I have put a lot of time into my research, and have designed a recovery process which allows me to complete the last rep of my workout, and immediately begin introducing a large amount of nutrients into my body. It is understood that the first thirty minutes after a workout is your "golden opportunity" to increase your nutrient intake. It is during this half hour that your muscles have the highest craving for these muscle building nutrients, and the more quality whole foods you eat, the better off you are.
One of the more important things that I learned while doing my research, is that you should consume up to sixty percent of your daily protein intake after a workout. This simple rule ensures your body has lots of extra protein to play around with and rebuild muscle fiber. I also consume a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein after a workout. This ensures your body uses the carbs as an energy source to fuel the muscle building process, and uses the protein as the building blocks of the new muscle fiber.
Rest. The thing I do best after an intense workout. The more you sit back and relax after a workout, the less nutrients are burned from walking around, or what ever you might be doing. It is always a good idea to sit down and chill for a few hours to let your muscles get a head start on recovering. I contribute a large percentage of my bodybuilding success to an effective recovery process. You simply will not grow if you don't place a bold emphasis on recovery, I can't stress this point any further.
I will run you through an example of my post exercise recovery process. Although this has worked well for me, you may need to tailor it to suit your body's response. The main outline has proven to be effective though.
Pre-Workout: It is the pre workout time period that will determine if you have a good workout or not. You must be fully rested and have a good healthy meal approximately an hour before the fun begins. I usually take a an energy pill and creatine product thirty minutes prior to exercise. This gives the supplements enough time to come into effect, but not too long so they lose their effectiveness during a workout.
1 pm: This is the point in the day where the fun really begins. I usually start the war with the weights at around 1 pm. During a workout session, I usually try to drink about 16 ounces of water for every 20 minutes I'm in the gym. Since you are supposed to drink an excessive amount of fluids while using Creatine, this large amount of water keeps the muscle cells hydrated and enables them to hold an ample supply of energy.
Post Workout: As soon as the final rep of my final exercise is completed, I reach for my Whey Protein, L-Glutamine and Creatine. I take a triple serving of the Whey protein, which provides me with 75 grams of protein, 3 heaping scoops of L-Glutamine and a single serving of the creatine. Supplements are basically used as a kick starter for the muscle building process but using them on their own is not 100% effective. The majority of your nutrients should come from whole, non processed foods. Since my workout is finished just a few hours before dinner, I usually just eat two cans of tuna and some boiled spaghetti noodles. This provides my body with an additional 50 grams of protein and an increase in carbs.
Dinner: Once dinner time rolls around I usually have chicken breast or a large steak with potato or rice and a good serving of vegetables. For dessert I will usually eat 2 apples. I also drink a few glasses of water, milk and juice.
9 pm: This is my last chance to top up on essential nutrients to carry my body through the night. I like to eat some fruit, a chicken or tuna sandwich and lots of milk and water.
10:30 pm: By this time, I am ready to crash for the night. I should have enough nutrients taken in throughout the day to help with recovery throughout the night, and be able to wake up the next morning, energized and ready for another day in the gym.
This is only an example of some of the foods I may eat during the day. I usually eat more than this, along with much more water, orange juice and milk. The key to building muscle is variation in your food intake. To sum up designing a decent recovery process, eat as much quality food as possible, use a few effective, yet simple supplements and drink lots of water. Train safely, effectively and most importantly, keep it natural.