When it comes to building muscle, your workouts are a huge piece of the puzzle, but your nutrition is even bigger. You can work as hard and as long as you want in the gym, but if your diet isn’t on point, you’re not going to get the results you want. It’s simple.
You need to feed the muscles what they need to support proper growth and recovery. The immediate period following a workout is when your body is at its highest need for nutrients, so giving it the proper ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fat is key to stimulating muscle protein synthesis and getting the repair process started ASAP.
Ultimate Post Workout Muscle Building Protein Smoothie Recipe Video
Why Your Post-Workout Meal Is Essential For Muscle Growth
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that what you eat after (and before) your workout sets the stage for the results you see. You work hard in the gym not to blow it with your eating, so getting in the nutrients that your body needs to fuel, repair, and grow is critical in that window after training.
You’ve probably heard all the talk about the “post-workout anabolic window of opportunity” so this may be nothing new to you, or it may be totally foreign. In any case, I’m going to help you understand just how important that hour or two after you workout is if muscle growth and boosting your testosterone is your goal.
Let me first start by explaining three basic principles:
- Your body uses nutrients differently at different times of the day and during different activities
- What you consume before, during, and after your workout is key to the results you’ll see
- By loading up on certain nutrients after your workout you can enhance muscle growth, fat loss, and testosterone level
They’re pretty straightforward and the goal of all three of these principles is to maximize your gains. In general, your post-workout nutrition also has three specific goals :
- Replenish glycogen stores
- Limit protein degradation
- Increase muscle protein synthesis
Essentially, we want to top up energy stores that have been depleted through training, increase muscle size and strength, and repair any damage that was caused to muscles during your workout.
The reason why post-workout nutrition is SO important is because during intense workouts, or even any form or resistance training that puts stress on muscles, we damage tissues at a microlevel. This damage is ultimately what increases muscle size and strength, but after a workout it requires repair.
This repair and regrowth process happens when old, damaged proteins are recycled to form new ones; it’s a process called protein turnover and it is constantly happening in your body, but at increased levels after a workout, assuming you’re refuelling correctly.
Under normal circumstances (in a resting state), protein degradation and protein synthesis is pretty much balanced, but with exercise, the extent of protein degradation is going to depend on the intensity of the workout; more intense training causes increased protein breakdown and decreased protein synthesis .
So, if you want to prevent muscle protein breakdown after resistance workouts, you have to feed your body what it needs to repair and grow these tissues–amino acids.
Studies consistently show that Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) is enhanced by ingestion of amino acids, but the degree to which MPS increases depends on the quantity of amino acids consumed ; more essential amino acids (EAAs) have a greater impact on MPS. And studies also show that MPS increases when amino acids are consumed immediately after exercise .
With that said, let’s go back to my original point–MPS increased slightly after resistance training, while muscle protein breakdown increases drastically; your body is doing a lot more breaking down than it is building, which is why we need to support building.
Muscle hypertrophy can only occur when there is a positive protein balance during recovery. In simple terms, you have to make sure you have enough building blocks for protein synthesis so that the breakdown doesn’t exceed it.
Protein availability is key for this aspect because if the amino acids aren’t available, your body can’t use them and you can’t repair and grow muscles. It’s a simple principle.
The other thing I mentioned before was this “anabolic window of opportunity.” It’s something that’s been talked about in the fitness world for ages and while studies do find that this window isn’t exactly what we thought it was, there still is a period of time post-workout where your body is primed to absorb nutrients.
Because your body depletes a significant amount of stored fuel during intense resistance training (glycogen and amino acids) and damages tissues, theoretically consuming the proper ratio of nutrients after training would stimulate rebuilding of damaged tissues and replenish energy stores, but also do this in a way that enhances both body composition and exercise performance .
You want to optimize your training-related muscular adaptations, which means getting those nutrients into your body ASAP.
The Role Of Macros In Your Post-Workout Meal (Hint: You Need Them ALL)
We always hear about protein and carbs as the gold stars of muscle building post workout, and while yeah, loading up on those are key to stimulating MPS and replenishing glycogen stores, you actually need all three macros–protein, fat, and carbs. That’s especially important if you’re dealing with any sort of testosterone deficiency
All of the ingredients in this post-workout smoothie that we’re going to breakdown below are your biggest hitters when it comes to muscle building and optimizing testosterone levels. Yes, protein and carbs are two biggies for restoring glycogen and stimulating MPS, but if you’re not getting the micronutrients, you’re not doing your hormones any favors.
For muscle growth, you need protein. Well, you need the amino acids that protein breaks down to, especially leucine–the amino acid that plays a major role stimulating the mTOR pathway for protein synthesis.
For energy, you need complex carbs in the form of glucose; your body breaks down carbs into glucose to supply your cells with that it needs, and then stores the leftovers as glycogen.
Glycogen reserves are one of the fastest and most efficient resources for your body to draw on during intense exercise, and if you want to perform, you need these reserves full.
For testosterone production, you need micronutrients.
Those come from things like nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Zinc and vitamin D are both critical to testosterone production; magnesium is important for electrolyte balance, muscle growth, and testosterone; omega-3 fatty acids are key for reducing inflammation and accelerating recovery; fibre is required to regulate bowel movements and eliminate excess estrogen; and healthy fats are needed to support cholesterol production, which is the precursor to testosterone.
You can’t do a job for 10 with one person, so don’t neglect the macro AND micronutrients from your post-workout shake.
The Simplest Way To Max Out Your Post-Workout Nutrition
Eating a whole-foods meal after a solid workout is one way to maximize your gains and stimulate muscle protein synthesis immediately, but for times when you’re on-the-go or just don’t have time to cook an entire meal, smoothies are a great sub that do the same job–sometimes even better.
Some people love to toss back a shake with just straight protein, but like we just covered, there’s a lot more that goes into post-workout nutrition and muscle building besides protein. You need a good mix of all the nutrients to optimize T levels, boost muscle growth, and shed fat.
And by downing a high-protein smoothie after your training, you could help to:
- Accelerate recovery by stimulating insulin to increase nutrient transport into cells
- Enhance digestion and absorption
- Increase tolerance to food post-workout (some people aren’t hungry or can’t stomach a big meal right after training)
So, with all of that said, I want to give you one of my favorite ways to refuel after a hard training session. It’s simple, delicious, and loaded with protein, carbs, and fat to build testosterone, increase muscle mass, and take your performance to a whole new level.
Ultimate Muscle-Building Vanilla-Blueberry Protein Smoothie Recipe
Looking for an easy and delicious way to maximize your gains after a workout that isn’t the typical protein shake, egg whites, and oatmeal? This vanilla-blueberry protein smoothie is jam packed with the foundational nutrients to support muscle growth, boost testosterone production, and accelerate recovery.
Whether you’re on-the-go or not, it’s a must-have recipe that you won’t want to lose.
The Ultimate Post Workout Muscle Building Protein Smoothie Recipe
1 cup steel-cut oats
1 banana, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons cashews
½ cup organic blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup mixed greens (spinach, kale, spring mix, etc.)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon hemp hearts
1-1½ scoop LeanPro30 grass-fed vanilla protein powder
1 scoop Amino Power BCAA
1 scoop Advanced Creatine
1 cup water
Blend and Enjoy Your Smoothie
The Smoothie Recipe Breakdown
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of each ingredient.
Steel Cut Oats
Slow-burning carbs are the way to go when it comes to maximizing muscle growth. While some people will argue that a quick-digesting carb will spike insulin to shuttle amino acids into your muscle faster, they also spike blood sugar, which long-term will cause metabolic issues, fat accumulation, and weight gain–things that naturally come along with age that you’re not looking to fall prey to. Complex carbs, on the other hand, digest slowly and supply a sustained release of glucose to keep energy level stable.
Steel cut oats are one of my favorite sources of complex carbs to add to smoothies. They’re not only key for supporting the thyroid, which is the master gland for regulating your metabolism, and replenishing glycogen stores depleted during intense workouts, but oats have also been shown to be protective against heart disease by improving cholesterol levels, reduce chronic inflammation, and improve gut flora [5, 6, 7].
Oh, and did I forget to tell you that complex carbs are key for boosting testosterone?
Bananas are a fav for post-workout snacks, but they’re also my go-to for smoothies. They don’t just make smoothies taste way better, but they’re also loaded with nutrients important for muscle building–especially potassium.
Potassium is an essential electrolyte required for fluid balance, nerve function, and nutrient transport, but because potassium is one of the several minerals lost in sweat during intensity exercise, it can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, and cramping.
Athletes and anyone engaging in high-intensity exercise need to replenish potassium daily to ensure optimal performance and recovery, but also muscle tissue growth. Without sufficient levels of potassium, your body cannot use the energy released during metabolic processes. Studies shed light on the role of potassium in ensuring optimum utilization of food elements required for protein synthesis and growth . But then we also have all the B vitamins that enhance absorption of zinc, which is critical for testosterone production.
Bottom line: Eat your bananas!
This creamy nut is one you don’t want to neglect from your shakes. They’re loaded with an abundance of nutrients that support good health, including copper, magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and manganese–nutrients that are important for supporting energy production, brain health, immune function, and bone health. But they’re also loaded with healthy fats that support production of good cholesterol–the precursor to testosterone.
When it comes to berries, blueberries are king–especially for men’s health. They’re rich in vitamin K, which is essential for supporting proper blood clotting, as well as vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and protect cells from damage. They’re especially high in what are called flavonoids, nutrients that give fruits and vegetables their bright color.
One specific study found that men who consumed more fruit had a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction by 14%, and men who consumed more flavonoid-rich foods in conjunction with physical activity reduced their risk by 21% . And if that wasn’t enough, researchers suggest that anthocyanins, flavanones and flavones–all of which are types of flavonoids–have the most profound effect in preventing erectile dysfunction. Blackberries, blueberries, and cherries are all rich sources of anthocyanins, which is also linked to improved blood vessel health.
Additionally, blueberries are also high in fibre, which helps bind excess hormones for excretion in stool, and for excess estrogen, that’s the only way out of the body. And as we know, estrogen and testosterone levels need to be balanced; when estrogen is too high, it decreases testosterone levels and you start to experience nasty symptoms of high estrogen.
I know I’m going to sound like your mother when I tell you that you need to eat your greens!! Leafy greens are loaded with all sorts of micronutrients–vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, folate, vitamin K, calcium, iron, potassium, and more–along with magnesium, which plays a huge role in testosterone production.
One study found that exercise (obviously) increases testosterone levels, but 4 weeks of magnesium supplementation resulted in a significant increase in free and total testosterone levels in both sedentary individuals and athletes, with those who exercised regularly and supplemented seeing the greatest increases .
Chia Seeds & Hemp Hearts
These small but mighty seeds are packed full of nutrients that support men’s health.
For 1 oz. of chia seeds you’re looking at 11 grams fibre, which supports excess estrogen elimination, 4g protein, 9 grams of what (5g of which are omega-3s), calcium magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins. And for hemp hearts you’re looking at a similar nutrition profile with higher protein content, iron, zinc, vitamin E, and sulfur. They’ve also been shown to support heart health by improving lipid profile, reducing inflammation, fighting insulin resistance and belly fat, and increasing levels of good cholesterol, the precursor to testosterone [11, 12, 13].
Combined, these little guys go a long way to support estrogen elimination, testosterone production, muscle growth, and proper recovery.
A high-quality protein powder in your smoothie is a must for a few reasons. First and foremost, protein is the building block of muscle growth and if you aren’t consuming enough dietary protein, your body doesn’t have the amino acids it needs to build functional proteins and both your muscle mass and recovery are going to suffer.
Whey protein is an amazing option for protein powders, but it’s not just any old whey–you want grass-fed to avoid all the hormones, antibiotics, and other harsh chemicals that come in conventional whey protein. Studies actually show that organic grass-fed whey contains more beta-lactoglobulin, lactoferrin, and lysozyme than conventional whey [xx]. I know what you’re thinking… Funk, I don’t know what any of these are, but let me explain.
- Beta-lactoglobulin → B-lactoglobulin isn’t a compound in whey, it is whey protein. The bioactive milk peptide is shown to boost immunity, decrease oxidative stress, improve cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and act as an antioxidant [x, x2, x3].
- Lactoferrin → Another protein that has powerful effects on immune function and regulating inflammation [x4, x5].
- Lysozyme → A natural born killer, the role of lysozyme is maximized when combined with lactoferrin. It may reduce inflammation and inhibit growth of pathogenic bacteria [x6].
But the other reason why I LOVE grass-fed whey is because it’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids needed for muscle protein synthesis, but it also contains leucine that absorbs faster and is more effective for stimulating muscle protein synthesis than other proteins sources [x7].
Unlike other whey powders that are full of nasty ingredients, LeanPro30 is always my top choice. Not only does it taste amazing, but it’s naturally sweetened with stevia, lactose-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, no sugar, no soy and contains 28g of high-quality protein per scoop.
If there’s one supplement that can maximize muscle growth and recovery, it’s amino acids. The BCAAs are a group of three essential amino acids–leucine, isoleucine, and valine–that play a critical role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Of the bunch, leucine has the biggest impact on stimulating the mTOR pathway–the main route for protein synthesis. And while research is mixed as to whether BCAAs are essential for boosting muscle growth, there’s some pretty conclusive evidence that they don’t hurt.
A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Physiology found that people who consumed 5.6f of BCAAs after a resistance training workout saw a 22% greater increase in muscle protein synthesis compared to those who consumed a placebo drink [x8]. Studies also note that after strenuous exercise, dietary protein or BCAAs are required for recovery of muscle protein to increase tissue levels of leucine via mTOR [x9]. In conjunction with insulin, skeletal muscles can coordinate protein synthesis, repair muscle damage, and stimulate new muscle growth.
If there’s one supplement that all men should be taking if you’re trying to boost muscle growth, it’s creatine. Creatine has got a pretty bad rep over the years so it’s no surprise that most people take a hard pass on it, but I’m telling you that it’s worth it. Not because it physically makes your muscles bigger by drawing in water, but because of its requirement in energy production to sustain high-intensity workouts. Your body’s ability to continually produce energy to fuel working muscles is dependent on levels of phosphocreatine (PCr), which are depleted with intense activity, but when you supplement with creatine, you’re directly boosting intramuscular phosphocreatine concentrations and therefore directly boosting regeneration of ATP. Basically, creatine allows you to work harder for longer [x10].
And with my Advanced Creatine supplement, you’re also getting fenugreek to aid in the absorption of creatine into muscle cells to max out on the benefits [x11].