Post Workout Nutrition – Keeping it 100!


Let’s talk about nutrition and supplementation as it relates to performance enhancement, but for a real change of pace let’s keep it 100. Yes, I went there and used that term. What of it? 😉

Supplement company owners and their proxy shills have written a LOT of information over the years on the topic, but the end game was almost invariably to promote their products via massively overstated claims of what would happen if you used them. They most certainly were NOT keeping it 100…

Larry Wilmore of the The Nightly Show Keeps it 100
Larry Wilmore of the The Nightly Show Keeps it 100


It has been touted for years that consuming protein after training is a necessity for improved and or optimized recovery. This idea does have some merit, but it is not the entire truth. It first came about as a result of protein supplement companies seizing upon research that showed consuming protein post-workout could more quickly place your body in an anabolic state, and additional research showing whey in particular can powerfully promote enhanced protein synthesis.

The thing about studies is that to be scientifically valid they have to be highly controlled. The studies which show the most potent impact of post-workout consumption of protein were done with trainees who had fasted beforehand. Most of them had fasted for 12 or more hours before an intense training session and then consumed the requisite amount of protein after the session was complete. That is not how it goes in real life for the majority of trainees. Sure, some train in a fasted state the first thing in morning, but the majority have consumed a meal, or several meals prior to their training session. Most meals consumed in Western culture have a fair amount of fat content and will take 4-6 hours to be fully digested. That means that amino acids from the foods consumed will be deposited into the bloodstream for roughly that period of time.


One of the reasons post-workout protein consumption is theorized to be effective is that it provides the substrate, or fuel (in the form of amino acids) for the enhanced protein synthesis environment which is realized after an intense training session. Another reason is that specific amino acids such as leucine are know to be a catalyst for an enhancement of protein synthesis even beyond that already present in the post-workout state. If said amino acids are already present in the bloodstream from a previously ingested meal will the consumption of additional protein make a meaningful difference? The answer is probably not. Probably not? What is this heresy?

Bodybuilders and strength athletes in general have been brainwashed into believing they must ingest WAY more protein than needed in order to facilitate optimized recovery and potential super-compensation. The truth of the matter is that barring a low calorie pre-contest diet in which a bodybuilder might be engaged, the vast majority of strength athletes consume more than enough protein in their daily diets and do NOT need to supplement them with additional protein.

So Why Does AtLarge Nutrition Sell Supplements?

If the above is true why do we sell protein supplements (Nitrean and Opticen Natural)? I/we sell them because they DO have a purpose and use, it just isn’t what the industry has drilled into your minds for decades. Protein supplements are a product of convenience. They truly are a SUPPLEMENT to a sound diet and training routine. Despite what I noted above I DO feel it is a good idea to consume protein (and carbohydrates) post-workout as a form of insurance that your body has what it needs to optimize recovery. A protein shake is a great way to get that protein. I don’t know about you, but after I bust my ass in the gym I’m not necessarily in the mood to eat right away, but consuming a shake is no problem.

Protein shakes also have value as the lowest calorie possible source of quality whole protein. If you are on a calorically restricted diet a quality protein shake will thus provide a complete protein with minimized caloric content. Incorporating such a shake into your diet can allow you to hit your daily macronutrient goals while concurrently consuming a more varied diet and thus potentially more healthful and satisfying fare.

What About Carbs?

Protein is not the only macronutrient which can help to optimize post-workout recovery. Carbohydrates, a blend of quick, moderate, and slow absorbing with an emphasis on the quick is the best way to go. The previously stated meal absorption argument still applies here, but perhaps to a slightly lesser degree. What many individuals don’t know about carbohydrates and the post-workout environment, and this is especially true with the recent popularity of low carbohydrate diets, “Paleo” diets, and so on, is that carbohydrates and the insulin spike they can elicit serve multiple beneficial purposes after an intense training session. First, the quick absorbing carbs you consume will provide nearly immediate substrate for glycogen replenishment. Glycogen is a stored form of glucose in the muscles (and liver) and used to fuel intense training. The replenishment of glycogen is considered to be integral to overall recovery, and the more quickly it occurs the better. Second, quick absorbing carbs elicit a potent insulin response by the body. Insulin is a highly anabolic hormone which can enhance recovery both by enhancing glycogen AND protein synthesis. Its specific effect(s) on protein synthesis is equivocal, but at the very least it has a permissive effect. Its effect on glycogen synthesis is incontrovertible, it essentially “supercharges” it. End game, the presence of insulin in the post-workout physiological environment is profound as it further enhances the already enhanced synthesis of both protein and glycogen. Anabolic state anyone?

Bodybuilding legend Mike Mentzer knew the importance of carbs post-workout
Bodybuilding legend Mike Mentzer knew the importance of carbs post-workout

What is the Take Home Message?

The take home message is the consumption of both protein and carbohydrates after an intense training session is a good idea and doing it with a shake is a convenient, and efficient way to do so. In the case of my company and products the solution for post-workout shakes is Opticen Natural (which contains 30g of protein and roughly 41g of a carbohydrate blend), Nitrean Natural plus RESULTS 2.0, or Opticen Natural and RESULTS 2.0 for the athlete with higher carbohydrate requirements (endurance athletes etc.).

Do I want you to purchase and use AtLarge Nutrition’s products? Heck yes I do, but I want you to do so for the right reasons, in the right way, and I want you to have a solid understanding of what is occurring in your body after you train. I hope this short article has done just that.

The author being pensive...
The author being pensive…

Chris Mason is the owner of AtLarge Nutrition, LLC and an accomplished author in the fitness genre. He has written for numerous websites and magazines to include The CrossFit Journal and Iron Man Magazine.Chris Mason is the owner of AtLarge Nutrition, LLC and an accomplished author in the fitness genre. He has written for numerous websites and magazines to include The CrossFit Journal and Iron Man Magazine.