You cannot overestimate the critical importance that timing plays in post-exercise muscle recovery. Immediately after exercise, the cellular processes responsible for replenishing depleted glycogen stores and rebuilding and repairing muscle protein are activated. Providing the right combination of nutrients during this period of cellular activation has a dramatic effect on the completeness of the recovery process. The graph below illustrates this fact. The data is a compilation of multiple studies in which investigators measured the impact of delay on glycogen replenishment as well as repair and rebuilding of muscle protein.
Glucose uptake and glycogen storage are measures of how fast the muscle replenishes muscle glycogen depleted as a result of moderate to intense exercise. When a recovery beverage is consumed immediately after exercise, the replenishment of muscle glycogen is 200% greater than if one waits three hours or more.
The effect of timing on protein synthesis is equally impressive. When a carbohydrate/ protein recovery beverage is consumed immediately after exercise protein synthesis is six fold greater that when a recovery beverage is consumed three hours later. One of the most important results of these studies is the effect of delay on net protein balance. Muscle protein levels are the sum of protein synthesis and breakdown. After moderate to intense exercise there is an increase in muscle protein breakdown which is one of the factors that causes post exercise muscle soreness. Increased protein breakdown also results in a tougher workout the next day. Consuming a recovery drink immediately after exercise produced a positive net protein balance. Waiting three hours resulted in a net negative protein balance.
The bottom line- delay of nutrient supplementation has an adverse effect on your muscle’s rebuilding activities and impacts the quality and completeness of muscle recovery.
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