Exercise causes an increase in catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine), allowing you to function at a higher level of output. In addition to physiologic stimulation, catecholamines and other hormones allow you to start using stored fuels like glycogen and fats at a faster rate. At the end of a moderate to high intensity workout, you are left with low muscle glycogen stores. These low levels of glycogen trigger the release of glycogen synthase; an enzyme that replenishes lost glycogen stores. The levels of glycogen synthase in your body rise in direct proportion to the muscle glycogen just depleted. So if you workout hard and long with large muscle groups, you increase glycogen synthase levels significantly. It is these high glycogen synthase levels that allow you to absorb a significant amount of carbs at once and not cause fat storage like other times when the levels of glycogen synthase are normal to low!
The presence of glycogen synthase in your bloodstream is highest immediately after intense exercise, peaking at 30 minutes and falling gradually till 90 minutes, continuing to fall as time passes, then falling rapidly again after 2 hours.
Ideally, your post workout meal or supplement should be consumed close to 30 minutes (or sooner if possible) after an intense exercise session as it is the single most important factor that helps you recover by replenishing lost glycogen. Furthermore, research shows that combining protein with carbs in the post workout meal nearly doubles the stored glycogen. The optimal carb to protein ratio for this effect is 4:1 (four grams of carbs for every one gram of protein). Eating more protein than that, however, has a negative impact because it slows rehydration and glycogen replenishment.
For highly effective nutritional strategies or a Nutrition Plan for your physical activities, contact us at Azhar Therapy & Fitness or call 405-752-7377 to set up a consultation.