Food is fuel for your body, and when you exercise, you burn that fuel. That’s why your post-workout eating is just as important as what you eat before you work out. Your body runs on glycogen when you’re working out, and releases fluids and electrolytes through sweat. You need to replenish these things after your workout, but you also need protein and carbs to help your body repair and build muscle. Here, we offer a few tips on what to eat to accomplish these post-workout goals.
After a workout, you’ll need to eat a combination of nutrients to help repair your muscles and enhance your recovery. Doing so will decrease the breakdown of muscle protein, increase muscle growth and restore the glycogen you burned during your workout. Let’s look at the each of these components of post-workout nutrition separately.
Protein is good for your muscles. Even the best-trained athletes experience muscle breakdown and need to consume protein after a workout. The right amount of this nutrient provides your body with amino acids, which will repair and rebuild the muscles. To maintain muscle, aim for .14 to .23 grams of protein for every pound of your body weight and if you want to gain muscle and are weightlifting frequently, increase that to 1.2 to 1.7 grams for every pound of body weight.
Carbohydrates replenish glycogen stores. The amount of glycogen you use during a workout depends on the activity itself. Endurance sports like running and swimming usually burn more glycogen than resistance training activities like weightlifting. Taking in .5 to .7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight within about 30 minutes of training is best for your glycogen resynthesis. Eating protein and carbs together stimulates insulin, to promote the synthesis of glycogen. Experts recommend a ratio of 3:1, carbs to protein, for best results. Note: carbohydrates are most important for someone exercising frequently, and less important for someone who has a day or two between workouts.
Fat gets a bad rap. People think that fat slows down your digestion, and this can be true. However, there’s a perception that this slowdown of absorption inhibits the benefits you get from the nutrients, and this is false. Even when you ingest a high-fat meal after a workout, it won’t inhibit your glycogen synthesis. Healthy fats will help you feel satisfied for longer than you otherwise would, without blunting the effects of the other nutrients.
A meal within two hours is preferred, but if meal time is more than two hours away, consider a snack. You might choose yogurt and fruit, a peanut butter sandwich or a post-workout recovery smoothie. Of course, your post-workout food is not the only meal that comes into play in terms of your fitness. Ideally, you should be exercising consistently and eating small, well-balanced meals every three or four hours, while also drinking water throughout the day. Here are some examples of foods that are nutritious and easily digested, making them perfect for a post-workout meal.
Sweet potatoes and potatoes, Quinoa and other whole grains like rice, oatmeal and whole grain bread, Fruits like pineapple, kiwi, bananas or berries, Pasta, Edamame.
Protein powder, either animal or plant-based, Eggs, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, Salmon or tuna, Chicken, Protein bar.
Avocado, Nuts or seeds, Nut butters.
Eating well is part of creating a healthy lifestyle, and at the Wellbridge Family of Athletic Clubs, we’re all about helping you do that. That’s why we offer world-class training that keeps up to date with the latest in health and wellness. At our clubs, you’ll be greeted by our friendly team before you’re challenged and motivated by top-notch instructors in our fitness classes. You’ll make new friends because you belong here. Join today or contact us to learn more.