What is post-workout nutrition?
The post workout meal (the meal you eat after a workout) is probably the most important meal of the day for anyone who cares about nutrition or wants to build muscle, lose fat or improve their body. “Your workout is not complete until you eat,” says Emily Edison, a registered dietitian.
Though, some people are confused on what to actually consume and when to actually consume post-workout food.
Searching for recipes online, a lot will be suggested and recommended, but, what does your body really need? To answer that, you need to understand your body and how does post-work out meal works and what does it do for your body.
So, why is it important to eat after exercising?
According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the main point of eating after working out is replenishing glycogen stores. “Glycogen is one of the primary fuels for muscular contraction. Just 3 sets of 12 reps can almost cut your glycogen stores in half,” says Jeff Barnett, strength and conditioning affiliate. Refueling lost glycogen is critical to the rest of your day to your next training session.
What nutrients do you need to replenish?
Contrary to popular belief, protein isn’t the star of the show, says Tristaca Caldwell, a registered dietitian, ‘Protein really only becomes important for high-interval training or weight training.’
The two things we direly need most after physical activity are fluid and carbohydrates.
‘The point of recovery nutrition is to replace the fuels that you used,’ says Caldwell. ‘Your body gets very good at knowing if those fuels are going to be replaced quickly. If they are, your body is more likely to let go of all its stores.’
It is important that majority part of your post workout meal is carbs. Carbs will be used by your body to restore muscle glycogen that was depleted and lost after you exercised.
Most people should look to consume somewhere between 0.25-0.4 grams of carbs per pound of their body weight , considering your target body weight, not your current weight, in making this calculation.
For fluid, check your sweat rate: weigh yourself before and after exercise, and drink 1.5 liters for every lost kilogram.
How soon should we eat after working out?
It is recommended to eat pretty much as soon as you can. If possible, within 30 minutes would be even better.
‘It’s important to get fluid and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of exercising. That’s when your body is most able to use these nutrients,’ says Caldwell. Eating soon after a workout is important, but just because you are putting the food into your body quickly doesn’t actually mean the food is being digested and absorbed by your body equally as quick.
However, there is this “window of time” that exists after your workout during which it would be the most beneficial for your body to receive its post workout nutrition.
Here are some sample post-work out snacks and smoothies recipes, as recommended and suggested by nutritionists and dietitians:
- 1 cup of chocolate milk
- Vanilla soy protein + low fat milk + banana + mixed berries
- Spinach + mango + carrots + coconut water + orange juice + yogurt
Snack some more:
- 2 hard boiled eggs with a slice of whole wheat toast
- 2 graham crackers + tablespoon of peanut butter
Make it a meal:
- 7-inch round whole wheat pita +s grilled veggies + 2 tablespoons hummus
- Veggie omelet + avocado + ½ cup of roasted potatoes
- 4-ounces of steamed trout with a baked sweet potato and sautéed spinach
TIPS AND REMINDERS:
- Don’t overcompensate! Unless you’re trying to gain weight, still watch what you eat.
- Skip the energy drinks, sugary smoothies and sweet bars! They are just full of sugar.
- Go under 150! Try to keep your meals 150 calories at most.
- Athletes eat more protein because they are building muscle.
- Rehydrate ASAP! The amount of water you lose every workout routine is essential to be replaced as soon as you can!