By Erny Peibst
How jacked a bodybuilder is depends on many different factors. Surprisingly though, building muscle has little to do with the workout itself.
The workout is merely a stimulus for growth; although without it you can’t expect to build any muscle. Most of the muscle a person builds is determined by things we can’t see.
For example, the supplements a person takes in the privacy of his/her own home is something we can’t observe (unless we stalk them/plant cameras in their house…not recommended unless you’re Dexter!).
These 'supplements' can be made up of natural/legal ingredients (which are approved by the FDA). Or they can be illegal anabolic steroids which will give you insane gains...at the expense of damaging your health and blunting your natural hormone production.
However, steroids aside, a person’s testosterone levels/genetics is arguably the most important factor when it comes to building muscle. And a person's genetic code isn't something you can see exactly.
Another thing we can’t see is what a person does/eats AFTER a workout.
Why does that matter? When we lift weights the hormones in our body become temporarily altered.
Coritsol levels go flying through the roof, whilst testosterone levels also become elevated. Because such hormones have a massive impact on body composition, manipulating them at the perfect times is crucial for building muscle and burning fat.
Cortisol is the stress hormone which has the ability to destroy muscle tissue and store body fat in stubborn areas when elevated for excessive amounts of time. Thus this hormone can help create that ‘skinny-fat look’ which many heavy drinkers develop.
Thus to reduce cortisol levels post-workout you should eat as soon as possible afterwards. Consuming a combination of high GI carbohydrates and a fast-acting protein is perfect for slashing cortisol levels.
High GI carbs will increase blood sugar levels and insulin, helping the absorption of protein and amino acids into the muscle cell. This will result with a higher level of protein synthesis, making you more anabolic.
Here’s a list of high GI carbs:
- Maltodextrin – 110
- Dextrose – 100
- Baked potato (white) -98
- Baguettes – 95
- White rice – 83
- Rice cake – 82
- Cornflakes – 79
- Yams – 74
(You can get maltodextrin and dextrose in powder form, which many bodybuilders like to add to their why protein shakes. As you can imagine – they taste very sweet!).
Taking 1000mg of vitamin C in supplement form is also effective in significantly reducing cortisol levels.
A bodybuilder’s daily protein requirements is controversial. Some people swear by the 1 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight rule, whilst others (like myself) believe that protein is overrated.
However, one time where protein may be beneficial is after your workout, because your muscles will have microscopic tears.
Thus in order for your muscles to grow back bigger and stronger they need protein…fast!
What protein is best for this?
Any protein that’s quickly absorbed/digested is ideal during this anabolic window, as they will reach the muscle cell faster.
An example of a fast-acting protein is whey protein (extracted from milk), hence how millions of bodybuilders adore this chalky-looking powder!
Egg protein is also a great post-workout protein because it’s fast-acting, like whey, and it has a very high biological value.
A protein’s biological value basically tells you how much the body can absorb and utilize that protein for the muscle-rebuilding process.
Protein BV Scores
- Eggs (whole) – 100.
- Egg whites – 88
- Whey protein isolate – 159
- Whey protein concentrate – 104
These are all exceptionally high scores, considering other great sources of protein like casein and chicken have scores of just 77 and 79.
These biological values also explain why whey protein isolate is more popular than concentrate (a higher BV score).
How much protein should you consume post-workout?
Some bodybuilders use one scoop and others use two scoops. However, there may be evidence to suggest 2 scoops is the better option…
Studies (1) have now shown that consuming 40g of protein post-workout stimulates more protein synthesis compared to a 20g serving (after they examined several muscle biopsies).
If you want to get the most from your workouts, make sure you control cortisol levels and maximize protein synthesis during the post-workout anabolic window.
This is a crucial time where your muscles crave protein and are more receptive to growth.
If abs are made in the kitchen…then muscles are grown in the anabolic window!
About Erny Peibst
Erny’s a natural bodybuilder from the South-West of England, whose goal is to help as many gym rats across the world train smart; helping maximize their genetic potential.
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