When it comes to building muscle, post workout nutrition plays a key role and can make or break results. This post-workout period of eating, the 3-5 hours immediately following your workout, is without a doubt the most important time to eat properly to build muscle.
After intense weight training your body loses vital nutrients and will act like a sponge and soak up whatever you eat quite quickly. So what you eat during this time is very important and if you eat the right foods you can greatly increase your muscle building potential and speed up your recovery.
Ok, so now you understand the importance of your post workout nutrition. Let's take a look at what you need to accomplish after your intense workout for the best muscle building results:
All this can be done by consuming two post workout meals. One protein shake taken immediately after your workout, and another whole-food meal soon after.
Post Workout Shake
The reason you should drink a protein shake straight after your workout is because your body is in a lot of stress and is starving for nutrients. You need to quickly replenish your body with the right nutrients, and a liquid meal will do this best.
Your post workout shake should contain these ingredients for the best results:
1 - 30-40 grams of whey protein.
2 - 5 grams of creatine if you are taking creatine.
3 - 5 grams of glutamine.
4 - 70-80 grams of simple sugar, eg dextrose.
All this should be mixed in water and taken as soon as possible after completing your workout (no longer than 20 minutes after). Mixing it with milk won't be as effective because it will take a little longer to digest. At any other time of the day milk would be fine for a protein shake, but during post workout nutrition you need to recover as fast as you can, so use water.
Taking a high-potency multivitamin supplement with the protein shake is also recommended.
Post Workout Meal
After taking your post workout protein shake, you should eat your second post-workout meal which will be made up of whole foods. Aim to eat this meal 45 minutes to an hour after finishing your workout.
This meal needs to contain some high quality protein and high glycemiccarbohydrates. Any quality protein source will do, so long as its a whole food. Eg: steak, chicken, tuna, fish, or eggs.
High glycemic carbohydrates are the types of carbs that break down quickly into your bloodstream. This is what you need for your second post workout meal. Some good sources for this would be potatoes, white rice, or rice cakes.
Here is an example of what your second post-workout meal could look like:
- 6oz of steak
- 1 potato
- Glass of orange juice
This meal will continue to provide your starving muscles with the nutrients they require in order to synthesize new muscle tissue and restore glycogen levels. After this second meal there is still about 2 hours or so to take advantage of as best you can.Your goal in this 3-hour window is to consume as much high quality protein and high glycemic carbohydrates as you can.
The goal of this meal is to give your body the nutrients it needs to start the muscle growth and repair process. The more quality protein and high glycemic carbohydrates you eat at this meal, the better.
The majority of guys out there trying to build muscle don't realize the importance of post workout nutrition. It can greatly accelerate your results if you do it right. But if you ignore this critical feeding time, your gains will suffer.
So to sum it all up, after your intense weight training session you should consume 2 meals. One protein shake taken immediately, and one whole food meal taken within 45-60 minutes. Following this routine will give you all the more chance to pack on massive amounts of muscle as fast as possible.
Hopefully this article has helped, but always remember to never get stuck in research land - information is great, but what's 10x more important and essentially the only thing that really matters to get big results (and without having to wait years) is to be consistently applying/executing on a properly structured, effective program week in week out. Ideally that program should be well-balanced and specifically designed for you as a skinny beginner/hardgainer, that includes all the leading science-based principles and strategies for effective weight gain and muscle growth.
Are you going to seize this year and get GREAT results, or are you going to let it go to waste and end up in the same place this time next year, looking and feeling pretty much the exact same way that you do now like most guys? You essentially have 3 ways to leave the excuses and dreaming behind and get on the fast-track to levelling up your physique and your life for good.
Learn all the crucial basics, principles and over-arching strategies you need to know about planning the best well-balanced, science-based, all-natural mass building program for your specific goal and workout/diet preferences with our pillar 7-step comprehensive guide for beginner lifters and future heros. If you don't want to spend any money at all, this is how you do it, but be sure to thoroughly research all aspects of your DIY muscle gain program as an unbalanced/bro-science/straight-up-bad program can mean little to no gains at best, and bad posture, injuries and a whole lot of having to backtrack later at worst.
To save time having to research and plan the best muscle building program for your specific goals as a hardgainer/skinny-guy/skinny-fat-dad-bod/whatever, there are indeed some excellent pre-made online programs out there that have stood the test of time in getting guys great results. It can give you a great head-on your transformation journey, and will make things simpler for you as it's simply a matter of executing a specific eating and workout program and not having to worry about getting all the little important details of your program on-point. Sean Nal's hardgainer transformation program (see my full review and before/after pics using the program here) is the complete all-in-one online program I'd recommend to most people and especially beginners, and is the one I personally got the most out of it when I first started. Ignore any slick marketing, this guy's the real deal and easily one of the smartest hardgainers-turned-fitness-models I've come across online. Vince Delmonte's Mass Gain program comes in at a close second, who's another reputable guy with a great step by step online program that has been proven to work effectively for thousands of guys worldwide.
Path C: Find a (Good) In-Person Trainer
The most expensive option to achieve your dreams, but if you have the money to spend (1 on 1 coaching can quickly add up in costs) then ensure you pick a trainer who understands the science behind muscle gain, fat burning, supplementation, nutrition, etc, and most importantly choose one who practices what they preach and has similar results to what you want. If you're a hardgainer, ideally you'll want a trainer who has been in your shoes before and started out as a skinny hardgainer themselves and managed to build muscle successfully, otherwise they may not understand the best course of action for you and give you unhelpful generic advice because they found it easier than you to gain size.
Whichever path you choose - stick with it for long enough, don't give up, and your success in completely transforming your body, strength, health, posture, and confidence will simply be a matter of time. Good luck.
Mad-Scientist of Hardgainer-to-Hero Transformations for 12 Years & Counting
Last and Definitely Least: Certified Fitness Instructor (real-world experience > school)