Post Workout Meal
Some people get extremely hungry following exercise, and others, myself included, finds food to be the last thing on their minds after a grueling exercise session. It is very important however to snack on something for a number of reasons.
One of the responses from your body after a rigorous workout, especially one involving resistance training, is to release insulin to help transport glucose around the body to re-fuel depleted muscle glycogen stores. By snacking effectively after a workout can help your body become more insulin sensitive, i.e. more effective at transporting, absorbing and utilizing sugars.
Many research studies point to the fact that the body craves all 3 macronutrients (protein, fats, carbs) immediately following a workout. There are debates as to the exact formula for the best success here, but for the most part, many studies can agree on a 4:1 carb to protein ratio, with a little fat thrown in for good measure.
The carbohydrates (sugars) are used to immediately replenish lost energy stores in the muscles and liver (glycogen) but the repairing and rebuilding process of the muscles also requires protein so it is nice to have some protein as well. Think of your muscles as a dry sponge, immediately following a workout. They gobble up the sugar that is floating in your bloodstream, so protein sort of gets a free ride into the muscle cells as well!
In a 12-week study, researchers found that bodybuilders who drank 500ml of milk immediately following a workout, then again 500ml an hour later gained more muscle mass and lost more fat than their counterparts who just consumed a carbohydrate-rich sports drink. The amino acids present in the milk allows the body to utilize these building blocks and create stronger, bigger muscles. Studies have also shown that calcium works as a tremendous fat burner as well!
I personally use chocolate milk immediately following an intense workout for these reasons listed above. It works as sort of a reward system for me since chocolate milk is so tasty. If I complete a hard workout, then I get to have some CM. If, however, I do not work out, or do not push myself hard enough, then I do not earn the drink!
For those of you that are training for an aerobic event such as a marathon or triathlon, you too can benefit from a proper post-workout drink/meal as a meal containing some protein helps reduce the catabolic effects of chronic aerobic training. So although you will not be necessarily gaining large amounts of muscle, you can be rest assured knowing that the protein aids in preventing the loss of your current muscle.