Just as fueling your body with adequate nutrients before a workout is important, fueling your body with nutrients after a workout is also important. When you finish exercising do you struggle with knowing what to eat as a snack or meal afterward? Do you stand in the fridge for long periods of time hoping something healthy will jump out at you? It can be difficult to know how to direct your meal routine post-workout.
However, what you eat after exercising is just as important as the workout routine you choose to participate in. We hope this article will assist you in knowing what to eat after a workout.
What Nutrients Should I Eat After Working Out?
When choosing what and when to eat, there are many factors to consider, and these factors will likely differ depending upon the person. However, whether it is a protein shake, oatmeal with peanut butter, or lean meat with veggies, your body needs adequate nutrients to support muscle build and growth, provide energy, re-supply lost fluids, and prepare your body for future exercise.
Refueling your body after a workout is not about eating one specific food group. Instead, it involves a combination of carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals, and in some cases, a small quantity of fat. This combination depends upon the intensity and length of the exercise.
What I Should Know About Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates work by re-supplying energy to our bodies post-exercise. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which then moves in the body to provide fuel for the organs, especially the brain. Because glucose is used in greater quantities during resistance training, higher amounts of this macronutrient are especially important for longer endurance activities such as biking, jogging, swimming, or rowing with the Ski-Row Air or the Ski-Row Air + PWR machines.
Consuming a healthy carb source, such as whole-grain bread or cereal, yogurt, a banana, or oatmeal 30 minutes post-exercise will assist in resupplying the body with the proper amount of glycogen and, therefore, energy. It is important to be aware of the kind of carbs being consumed.
Eating carbs that are fried, high in sugar, or highly processed may leave you feeling sluggish and tired post-workout instead of fueled and energized. Below are some suggestions for healthy carbs to consume post-workout.
What Are Some Post-Workout Carbohydrate Food Suggestions?
- Chia seed pudding
- Whole grain bread
- Sweet potatoes
- Rice cakes
- Berries, apples, bananas
- Brown rice
- Granola bars
What Part Does Protein Play in Muscular Health?
Since exercise causes the breakdown of muscle protein, eating a protein source post-workout is extremely important. Protein assists in the repair of muscle breakdown and supplies amino acids to build additional muscle tissue. Muscle protein breakdown occurs based on the rate and intensity of exercise, and this, in turn, determines the amount of protein that should be consumed after exercise.
The intake of protein is recommended shortly after working out to start this repair and rebuilding process. Some examples of high protein foods are included below. Just as with carbohydrates, review food labels to know what ingredients are in each protein source! Avoid foods that will leave you feeling weak and lacking energy post-workout.
What Are Some Protein Post-Workout Snack Suggestions?
- Cottage cheese
- Chocolate milk
- Greek yogurt
- Turkey or chicken
- Salmon or tuna
- Peanut butter
- Protein shake with whey protein
- Tofu scramble
Do Fats Help With Overall Recovery in the Body?
The benefit of fat after exercise is not fully understood. While fat was thought to reduce the absorption of a post-workout meal, it was also shown to have no effect on the overall benefits of the meal. Reducing the amount of fat after exercise is recommended overall; however, a small amount of healthy unsaturated fats will not significantly affect recovery. Check the list of suggested monounsaturated fats to see which ones are best to eat post-workout.
What Are Some Fat Post-Workout Food Suggestions?
- Coconut oil
- Flax seeds
- Nut butters
Hydration - Do Not Forget This Post-Workout!
While water is the most critical fluid to replenish lost fluids during exercise, long periods of intense exercise may require additional fluids for replenishment, nutrients, and electrolytes. Some examples include chocolate milk, coconut water, tart juices, black and green teas, and even beer, in some cases. There are many benefits of these drinks.
- Chocolate milk provides electrolytes, high amounts of water, and carbs to increase lost glucose.
- Coconut water provides potassium and magnesium, nutrients, and antioxidants.
- Tart juices soothe muscle tension, and supports muscular health.
- Teas work to oxidize fats increase the overall comfort and strength of muscles.
- Beer might sound strange to you; however, following a workout, this drink can soothe muscles, increase fluid levels, and provide carbs and electrolytes.
How Should I Time My Post-Workout Meals?
While the timing of post-workout nutrition is not completely understood, it is recommended to consume post-workout nutrition anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours after exercise. This timing may differ depending on what was consumed prior to the workout. For example, if a pre-workout nutritious meal was consumed within an hour of working out, the effects of these nutrients are likely to continue after the workout is complete.
Summing It Up
While there is some debate regarding the consumption of fats post-workout, the combination of protein and carbs is recommended to assist the body in overall recovery and health. Many food items can be chosen containing carbs and proteins, such as protein bars, a peanut butter sandwich, or a yogurt parfait. Balance is a vital part of our overall diets, and as we have seen, our bodies thrive off of a combination of healthy and nutritious macronutrients.
While these suggestions give a basic guideline about what and when to eat post-workout, it is important to remember that each person is different. You should figure out what works best for you and your overall health.
What foods allow you to function the best? What foods give you the most energy? What foods supply your body with the proper fuel for the remainder of your day? Figuring this out can take some time, so be patient with yourself and pay attention to what makes your body feel the best post-workout.