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The Six Most Important Post-Workout Nutrients

Fuel your body properly to recover and promote muscle growth

By Jim Stoppani Ph.D.
The Six Most Important Post-Workout Nutrients

At the end of every workout, the muscle fibers you’ve trained are in a state of disarray. They’re literally torn up from the torture you subjected them to in the gym. Their levels of glycogen (the storage form of carbs) have been depleted, and they’re quickly breaking down the protein they’re made of. The good news is they’re also primed to take up whatever nutrients you throw at them and turn this state of disarray into an anabolic state of recovery and muscle growth. You’d better hurry, though. Research suggests there’s a 45-minute window after workouts when muscles will take in higher amounts of nutrients. Miss this opportunity, and recovery and muscle growth will be compromised. After workouts, down these six ingredients ASAP.

Whey Protein


That short post-workout window doesn’t refer to when you consume nutrients; it refers to when those nutrients get to your muscles. The only protein fast enough for the job is whey. That’s one reason it’s always good to finish with a whey shake.

Casein Protein

Research shows that while whey spikes muscle protein synthesis, adding casein keeps it going for longer and further enhances muscle growth. A good option is to look for a protein powder that already combines whey and casein.


Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)—leucine, isoleucine, and valine—are the most critical aminos for muscle growth. Studies now point to leucine as being the master switch that starts the process of protein synthesis.

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