Fast digesting, high-gycemic-index carbohydrates tend to create a large surge of the anabolic hormone insulin streaming through your body. Normally, this would not be ideal because insulin can promote fat storage, but post-workout, high insulin levels drive recovery nutrients such as creatine, glucose and amino acids into muscle cells to restock glycogen and stymie further muscle breakdown while encouraging its growth. Case in point: University of Texas researchers discovered that subjects who consumed a carbohydrate-protein supplement following exercise had a higher level of enzymes that promote muscle glycogen and protein synthesis.
As for carbohydrate choices, try post-workout recovery shake, fruit, fruit juice or a carb-rich sports drink to get more bang from your workouts. Aim for 0.3 to 0.6 grams of fasting acting carbohydrates per pound of body weight within the first hour after working out. Hard-gainers or those engaging in high-volume, exhaustive exercise on a regular basis should aim for the upper end of the range.