. Instead it fills the liver glycogen stores, offering no benefit to your muscles at all.
The Perfect Mix
So you're set on the idea that a post-workout shake is necessary and you're probably going to start the routine next time you go to the gym. That's great, but it's not that simple unfortunately. One trip to Bodybuilding.com will reveal that not only are there literally thousands of options to choose from for post-workout shakes but there are a lot of different recipes and supplements that can be added. You need to figure out which shakes are right for you and the goals you're setting.
Many of the post-workout shakes will mix well with dextrose, so you won't have much to worry about in that regard. The important thing is measuring the right mix and compound to specifically match your weight class. Based on your own mass, you'll want to shift the supplements in your post-workout shake recipe so that you're taking in the right mix.
There are some that come pre-measured with supplements built in, like a giant bucket of powdered multivitamin. Those can save you time, but you'll gain the most benefit by mixing your own to ensure that the shake ingredients match your body needs.
An ideal post-workout shake is going to contain quality proteins such as branched-chain amino acids that will give some boost to your immune system. One of the most popular sources of that is whey protein. Because these protein complexes have their own higher glycemic index, they'll also help to stimulate the insulin surge in order to begin replacing fuel in the muscle cells.
This is the time when the sugars work best and where the dextrose comes into play. If you mix the right amount your body will drag that right into the muscle cells for nutrient stores. There's no chance of it being stored as fat and those healthy fats that you do take in from your shake will also provide additional fuel to aid in the rebuilding and recovery of your muscles.
Developing Your Post Workout Shake
Follow these steps to develop that perfect post-workout shake:
Identify The Protein Source
The protein you take in with your post-workout shake is going to be broken down extremely fast and used to repair the damaged muscle fibers, reinforcing them to improve your strength and durability. With most resistance trainers and body-builders, the goal is performance gains. Since you're shooting for the fastest absorption during that post-workout 1 hour window it's a good idea to opt for a whey protein. The protein I use is called Big Blend from Betancourt Nutrition.
Determine How Much Protein You Need
For the average person under 200 lbs performing a workout that consists of about 30 sets, you can expect to require about 30-40 grams of protein (approximately 2 scoops of whey protein). If you're a heavier trainer over 200 lbs that can be increased to approx 50 grams.
Get Your Carbs In
If you want the best results, you need a fast acting carbohydrate. Dextrose is naturally the best choice but it can be a little difficult to find in some areas. For this reason, you can opt for any simple glucose food product as a fill in. Keep in mind however that you need to avoid fructose. As mentioned earlier, that goes to your liver first as opposed to the muscles and does you no good. If you can't find dextrose locally, take the time to order it online—there really is no appropriate substitute to fill its shoes as a perfect match.
In order to effectively maximize the rebuilding and resynthesis of muscle glycogen in the post-workout window, you should add approximately 5 grams of carbs for every two full sets you perform in your workout. When you compare this to the other protein calc of 30 sets then you're taking in roughly 75 grams of dextrose in your post-workout shake.
If you're into pushing the envelope and you want to build a lot more muscle mass then you can increase the intake dextrose to encourage a lot more lean tissue development. Don't worry about heavy calorie counts in your shake. You're at an anabolic peak in your post-workout state and it's the perfect time to take in a big helping of the right calories—it's an extremely smart move.
If the facility you're in has the space for you to do so, immediately mix this post-workout shake together using the guidelines above as soon as your cool-down has finished. Don't skip the cool-down phase just to get the shake made and clear your window. You have plenty of time and that cool down-phase is just as important as your shake at that point in time.
Make sure you follow your post-workout shake up with a complete meal, even if it's a small one. You'll need additional carbs beyond the dextrose, something that is slower digesting. Include in that meal a very small amount of healthy fat and a solid source of protein (tuna is popular and a good choice).
Don't set this out of mind if your workout facility won't allow you to mix on site (some don't for health reasons or they simply don't have the space). If you can't mix there due to a lack of working counter space, then bring a shaker bottle containing all the necessary raw ingredients so that you can take in the post-workout shake quickly. It may sound like an exaggeration in a sense but the window is small and literally every minute is counting against you after your cool-down period.
The faster you initiate the process, the more time your muscles have to revitalize themselves before your next workout.
Lastly—Is It Safe?
One of the fears trainers have over using dextrose in a post-workout shake is the potential for unnecessary weight gain. That fear comes from having no real understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Because of the state of the system when you complete a workout, as long as you consume the right foods and take appropriate supplements you won't have to worry about your intake going to fat stores.
Some also worry about the insulin spikes and the long term effects they may have on the pancreas and the body's ability to regulate insulin. Without getting too technical on the actual function of the body, the insulin level rides low during periods of peak intensity. Once you complete a workout, your exhausted stores badly need that energy and your body knows it. The insulin spike is the appropriate trigger to let the brain know that energy has arrived and the brain knows exactly where to send it.
Unless you're trashing your body with additional junk food throughout the day and creating constant insulin spikes, then raising your insulin after a workout accompanied by a normal diet is not harmful to your body at all. It's a natural process.
With that said, consider this to be an optimal way to supplement your workout program. A post-workout shake with Dextrose can help you hit that goal of a targeted muscle density a lot faster and make your workout recovery that much more comfortable.
As always if you have any questions regarding this article or anything fitness please don't hesitate to send me an email with your questions: AlexBigStew@gmail.com