Recovery is what matters when it comes to acquiring next-level strength. You probably know that, which is why you also probably have a post-workout shake on hand for when you’re done hitting the iron. But what you may not know is that your body can sense when you’re inflicting damage to it from your first rep. As a result, it starts the recovery process midworkout, according to Andrew Triana, a world-renowned strength coach to elite-level strongmen competitors.
“If you want to nip soreness in the bud and get a head start on your recovery, consider intra-workout nutrition,” Triana says. “It will give you that leg up.” Triana breaks down what you need to know.
Intra-workout nutrition refers to food—usually in the form of a shake—that you consume during your training session. “Normally, you should take in easily digestible fuel to supply readily usable energy for exercise,” Triana says.
Consuming easy-to-digest nutrients mid-training slows down the breakdown of muscle proteins, supplies the body with readily available energy for you to burn as fuel, and speeds the recovery process. One study published in the Journal of Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry found that participants who ingested 15 grams of dextrin worked out at a higher intensity and actually perceived the exercise to be easier.
Triana says you should practice intra-workout nutrition if you didn’t eat enough within two to three hours pretraining, you won’t be able to get in a meal within 90 minutes after your workout, you train at a low to moderate intensity for 80 minutes or more, or you train at a moderate to high intensity for 45 minutes or more. Keep in mind that these times should equal your actual work time, not your total time in the gym.
For carbs, Triana suggests taking in 20 to 100 grams (depending on your level of training intensity) from a quality dextrin powder. For the protein portion, aim for five to 25 grams (again, depending on the intensity) from sources like essential amino acids or hydrolyzed proteins (whey, casein, beef). Lastly, Triana notes that you should be generous with the amount of water you use to avoid a dense, unappealing shake.
Andrew Triana is a strength coach and a co-owner of the Performance Vibe, a fitness community. For more, visit theperformancevibe.com.