Knowing the right post-workout food to eat will greatly benefit you in terms of overall fitness and health.
In this article:
- How is Post-Workout Nutrition Beneficial to One’s Overall Fitness and Health?
- Why is Eating the Right Post-Workout Food So Important?
- Carbohydrates After Working Out?
- Don’t Forget the Fats
- Timing Your Post-Workout Meals
Post-Workout Nutrition | Its Benefits to Overall Fitness and Health
How is Post-Workout Nutrition Beneficial to One’s Overall Fitness and Health?
Post-workout nutrition is more important than many athletes realize. As important as pre-workout food is, it is also crucial to turn your attention to what you eat after working out. Post-workout meal planning is essential to help you get the most benefit from your workout.
Why is Eating the Right Post-Workout Food So Important?
During your workout, your body begins the process of proteolysis, or the breaking down muscle proteins. That process intensifies during the three hours after your workout. The post-workout food choices that are best for you are ones that accomplish the following two things:
- Minimize the breakdown of muscles post-workout.
- Stimulate protein synthesis to promote muscle growth.
Protein eaten at any time is essential for promoting muscle growth. Protein consumed post-workout packs a little more power in that muscle-boosting punch.
How much of a boost does it give?
According to a study, post-workout infusions of amino acids yielded 30 to 100 percent more protein synthesis than the same infusions administered while subjects were at rest.
That means that the right source of protein is essential post-workout food if you’re hoping to build muscle, even if lean muscle production is your goal.
What kinds of protein are best after working out?
The beautiful thing about protein is that there are so many options for getting quality protein – even on the go. These are some of the foods to consider for your after workout meal:
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Protein bars
You can even use animal or plant-based protein powders to make smoothies for a quick boost of nutrient-rich, protein-packed energy after working out.
How much protein do you need to consume after a workout?
While the age old rule of thumb has been to consume a minimum of 20 grams of protein in after workout meals, modern wisdom shines new light on the subject.
This new information reveals that different people require different amounts of protein to optimize protein synthesis. Many experts now recommend between 40 and 50 grams of protein post-workout to achieve maximum protein synthesis.
Carbohydrates After Working Out?
With so much controversy over carbohydrates, it seems like this would be a taboo topic when it comes to effective post-workout foods. The truth is carbs help replenish depleted glycogen stores. Your body burns glycogen to fuel your workout. Carbs help to restore balance.
Not all workouts require as much help in restoring these depleted reserves. For instance, endurance sports and activities (running, swimming, cycling, etc.) need more compared to body building or resistance training.
Note: It is more important for people who engage in exercise more frequently (such as twice in the same day without days of rest between workouts) than for people who workout more sporadically.
For those who require the replenishment of glycogen stores, however, the general rule of thumb is to follow a carb to protein ratio of 3:1. This indicates three grams of carbs for every one gram of protein. Consuming the right carbs and proteins together stimulates insulin secretion which promotes optimal glycogen synthesis.
Also, consume this carb to protein mixture within 30 minutes of training to achieve the proper synthesis of glycogen.
Among the best post-workout carbs to consider are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Chocolate milk
- Rice cakes
- Leafy green vegetables (the darker varieties)
These carbs are easily digestible and simple to prepare making them excellent choices for post-workout fuel.
Don’t Forget the Fats
Fat is often maligned today. However, fat is an essential component of a healthy diet. The thing to remember is that there are good fats and bad fats. Healthy fats to include in a well-rounded post-workout meal plan include:
- Nut butters
- Coconut oils
- Fatty fish (like salmon)
The key is moderation and discretion when consuming fats after working out and at any other time. Focusing on healthy fats allows you to enjoy the benefits without many of the risks associated with unhealthy varieties of fats.
Timing Your Post-Workout Meals
Timing is everything when it comes to maximizing the impact of a good after workout meal. While some suggest eating within 30 minutes of working out, there are others who suggest you may have up to 45 minutes after you finish exercising to enjoy the benefits.
Ultimately, the sooner you begin restoring your body’s depleted stores, the better. That means that preparing meals ahead of time is your best bet or consider portable meals as part of your post-workout routine.
Watch the video below to learn more about carbs and the best time to consume them:
Whether you’re looking to get fit or build serious muscle, the foods you eat after working out are just as important as those you eat before your workout for helping you accomplish your goals. This guide should help you identify the best foods to eat after a workout for the results you want.
What other post-workout foods have helped you keep fit and healthy? Share some of them with us in the comments section below.