You’ve heard that exercise is important but nutrition does 80% of the job. If you are giving it all in the gym but your nutrition is not on point, then you’re wasting opportunity of all the results you could be getting. In this article we dive into your post-workout nutrition.
What to eat after workout?
A good post-workout meal is key for regeneration, as a good intense training breaks muscle tissue, makes you sweat and lose water, and also depletes you from important nutrients such as glucose (the fuel that most tissues in your body use). Because of the pressure put in the body during a workout the body will react as if it had suffered an injury, meaning that it will show symptoms of acute inflammation, resulting in what we know as “muscle fever”.
Just like with most injuries, the body needs to be provided with the right help in order to recover and regenerate from the damage caused by the exercise.
The body breaks down most carbohydrates into glucose, an essential nutrient for red cells in the blood, to later be used as a source of energy for the body to function. Naturally, during a heavy weightlifting session or any intense workout that is hard on the muscle tissues, the body uses all the reserves of glucose as energy but once the training finishes, the muscles will need more of that energy in order to recover and work on rebuilding the tissue that has been damaged.
People aiming to lose weight tend to make the mistake of skipping carbs on their diets, without knowing that eating health carbs is an important part of any meal plan, and they should be adjusted but not removed from our daily nutrient intake.
Post-workout carbohydrates can also be taken in the form of supplements; Carbox is a drink powder combining five forms of slow, moderate and fast absorbing carbs and, due to the varied absorption rates, it is an excellent choice to keep your body fueled at different times.
This macronutrient is essential to maintain and build muscle mass. No matter if your goal is to build muscle or to lose weight, nourishing the muscle is important for a lean and well-toned body.
Previously we have said that exercise causes damage to the body, but we don’t mean it as in a negative damage or that exercising is bad for your health. It is expressed as damage because the heavy weights and intense trainings cause muscle fibers to break and suffer micro tears, which then use protein to heal and grow to adapt in order to tolerate the heavy loads. This is how muscle and strength are built.
A protein shake is an excellent alternative as it gives the amount of protein needed and can easily be absorbed by the body for it to start recovering with the right nutrients right after the workout. You can also add the unflavored version of Carbox to your protein shake to make an outstanding recovery drink.
Fat is not something you need to replenish after a workout, especially as your body already has fat stored and one gym session won’t simply burn it all at once. Fat burning is a result of constant calorie deficit, not just the workouts, so fat intake isn’t something you need to stress about after training. Simply keep a consistent fat intake according to your meal plan and the percentage of fats you must eat depending on what your fitness goals are.
The timing of post-workout meals – when to eat after training?
To talk about the best timing to eat after training, we need to dive first into the anabolic window of opportunity, often known also as the “metabolic window” or the “protein window”. This window is a theory commonly known in the fitness industry as the time after your training when the muscles could take more benefit of the nutrients you consume in order to recover and grow.
The anabolic window is believed to be the first 30 minutes after your workout, a critical time for increasing protein synthesis, reducing muscle protein breakdown and refilling the muscle glucose mentioned previously.
Why is this window important? Because during the first 30 minutes, your blood flow is still accelerated in order to deliver nutrients to the body as consequence of the workout, a great opportunity to jump on the train and try to take advantage of it by providing the carbohydrates and proteins needed. That is why most people consume protein shakes right after their workout.
It is also important to highlight that more research is needed and the “30 minute” rule is often extended to 1 hour depending on the source, but quality nutrition is without a doubt the center of any fitness goal, therefore it is more important to know what will be on your plate than when will be served. No matter the time you’ll take to have your first meal, just make sure to have the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats from quality sources throughout your day.
5 Sample post-workout meals for maximum recovery
1. Whole grain toast with peanut butter: Pairing up peanut butter with grain toast is a fantastic dose of protein and carbohydrates and health fats, making it not only a perfect post-workout meal, but also a very fast convenient alternative.
2. Protein shake and banana: Protein shakes like 100% Pure Whey are designed to give you the protein needed to rebuild muscle tissue, while the banana is an excellent source of carbohydrates.
3. Grilled chicken with salad: Chicken is one of the best animal sources of protein, as it is lean meat with high protein and low fat content. A salad with varied vegetables will also provide extra nutrients without the extra calories, ideal for people who are aiming to lose weight. As a dressing, use Zero Sauce to add flavor; it is sugar, lactose and gluten free.
4. Vegan quinoa with vegetables and nuts: This salad is packed with plant-based protein and it makes a perfect post-workout meals if you are following a vegan or keto diet. If you are trying to lose weight, is helps reducing the amount of carbs, but increasing the amount of healthy fats.
5. Scrambled eggs and rice crackers: Eggs are by far one of the best sources of protein and what is considered a super food so adding them to any diet is recommended. On top of that, rice crackers are a clean source of carbohydrates.
Check 10 more fitness recipes for those who lead a healthy lifestyle here.