The Four-Hour Post-Workout Window of Opportunity
There is a very important aspect of recovery after a workout that is often overlooked but can give you the results you're looking for. It is known as the Four-Hour Window of Opportunity.
When you exercise, your body burns carbohydrates for energy and breaks down your muscle tissue (especially if you are weight training). Immediately after a workout, the body has an enhanced ability to utilize nutrients such as glucose (sugar) and protein (your body's main building blocks) in order to rebuild and recover from your exercise.
Taking in nutrients immediately after exercise helps you to recover faster and feel better after a workout.
Protein - Immediately following a workout, (within a few minutes of completion) take some protein. The easiest and best way to do this is in the form of a protein powder, though a food source such as milk will do. Taking protein gives your body something to rebuild with instead of tearing down it's own muscle tissue for building blocks. Do not take protein right before a workout as it will just sit in your gut and may cause bloating (among other things).
Carbohydrates - Take in about 60 to 100 grams of carbohydrates to help the body refuel. Your body is most efficient at rebuilding it's carbohydrate stores immediately after a workout. A few common examples of healthy carbs to take after a workout include juices, fruits, and sports drinks. Examples of protein foods include milk, eggs, poultry, fish, meat, or soy products. Flavored yogurt is an excellent example of a post-workout snack. It contains simple carbs, protein and calcium all in one.
Post-Workout Meal - About one hour after the workout, take in a high quality source of protein and a good supply of carbohydrates such as grains or cereals. At this time, the body has settled down from the stress of the workout and is looking to rebuild. By supplying an ample amount of raw materials, you will be preventing the body from eating itself in order to recover.
Relax - This is when you recover from a workout!