After a workout, whether it is a high-intensity session or not, it is important that we follow the right steps to take care of the body as much as during the actual exercise. Nutritious eating after training helps your body maximise the benefits that are gained from exercise, which means that you are making the most of the exercise you’ve just done – and you can get even stronger and faster just by eating right!
Here we’ve gathered more information on how food can help you recover after a workout and the right kinds of food to eat.
Why is it important to eat after a workout?
During exercise, muscle is broken down. Your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores as well as repair and regrow those muscle proteins. We burn a lot of nutrients during exercise—nutrients that we need to replenish to continue to build strength and fitness. The foods consumed afterward can aid in tissue repair, as well as rebuilding and strengthening muscle. If you’re training hard and want to get stronger, recovery eating is an essential part of your routine—helping your body adapt to conditioning demands and getting you ready for the next round.
Protein to restore muscle tissues
Your body’s number one priority after a workout is to replenish energy stores like electrolytes. Made up of amino acids, protein is needed by your body to repair muscle damage. You'll want to consume 20-40 grams of high-quality lean protein after a workout to maximise protein synthesis, repair muscles and enhance muscle growth. Consuming the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster.
Why do you need to eat carbohydrates after an exercise?
Training sessions cause the glycogen stores in your body to be reduced, so your body won't have enough energy to start the recovery process unless you refuel those stores.
Carbohydrates are responsible for providing your body with the right amount of glycogen supply, which is the body's primary source of fuel, so you may want to think again if you're on a low-carb diet - especially if you perform high-intensity workouts more than one day a week.
A post-workout snack or meal that is high in carbohydrates provides energy and gives your muscles time to rebuild. Without this boost, your body will convert fat, followed by protein from the muscle tissues to usable energy, which means that your recovery will take even longer. The takeaway here is that carbohydrates are good for you!
When and what you should eat after a workout
Exercise causes your body to lose fluids and important vitamins and minerals, especially if you sweat a lot. First,it’s important to assess and know your nutrient needs based on your level of exercise but whole foods are ultimately the best source of nutrition. Regardless of the time of day you exercise, it’s important to eat a healthy snack or meal that contains a combination of protein and carbohydrates.
For fastest recovery, eat within an hour right after finishing your workout. If you can’t grab a snack right away, eat within two hours. Hydrating your body correctly afterwards is also great in order to recover from a workout. Water is a great rehydrating option, and according to the Mayo Clinic, you should be drinking about two or three cups of water for everykilolost during exercise. Water is often sufficient, but sports drinks containing electrolytes and carbohydrates can help replenish what the body has used up during the workout, especially those lasting over 60 minutes.
High protein snacks like protein balls or protein bars are a great option for post-workout fuel especially if you’re in a hurry, but when you have a bit of extra time it’s better to have a full-on meal instead.
A few of the best healthy foods to include on the list are:
Consuming foods like these that are rich in protein and carbohydrates will no doubt quicken your body’s recovery process. Not only do the aid in increasing muscle build, but also improve immunity, build better bone mass, improve utilization of body fat, and generate less muscle soreness.
So, try not to skip your post-workout meal or snack, as doing so habitually can end up sabotaging fitness goals that you’ve worked so hard to attain. While skipping an occasional post-workout meal won’t harm you, developing healthy post-workout habits will help prevent sports injuries and keep you on track toward your health and fitness goals. Remember, protein and carbohydrates are your best friends!