Let’s be real - you put a lot of effort into your workouts. It takes time and dedication to prioritize that time for yourself and to make the most out of it. You have probably given some thought to what you should eat pre-workout, more than your post-workout meal. But ahhh, that’s where you can differ from the rest. By consuming the right nutrients right after you exercise, you can make sure you're maximizing your time, energy and results. So, if you want to learn what to eat after a workout to lose weight or build muscle, read on.
Why is it beneficial to eat certain foods after working out?
More so than just learning about different foods, it is important to learn about what happens to your body when you exercise. When you’re working out, your muscles use up their glycogen stored for fuel. This makes it so your muscles are partially depleted of glycogen and that some of the proteins in your muscles get broken down or damaged. This is where eating becomes major post-exercise. Along with the deep breathing and sweat rolling down your face, your body is trying to rebuild its glycogen stores, and repair and regrow your muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients shortly after you exercise can help your body do this faster and more efficiently. Certain foods aid your recovery better than others.
What to eat after a workout?
Post-workout is ideal for focusing on carbs and protein. No need to fear carbs as long as you’re feeding yourself quality carbs that can do more for you. When eating these foods, you decrease muscle protein breakdown, increase muscle synthesis aka. muscle growth, restore glycogen, and enhance recovery. Bottom line: You gotta feed yourself right in order to look good and feel better.
You can find carbs in just about everything. But remember, not all carbs are the same. It’s not to say one type of carb is “bad” and one is “good”; however, there are some carbs that are best to prioritize as they are high quality. How does that sound? Some carbs can be found in sugary food along with anything that grows out of the ground aka. fruits, veggies, and grains.
All carbs have the ability to help you refuel, but some work better and faster than others. If we’re thinking in terms of recovery, after strength or weight training, for example, simple carbs (such as white rice and sugars) can help get that glucose to your muscles more quickly. On the flip side, complex carbs can provide more long-lasting energy.
Some of the best things to eat post-workout for solid nutrition and faster replenishment are:
- Bread (yes, we said it)
- White rice
Some of our carb-y favorites include:
- Chia seed pudding
- Rice cakes
- Sweet potatoes
To get into the nitty-gritty of it all, consuming .5-.7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight within 30 minutes after training can help in proper glycogen resynthesis, states the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Here comes the protein. We all have different dietary restrictions and beliefs. And despite what you may think, you can still obtain the nutrients you need from a variety of different kinds of diets. The best proteins for recovery are complete proteins that supply all essential amino acids at once - yes, these include animal-based and plant-based options (and everything in between). Dairy may also have unique benefits and sources of high levels of complete protein that can be associated with muscle recovery and gain.
With protein, there are also slow and quick release proteins to consider. Slow-release proteins supply small amounts of amino acids over an extended period after consumption. Quick-release proteins do the exact opposite. Both types of protein can supply an immediate dose of amino acids to the muscles after exercise and aid in supporting recovery over longer periods. Studies have shown that digesting 20-40 grams of protein shortly after a workout seems to maximize the body’s ability to recover. When you consume an adequate amount of protein after a workout, your body has the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. These are the building blocks to new muscle tissue.
Some of the top complete protein options are:
- Cottage cheese
- Protein shake
- Peanut butter
- Protein shake
- Tofu scramble
Check it out here for our go-to protein shakes! We also recommend doing a whole grain high fiber wrap with some avo, protein of choice, greens, beans, or whatever goes with the vibe of your wrap! It’s a great way to get some nutrients without going overboard.
*Insert SVU music here: dun dun*. Many people think that eating fat after a workout puts a slow down effect on digestion and prevents absorption of nutrients. It may slow down the absorption of the post-workout meal, but it will not reduce the benefits. For example, studies show that whole milk is more effective when it comes to promoting muscle growth than skim milk. Healthy fats, especially omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatories that are great for post-workout.
- Avocado (SAY IT LOUD)
- Nuts and nut butter
- Red meat (within reason)
- Olive oil
While the above fats are ideal, here is a list of fats that you may want to consider staying away from after an intense workout:
- Packaged desserts
Seems reasonable, yeah?
Does the anabolic window exist? There has been an extensive amount of debate around whether or not there is a time limit on optimal post-workout recovery. Granted, it definitely matters to keep your fitness goals, overall nutrition intake, and level of training into consideration when trying to figure this timing out. Based on current research, recovery should be emphasized from immediately following workout to within 2 hours maximum. The sweet spot of 20 minutes to 1 hour is typically the most commonly suggested.
There’s a lot of information and a lot of different snacks and recipes out there. Try some out and see what works best for your body. Some recommendations may be:
- Brown rice and chicken breast with some vegetables
- Egg scramble - toss your favorite spices in with some eggs/egg whites, veggies and sweet potatoes
- Slice of whole-grain toast, peanut butter with a drizzle of honey
- Greek yogurt with ½ cup fruit
- Pita with turkey meat and hummus
Join The BXNG Club For An Exhilarating Fitness Experience
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April 09, 2021