What you eat after working out is sometimes just as important as the workout. Find out what you should eat after working out with some of our recommendations.
For a lot of people, following a workout plan and getting exercise daily is routine. It becomes second nature. Yet even after training hard every day you're still not seeing the results you want. It can be frustrating and even take away your motivation to keep exercising. So why aren't you reaching your goals? A limiting factor for many people is nutrition, not knowing what you should be putting in your body after a workout. Read this guide to see where you may be going wrong and how you can improve to finally reach your goals.
After a hard workout, your body is tired and in need of food to start the recovery process. Your muscles have been broken down and getting food into your system is essential for their repair. So you know you have to eat after exercise, but with so many options how do you know what to eat, or how much of it to eat? This guide to what to eat after working out will help you answer all those questions. Keep reading to find out our 5 recommendations.
What Happens To The Body During Exercise?
An intense workout is very taxing on your body and thus, you must make sure to eat after working out to replenish the systems with all the energy and nutrients it has lost. For the most part energy is stored in the form of glycogen in the liver and cells, specifically muscle cells. This is the energy that is used during exercise. The longer and more intensely you exercise for, the more these glycogen stores will get depleted causing fatigue. By the time your workout is complete, the glycogen stores that were once full are now partially depleted or even completely depleted depending on the duration of such workout.
The muscles you use during exercise are broken down with repeated use. If you don't get the right nutrition these muscles won't be able to recover properly and you leave yourself vulnerable to injury over time.
What To Eat Post-Workout?
With your glycogen stores depleted, it is important to fill them back up to expedite the recovery process. Post-exercise, the muscles absorb blood glucose and restore these glycogen stores at an accelerated rate if carbohydrates are eaten (or drunk) within 2 hours of finishing a workout. So for a short period of time, your body is absorbing these nutrients at an increased rate, creating the optimal time to have a post-workout snack or meal. After this time period is over, your body has a harder time recovering due to decreased absorption. So it is KEY to eat as quickly as you can after finishing your workout.
Within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, it is highly beneficial to consume a mixture of carbohydrates and protein. It is best to aim for around a 3:1 ratio, 3g of carbohydrates for 1g of protein, this ratio will ensure you get enough of both macronutrients. Carbs help refill the empty glycogen stores, while protein is critical for muscle recovery because it aids in muscle synthesis. Muscle synthesis is the key to hypertrophy (growth in muscle cells) helping you get stronger. You may be asking, what about the third macronutrient fats? The answer is simple, it is not essential to replace fats after exercise, and due to the slow rates of gastric emptying in fats they may also inhibit the absorption of carbohydrates and proteins.
5 Post-Workout Snacks
Now you know when you should eat and what it should consist of. Here is our 5 suggestions to add to your post-workout nutrition:
1. Chocolate Milk
I know what you're thinking, chocolate milk is for kids. Think again, chocolate milk is a great source of High GI carbs (fast absorption) and protein. The carb to protein ratio is around 4:1, so while not quite 3:1, it is still a great option to get a good source of both nutrients. Chocolate milk may be perfect for those who don't always have an appetite right after exercise because it allows you to get the nutrients you need very quickly without eating anything. If you don't have a lot of time, having a glass of chocolate milk within 30 minutes of exercise will start the recovery process off right.
2. Greek Yogurt with Granola
A more conventional option, Greek yogurt is a perfect post-workout snack that can be eaten quickly. Greek yogurt mixed with granola provides the body with the protein it needs to start muscle synthesis and recovery, as well as the carbs needed to replenish part of the lost glycogen. This is a great option that will have you ready for your next intense workout session. Feel free to add fresh fruit for some added nutrient-dense carbs.
For someone who wants a little more freedom with their post-workout meal a smoothie gives you many options to make it your own. Not only will a smoothie leave you feeling refreshed after exercise but it will also have all the nutrients needed to supercharge your recovery. Here is our list of ingredients to include in your smoothie, feel free to remove or add some to your liking: frozen fruit (about a cup), water, oats, peanut butter, flaxseed, and spinach. While not essential, whey protein powder can be a great addition to boost recovery. Again, you may add or take away items to your preference. Almond milk can be substituted for water.
4. Eggs with Toast
A simple but effective snack to help your recovery. Eggs are an excellent source of protein that will repair your broken down muscles. You can make them however you like, whether that's scrambled, hard-boiled, or into an omelet, giving you lots of variety. While whole-wheat toast will serve to fill the glycogen sources that are in desperate need of carbs to give you energy again. Can't go wrong with eggs and toast after your workout.
5. Chicken and Brown Rice
Bordering on meal territory, Chicken and Brown rice is a really good option after a workout. 50g of chicken breast has 13.5g of lean protein that will certainly help your body build muscle and help you reach your goals. Brown rice is a healthy alternative to white rice that provides the body with 45g of good carbohydrates per cup. These two are a fantastic combination to aid your body in its recovery after even the hardest of workouts.
There you have it, our 5 post-workout snack suggestions. However, there are many more options out there, explore the foods you like, and make them into your own.
Thank you, stay safe and let us know what you think!