What to Eat After Workout -Know about Your Post-Workout Meal
You can only reap the benefits of your workout if you are complimenting it with the right food and adequate rest. The workout regime that you perform requires proportion nutrition to fuel your muscles. The food that you consume after working out is extremely important since it will dictate how your body is going to respond to the demands of the exercise that you are performing.
When it comes to the right diet, the amount of information that is available to you online can sometimes be overwhelming. On top of that, we are certain that your friends and family also have their own suggestion on what you should eat. Therefore, to avoid all confusion and to give you a clear picture of what to eat after a workout, we have brought this guide for you. In addition to that, we are also going to tell you about the timing of your food intake, as in, how long should you wait after a workout to eat. So, let’s get straight into it.
Figuring out What to Eat After Workout
If you are into fitness, you need to understand how food intake affects your exercise regime. When you perform a physical activity in the form of a vigorous exercise, your muscle tissues get damaged, fluids and electrolytes are drained through sweat and glycogen (energy) is depleted.
The nutrition in the form of food that you intake after a workout helps in replenishing the lost muscles glycogen. Moreover, a proper meal would help stimulate protein synthesis, which would, in turn, help in building and repairing new muscle tissues as well as restoring electrolyte and overall fluid balance.
When your body goes through a vigorous activity such as workout, it starves for fuel, and that fuel is the nutrient you intake. If you starve yourself after a workout session, you will develop an imbalance physiological condition. There has to be a supplement of carbohydrates, proteins including dairy proteins, healthy fatty acids, and beneficial beverages.
A proper diet is a balanced diet and includes foods from all the aforementioned groups. But before we list out all the food items from each category, let us help you understand the timing of your food intake.
How Long Should You Wait to Eat After a Workout?
The duration that you need to wait after a workout to eat depends on the type of workout routine you are performing.
For instance, when you are under a light aerobic workout regime, your basic goal is essentially to stay in shape. Therefore, consuming a balanced diet one hour after the exercising is ideal.
When it comes to intense weight resistance workouts where the goal is to increase muscle size, we suggest you consume 30-40 gm of healthy carbohydrates and 20-30 gm of lean protein as close to your workout routine as possible.
On average, you should take your meal 45 minutes after your workout. However, if you have consumed a meal before exercising, the chances of the benefits of that meal retaining after the workout regime are still high.
So, if you want, you can take a bit of break between your workout and post-workout meal in that case. If not, then please follow the time guideline we have suggested. Remember, if you delay the supply of carb to your body by as little as two hours after finishing your workout, it may cause around 50% lower rates of glycogen synthesis.
Alright, now that you know the timing of your food consumption, let us focus on the real deal – the type of foods that you need to consume.
As we stated earlier, the glycogen stores in your body get diminished when you exercise. This is why you need to consume carbohydrates as they help replenish them.
The amount of carb that you eat is also dependent on the type of exercise you do. For instance, if your workout regime is focused more on endurance than resistance or strength-based training, then you would require more carb since endurance sports (swimming, running, cycling) depletes glycogen at a faster rate.
The post-workout meal that you take must have 0.5-0.7 grams of carbs per pound of your body weight. This should be taken within 30 minutes of the training in order to generate glycogen resynthesis.
The consumption of carb is even more essential for people who workout twice a day compared to those who take one or two days rest between their workout sessions.
Moreover, you need to remember that insulin secretion which is responsible for promoting glycogen synthesis is stimulated best when you intake carbs and proteins at the same time. The ratio should be 3:1 (carbs to protein). This means that if you are consuming 150 gm of carb, then you need to take 50 gm of protein.
Try to include the following carb foods in your meal after workout:
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain cereal
- Rice cakes
- Chia seed pudding
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
Exercise helps in breaking down muscle protein. The pace at which this happens is, of course, dependent on the level of training you are under.
Protein is required so that your body gets the amino acids it needs for repairing and building proteins. It also would contribute towards building the blocks that are needed to build new muscle tissues.
As per the amount of protein, try and consume 0.14-.023 gm of protein per pound of your body weight soon after the workout. It has been seen through various studies that the consumption of protein helps in maximizing the ability of the body to recover quickly and efficiently after exercise.
Try to include the following protein-rich foods in your meal after workout:
- Tofu scramble
- Plant or animal-based protein shake
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
Dairy products are also rich in protein and it is crucial that you include them in your post-workout meal. Studies have shown that even 9 gm of milk protein is enough for stimulating protein synthesis in your muscles, which help in you recovering from your exercise routine.
A single cup of low-fat kefir comprises of 9.2 gm of high-quality protein which helps in repairing muscle cells. When answering the question of what to eat after a workout, we recommend you include both soy and milk-based protein. This is because they would help you in building your muscle mass.
It should be also noted that milk-based protein helps you in supporting the effective growth of lean muscle mass.
Your post-meal workout should contain the following dairy products:
- Greek yoghurt
- Cottage cheese
- Ricotta cheese
Contrary to popular belief, your body needs fat. Of course, there is a distinction between health and unhealthy fat and you need to include the former in your meal after a workout.
Many people assume that if they consume fat, it will slow down their digestion and inhibit the proper absorption of nutrients. While it is somewhat true, you need to remember that fats won’t reduce the benefits of your nutrients.
Also, consuming high-fat meal after a workout session won’t affect the synthesis of your muscle glycogen. However, you must limit the amount of fat that you consume. Alright, with that being said, the foods that you should include in your post-meal workout are as follows:
- Flax seeds
- Coconut oil
- Nut butter
Next up in our list of what to eat after workout is the beverage section. In here, we suggest you include herbal tea since the chemical and nutrient compound present in them helps in the effective processing of carbohydrates and proteins.
Herbal tea would also help you in recovering your strength followed by a workout. Besides you can include coconut water as it is a great source of electrolytes. Sports drinks can also be taken as they help in replacing the water, sugar and electrolyte content that you have lost.
Some of the ideal options for beverages for your post-meal workout are as follows:
- Herbal tea
- Green tea
- Tart cherry juice
- Coconut water
- Sports drink
Last but not least, our list of what to eat after workout will be incomplete if we fail to mention this very important point.
Water, yes, it sounds basic, but its importance can’t be ignored. Staying hydrated before and after workout helps you in recovering from the day’s exercise as well as it would help you improve the next day’s performance.
A good way to assess whether you are consuming an adequate amount of water or not is through checking the colour of your urine. Transparent urine is healthy. However, when your urine is yellow in colour, it means that you are consuming less water.
You need to supply proper nutrient to your body so that it can reap the most benefit out of the workout sessions that you are doing. Be sure to include different types of food in your diet – carbohydrates, proteins, dairy products, healthy fats, beverages, and water in your post-meal workout. Remember, the answer to the question of what to eat after workout lies in the judicial selection of proper food source.