I thought I would quickly revisit this post after re reading it myself and could possibly see an element of confusing with my concluding statements. In short, essentially in my opinion I don’t believe consuming simple carbohydrates (e.g. sugars like dextrose & similar) over a complex carbohydrate source has any added benefit, If your next training session is the next day or later.
If however you are training 2x per day (the same muscle groups) within an 8 hour period, consuming high glycemic carbohydrates (post workout) would have an added benefit as you would need to replenish those glycogen stores before the next session.
The other situation I would recommend consuming high glycemic carbohydrates post workout would be if you are an endurance athlete, especially if you have another event the following day e.g. Tour de France comes to mine. (Another factor regarding this would be the sheer practical nature. These athletes would require a huge amount of calories before their next event; liquid nutrition would make this far more practical).
I would also reiterate if you choose to consume high glycemic carbohydrates post workout, which is absolutely fine (preference is important, especially regarding adherence). Just realise It isn’t necessary in my opinion unless you are any of the above.
Is a post workout insulin spike necessary with regards to hypertrophy (muscle gain)?
Where did this come from? Essentially the idea came about that insulin is a storage hormone, therefore when protein & carbohydrates are consumed post workout the insulin will shuttle glycogen and amino acids into the muscle cells to aid protein synthesis. You may hear such claims as you need fast digesting carbohydrates post workout (high glycemic sugars such as dextrose) to replenish glycogen stores and to spike your insulin.
Let’s tackle both of these issues once at a time. Firstly if a pre workout meal is consumed approx. 60 minutes before training, insulin will still be elevated during and for a period of time post workout. If protein & carbohydrates were to be consumed pre workout (even if fat is contained in this meal) amino acids and carbohydrates will still be digested throughout the workout and after training.
To quote Alan Aragon:
“To reiterate, the pre-exercise meal can have profound effects on insulin levels that surpass the length of the training bout. Tipton’s team found that as little as 6g essential amino acids+ 35g sucrose taken immediately before exercise (45-60 minutes of resistance training) was enough to keep insulin elevated to roughly 4x above fasting 1- hour post exercise. It took 2 hours post-workout for insulin to return to resting levels. A similar insulin response was seen with 20g whey itself taken immediately pre workout. If carbohydrates were added to the pre-training protein, there would be a greater insulin response.”
Therefore a greater insulin spike is not necessary. Realise that a lot of the studies on post workout nutrition have been done on fasted training sessions, as well as based on endurance athletes mostly. If you train fasted however high glycemic carbohydrates may be more suitable. (This would be an interesting topic for debate, however in my opinion this is still not necessary, remember all foods cause an insulinogenic response. Whey protein for example is extremely insulinogenic).
What about replenishing glycogen stores as quickly as possible? Firstly people are under the false impression that 45min-1 hour weight training session really depletes their glycogen stores. It doesn’t. Only endurance athletes really deplete their glycogen stores fully.
Also if your next training session is 24 hours away (or longer), glycogen stores will be topped up if correct amounts of carbohydrates are consumed post workout and for the rest of the day anyway. This would however be important if you have two training sessions per day (especially if you are training the same muscle group twice in the same day, very rare however).
In my opinion if you want to have high glycemic carbohydrates post workout (simple sugars), that’s fine, which is your preference. Just realise they are not necessary and complex source will be just as suitable. Provided you Macro nutrients are on point for the whole of the day that is the most important factor as well as micro nutrients. Remember protein synthesis and protein break down are going on all the time, your goal for the day should be to exceed protein synthesis against protein break down.
Another miscomputation is the consumption of eating fat in your post workout meal however I will save that post for another day.
I have only covered one topic here with regards to post workout nutrition. Still lots of other areas to cover (including the alleged post workout opportunity), stay tuned.