The following is a guestpost and does not necessarily reflect the views of exercisebasics.
The last thing you'll want after completing an hour-long, full-body workout is to think about, well, anything. You're allowed five minutes to walk around and stretch your muscles, paying attention to every part of your body that was pushed beyond its supposed limit a mere 10 minutes ago. You then need to take action, as your nutrition window is ticking.
Every gym-goer or athlete serious about results and their performance should be well-versed in sports nutrition. Products like creatine and protein shakes are proven muscle-builders for those pairing a healthy diet with regular exercise. A similar effect can be obtained by following a protein-rich plan, featuring vast quantities of red meat, fish and eggs. Though taking on supplements is a lot easier than having to ease down four filling meals each day.
Now, protein in any form, consumed at any time of day can be beneficial. Providing, of course, the subject in question is combining their intake with exercise, otherwise the nutrients will go to waste. As protein serves as one of the building blocks of body tissue and a crucial source of fuel, there is a time gap that can be used by gym-goers to obtain optimum results. This is called the nutrition window.
The window actually opens way before you've done your first curl. You should start taking small sips of your protein shake around 30 minutes before exercise. This will allow amino acids and sugars to flow freely into your bloodstream, ready for the workout.
The best way to gain results is to sip on your drink as you train, but your ability to do this depends on the discipline. Bodybuilders have no problem with this technique as they frequently take short breaks between equipment switches. Cyclists or runners, who might find it harder to break, are therefore advised to exchange their marathon sessions for groups of 30 sprints, with a two minute drinks break separating each period. Sipping throughout will fill your body with vital carbohydrates and even more amino acids to working muscles, allowing you to maintain peak levels of performance as you exercise.
Immediately finish off the rest of your drink when you complete the workout. You might even want to make another one if muscle growth is your goal. During this period, you muscles will absorb all of the carbohydrates and amino acids available and transform them into energy reserves. The extra protein will also repair torn fibres, allowing you to speed up your recovery process and come back fresh the next day.
Foods like steak, beans and almonds contain vast quantities of protein, but protein-rich liquids will find their way into the bloodstream at a much faster rate. The solid foods must be broken down and digested inside, as opposed to a soup or broth, which will slip straight down your stomach.
The only problem with this method of consumption is liquid meals aren't exactly the most appetising and your cravings for a large bowl of pasta are likely to creep in after a week. So, make an effort to follow a liquid diet every other time you go to the gym. Either that or really do consume two protein shakes after workout before fixing up a protein-fuelled dinner, like an omelette or steak sandwich.
Disclaimer: If you read exercisebasics regularly you may know my view on protein supplementation. While I don't typically endorse the use of protein powders, they do have their place and I think that the above article is well-thought out and appropriately written.