Having the right nutrients at the right time is a popular strategy involving the intake of a combination of nutrients -primarily protein and carbohydrate.

Some research-based studies prove that it may produce dramatic improvement in  composition of the body. The correct intake of proteins is more important than just the intake of nutrients. Post-exercise or workout is the most critical period of nutrient timing. As having the right proportion and ratio induces both recovery and body composition. Moreover, to get optimised training-related muscular adaptation in body, it is important to eat during an “anabolic window” which is only for a limited time.

What’s the science behind it?

Glycogen Repletion

During resistance training, around 80% of energy is glycogen derived. As per certain  studies it has been observed that primary depletion of energy is from Type -II fibres (fast-twitch) as compared to Type -I (slow-twitch) muscle fibres, which are more prominent in strength athletes. This indicates that in a workout , the use of the same set of muscle groups in exercise can deplete the majority of glycogen stores.

Muscle catabolism and anabolism are regulated by different cellular pathways. For instance, low glycogen levels are associated with an increase in AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) activity, which is a cellular energy sensor responsible for enhancing energy. Additionally, it also depends upon pre-workout glycogen stores and glycogen inhibition, which  in return regulates the muscle hypertrophy.

The synergistic effects of protein-carbohydrate intake post 2+ hours have been attributed to an enhanced insulin response, although only a few studies claim this.

Protein Breakdown

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Muscle protein breakdown is slightly elevated immediately post-workout and increases thereafter. So in a fasted state, breakdown is heightened at 195 minutes following resistance exercise which results in a negative energy balance.

Muscle hypertrophy refers to an increase in myofibril protein synthesis and decrease in muscle breakdown. It is advisable  to suggest a combination of protein and carbohydrate intake to promote a reduction in protein breakdown than carbohydrate alone.

Protein Synthesis

The biggest benefit post-workout is in muscle protein synthesis. The stimulatory effect of hyper-aminoacidemia on muscle protein synthesis is potentiated by the previous exercise. A study was conducted among 5 males and females each, 10gm of protein, 8 gm carbohydrate and 3 gm fat were given immediately post exercise and after 3 hours, to the other group. The protein synthesis was three times more in immediate consumption as compared to delayed intake.

To sum up, the data based on certain studies indicates that even minimal to moderate pre-exercise EAA (Essential Amino Acid) or high-quality protein if taken before resistance training , helps in sustained amino acid delivery post-exercise period. Positive effects were realised concerning muscle growth after resistance training. Hence, nutrient timing is pivotal in order to boost anabolism , promote muscle recovery and achieve desired fitness goal. 

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