People always tend to focus on pre-workout meals (including myself). However, consuming the right nutrients after your “sweat routine” can boost your results.
After some research, I finally managed to come up with a detailed guide to optimal post-workout nutrition. Keep reading and find out more about what you should eat after your workout.
Why Post-Workout Meals are Important?
Let’s start with the basics. Why is it important to consume the right food after a workout? How does it affect your body? What should you eat after your workout?
Before answering these questions you must first understand how physical activity affects your body.
Let me explain. While exercising, your muscles use stored glycogen as fuel. Thus, your muscles become partially deprived from glycogen. As for proteins, these last get affected too.
When your “sweat routine”is finally over, your body tries to repair damaged protein and restore the glycogen that you wasted. Thus, your body completes its mission faster when you consume the right foods.
Now, what are the best foods to consume? Carbs and protein in particular are mandatory for the following reasons: stimulating recovery, restoring glycogen, enhancing protein recovery and muscle growth.
Protein, Carbs, or Fat?
Here’s the interesting part. Each of these nutrients contribute in the recovery process.
Protein. In addition to what I already explained, consuming protein gives your body amino acids necessary for recovery and muscle tissues. Eating 20 – 40 grams of protein after a workout is a great option.
Here are the best protein foods: salmon, tuna, chicken, eggs, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. Some recommend having protein powder, but I prefer sticking with more natural options.
Carbs. Consuming an adequate amount of carbs replenishes glycogen stores more efficiently. For the perfect combination, pair every 20 g of protein with 60-80 g of carbs. As a matter of fact, insulin secretion – which assists in glycogen secretion – works best when protein and carbs are consumed together.
Carbs I recommend having: fruits (i.e. berries, kiwi, banana, pineapple),plenty of vegetables (dark, leafy green ones), quinoa (my number one choice paired with a green salad), oatmeal, rice, sweet potatoes, and rice cakes.
Fat. Let’s make things clear here. Fat is not that evil! It does slow down the absorption of other foods, but it does not reduce their benefits. A study published by “National Center for Biotechnology Information” proved that skim milk was not that effective in promoting muscle growth compared to whole milk. Another study showed that having high-fat meals did not affect muscle glycogen synthesis. Thus, fat does not affect your recovery.
For those of you who are trying to lose weight, limiting fat intake is a must (unless you’re on a ketogenic diet).
Fats I recommend consuming: avocado, nuts, dried fruits and nuts, and nut butters.
Don’t Forget to Keep Your Body Hydrated!
Drink plenty of water before and after your workout. Why? When exercising, your body loses a lot of electrolytes and water though sweat.
Depending on how intense your workouts are, it might be a good idea to consume an electrolyte drink. To sum it up, hydration ensures the optimal internal state of your body and maximizes results.
Keep in mind that, if you are not able to have your meal within 30 mins of your workout, it’s important not to wait more than 2 hours.