Post Workout Meal: What To Eat After a Workout
After an intense workout, your body needs to be nourished in order to repair muscles and stabilize your blood sugar level. This is also the best time to consume nutrient-packed foods because the body will absorb them quickly into your system. The question that needs to be answered is what to eat after a workout. Consuming the right foods is important but you also have to understand why you need these types of food after working out.
After finishing your workout, your muscles have used up its glycogen stores for fuel. This results in your muscles being depleted of glycogen. The proteins in your muscles are also depleted and broken down. While you are resting and trying to recuperate from your workout, your body is rebuilding its glycogen stores and repairing the damaged muscles. If you eat the right nutrients, you are helping your body regrow the muscles and recuperate much faster. Your post workout meal should restore glycogen stores, increase muscle protein growth, enhance recovery, and decrease muscle protein breakdown.
Post Workout Nutrition – What Does It Mean?
Your post-workout nutrition should consist of three important macronutrients – protein, carbs, and fat. These three nutrients are very much involved in the process of repairing and recovery of your muscles. A post workout meal should always have high levels of protein, carbs, and fat.
When you exercise, it triggers the breakdown of proteins, so you need to replenish them immediately. Usually, the rate of protein breakdown depends on the intensity of your workout. Consuming protein-rich foods is essential after a workout to give your body enough amino acids to rebuild new muscle tissues and repair the damaged ones. Studies show that consuming 20 to 40 grams of protein after a workout is enough to help the body recover.
Consuming carbs after a workout can replenish your body’s glycogen. You need more carbs, especially if you are focusing on endurance training such as running or swimming. It is recommended to consume 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight within 30 minutes after your workout or training. This will result in a more optimized glycogen synthesis. If you exercise twice a day, it is even more vital to eat plenty of carbs in order to rebuild your glycogen stores.
When fats are mentioned, most people think that it can be damaging to your body. Having some fat in your post workout meal will not affect your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. A study showed that whole milk is more effective in promoting muscle growth after a workout than drinking skims milk. Even consuming high-fat meal will not affect your muscle glycogen synthesis after a workout. Top 25 Healthy Fat Foods
What To Eat After a Workout – 30 Best Foods
What to eat after a workout? Eating nutritious food rich in protein, carbs, and healthy fats are the key to improving your muscle recovery and boosting your metabolism. You have to eat within an hour after finishing your workout in order for your muscles to absorb all the nutrients efficiently. Here are 30 of the best post workout meal or foods that you should try after your intense exercise.
1Almonds and Oranges
Almonds are rich in protein and healthy fats, which is vital in rebuilding your muscles. Nuts can also curb your appetite so you won’t feel too hungry after your workout. Oranges contain high levels of carbs, vitamin C, and fluids for hydration. The combination of almonds and oranges give you the complete nutrition you need after your workout.
2Whole Wheat Wrap Turkey with Veggies
The whole wheat wrap and veggies are rich in fiber, while the turkey contains a lot of proteins, which makes it a great post workout meal.
3Avocado, Berries and Protein Powder Smoothie
Avocados help you feel fuller and less hungry, while the berries are rich in antioxidants to keep your body healthy and fit. Adding a scoop of your favorite protein powder makes this smoothie a complete and nutritious post-workout drink. You can also replace your protein powder with Greek yogurt, which contains 11 grams of protein per cup.
Salmon is rich in omega-3, which lessens muscle inflammation and soreness caused by your intense workout. It also contains healthy fats that can help burn excess fats. Add celery and grapes to your Salmon to get more carbs and fiber.
5Eggs with Black Beans and Bell Peppers
Eggs are packed with protein, which can also help prevent overeating for the rest of the day. Black beans provide the carbs, while the bell pepper adds vitamin C to your post workout meal.
Quinoa is an ideal post-workout food because it is rich in fiber and proteins. It is more nutritious than brown rice and it is much easier to prepare.
Instead of drinking any sports drink, you can try a glass of fresh orange juice after your workout. Orange juice contains more potassium than your usual sports drink. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps the body restores its fluid levels.
Kefir is fermented milk made from probiotic bacteria. One cup of Kefir contains 11 grams of proteins that are essential for building lean muscles and aid in weight loss. In order to make it more tasteful, you can add fruits, cereals, or whey protein.
Bananas provide the needed carbs to restore your glycogen level, and it is also rich in potassium.
This wonder fruit is very rich in antioxidants that keep your immune system strong. Studies have shown that blueberries can triple your recovery rate after your intense workout.
11Whole Grain Pita and Hummus
Hummus is made from chickpeas, which are very rich in protein and carbs. The whole grain pita will help keep your energy levels up after your workout.
12Dried Fruit and Nuts
If you don’t have the time to whip up a post workout meal, you can just grab these healthy dried fruits and nuts for quick carbs and protein fix. Nuts are rich in proteins to help rebuild your muscles after a workout.
Pineapples are rich in bromelain, which is a natural anti-inflammatory that heals swelling, sprains, and bruises. It is also a good source of vitamin C, which is vital in repairing damaged tissues after your workout.
14 Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are known for providing high contents of carbs, but it is also rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, C, D, potassium, and magnesium. All these nutrients are important in rebuilding your muscles and rejuvenating your body after an intense workout.
If you want a healthy dose of vitamin C and potassium, you need to eat more Kiwi. They are also rich in antioxidants that can help treat your muscle soreness after your workout. When eating Kiwi, it is recommended to consume the skin because it is full of nutrients. Aside from all the nutrients, Kiwi is rich in fluids that help keep you hydrated.
This is probably the most obvious one on this list, but there are still some people who forget to hydrate after doing their daily workout routine. Water can help keep your energy up, and you also have to replace all the fluids you’ve lost. It is recommended to drink 2 to 3 glasses of water after your workout.
17Grilled Chicken and Mixed Vegetables
Chicken is rich in lean protein and carbs to help your body recover after an intense workout. Chicken is also great for filling you up without making you feel bloated. You can add mixed vegetables drizzled with olive oil to gain more nutrients from your post workout meal.
18Veggie Omelet with Avocado
You already know that eggs are a rich source of protein for muscle recovery, but pairing it with avocado and veggies can really make it a complete post workout meal. Avocado is rich in fiber and monounsaturated fats that help your body absorb the vitamins and minerals coming from the veggies. The veggies will provide the needed antioxidants and vitamins to complete your healthy meal.
19Whole Wheat Tuna, Hummus, and Spinach Sandwich
You can fix yourself a healthier post workout sandwich using tuna, hummus, and spinach as your main ingredients. Tuna is low in calories but very rich in proteins and carbs, while hummus is high in fiber. The role of the spinach is to curb your appetite, improve your complexion, treat inflammation, and lower your blood pressure. Combining all of these ingredients will give you the key nutrients you need to recover from an intense workout.
Chocolate milk is becoming a very popular post workout drink because of its complete nutritional benefit. One glass provides a healthy dose of proteins and carbs the help in your muscle recovery. It contains calcium, sugar, and sodium, which helps your body recover much faster. Chocolate milk regains your lost energy and it also replaces the fluids you’ve lost as sweat during your workout.
21 Green Tea
Green tea is a perfect energy booster, especially after your workout when you need to recover your lost energy. It contains powerful antioxidants that can fight free radicals that cause inflammation and muscle pains or soreness. It also helps boost your metabolism to burn more fats. You can infuse your green tea with ginger and prepare it before you go to the gym.
22Peanut and Caramel Protein Bar
This looks and tastes like a candy bar, but it is far healthier and beneficial to your workout. These are called protein bars because they are mostly made up of peanuts, which have high levels of protein.
23Apple Cheese Crackers
These are simple and easy to make. You just cut up the apples and cheese and put them on top of your crackers. You can skip the sugar to make it healthier. It will also help you keep feeling fuller after your workout so you can avoid overeating.
24Spinach and Egg Omelet
This meal combines the proteins of egg and the nutrients of spinach to help your body re-energize and recuperate from your intense workout. This is a great meal any time of the day, and it is also easy to prepare.
25Fresh Strawberries, Cottage Cheese, and Whole-Wheat Cereal Parfait
Cottage cheese is low calorie, which is perfect for this meal. The cereal and strawberry provide complete nutrition to keep you going after your workout. This is also a very delicious dessert.
This is a great breakfast meal, especially if you do your workouts in the morning. They are the best source of protein to keep you energized. Pick the ones without any artificial sweeteners.
27Orange Mango Smoothie
This is a sweet smoothie without the added sweeteners. The sweetness of the mango, combined with orange makes a delicious smoothie.
28Avocado Tuna Salad
This is a protein-packed meal that you can eat for lunch, dinner, or a post-workout snack.
29Sweet Potato Protein Bar
This is a great post workout food because it is gluten-free, and it only takes 20 minutes to make one batch of these sweet potato protein bars.
The best thing about rice cakes is that you can put any healthy toppings you want. For your post-workout rice cake, you can try topping it with banana, nut butter, and cacao nibs.
Best Foods To Eat After A Workout
What NOT To Eat After a Workout
After an intense workout, your body loses energy and it needs to recharge. There is a natural craving for food in order to recuperate. Most people want to satisfy this hunger by choosing the wrong foods, with the wrong ingredients that are not beneficial for the body. Some foods can even negate the efforts you did during your workout. Here are the foods that you should avoid eating after your training or exercise.
Raw vegetables such as broccoli, celery, and carrots might be a good option when you are losing weight because it has low calories, but they simply are not substantial enough to re-energize your body after your workout. If you want to incorporate raw vegetables into your post workout meal, just add some protein-packed dips like yogurt dip, hummus, or nut butter. Avoid dips that have high-fat content.
Fast foods like burger, fries, soft drinks, hot dogs, and nachos are very tempting, especially after working out. However, these foods should be avoided because they can only erase the progress you’ve already made in your workout. Fast foods are full of fats that can slow down your digestion, which is what you don’t want to happen after your workout.
If you’ve noticed on the list of the best post workout meals above, you will find that some of the foods are high in potassium. Salty snacks can lower your potassium level, which is the reason why you need to avoid them. Potassium is an important electrolyte that improves your cell function. Since you lose a lot of electrolyte during your workout, you don’t need salty snacks to further deplete your potassium level.
Most pizzas are full of grease and fat, especially if the toppings are sausages or pepperoni. Just one slice can cancel out the hard work you’ve made during your training. If you’re craving for a cheesy snack, you can replace pizza with whole-wheat English muffin with cheese.
Bacon is a great breakfast food at the start of the day since you have the whole day to burn those calories. However, eating bacon after your workout is not very ideal. Bacon is high in sodium and it is slow to metabolize after your workout. If you want more protein, you can try eggs instead.
Soda and Fruit Drinks
Working out can make you really thirsty, and it is very tempting to drink soda and sugary fruit drinks afterward. Whether you are drinking soda, sugary drinks, or fruit juices filled with fructose, you are not helping your body recuperate from your intense workout. These sweetened beverages are high in sugar and they can slow down your metabolism. If you want a little bit of flavor in your drink, you can choose a sports drink that can replace the lost electrolytes in your body. Water is still the best choice when you want to quench your thirst.
Doughnuts and Pastries
You might say that doughnuts and pastries are high in carbs, therefore they are good to eat after your workout. However, doughnuts and pastries are also full of sugars and sweeteners, which are all fattening and do not have enough nutrients. If you want to fill up on carbs, you can go for a bagel, whole wheat toast, or fruit preserves.
When Is the Right Time to Eat After Working Out
It is normal to feel tired and hungry after an intense training or workout. You burn a lot of calories during your workout, which leaves you feeling tired and weak. Your body will make up for the lost calories by triggering your hunger sensation. When you start to eat again, your body refuels your glycogen stores, stabilizes your blood sugar, and gives you a boost of energy.
So when is the best time to eat? You can wait 15 minutes after your exercise before you can eat a snack. Quickly replacing the glycogen stores in your body is important so that you can have a more sustainable energy to your body. Your snack must be rich in protein and carbohydrates, and just drink water instead of soda or fruit juices. You should drink 3 cups of water for every pound of water that you lost during your workout.
After the workout, you don’t need to eat a heavy meal immediately. A light snack is much preferred to keep your energy up. Remember to stay away from fatty foods and sugary foods. They are not only unhealthy but they can also make you feel lethargic and heavy.
5 Tips to Maximize Your Workouts
It makes a huge difference when you know the best foods to eat after working out. When to eat and what food to eat is a big part of your workout and training progress. Here are 5 helpful tips that you can follow in order to maximize your workouts.
Make Your Breakfast Healthier
Most people exercise in the morning, so if you are one of these people, it means you have to wake up early to fix yourself a hearty breakfast. In order to have enough energy, you need to eat your breakfast one hour before your workout. A breakfast rich in carbohydrates can improve your performance and allow you to exercise longer and with higher intensity. It is a bad idea to skip breakfast because it will make you feel sluggish and lightheaded when you exercise.
A good breakfast option when you are working out in the morning includes pancake, banana, whole-grain bread or cereals, low-fat milk, juice, and yogurt. One cup of coffee before your workout is okay, but don’t try any food you are not familiar with because it might just give you an upset stomach.
Don’t Eat Too Much Before Your Exercise
Here is a general guideline that you can follow regarding how much you should eat before working out:
- Large meals – 3 to 4 hours before exercising
- Small meals or snacks – 1 to 3 hours before exercising
Avoid eating too much if you plan on working out because it might just leave you feeling sluggish. However, eating too little might not give you enough energy to sustain your strength during a workout. Just eat the right amount that you think is enough to carry you through an intense workout.
Eat Your Snacks
There are some people who prefer eating snacks before and during a workout. When it comes to eating snacks, just do what you feel is right for you. Taking a snack right before your exercise will not give you added energy, but it can help suppress your appetite and hunger pangs. If you have longer workouts that are 60 minutes or more, you can include carbohydrate-rich foods or beverage during your workout.
Good snack options include banana, apple, yogurt, energy bar, fruit smoothie, low-fat granola bar, whole-grain bagel or crackers, peanut butter sandwich, and sports drink.
Eat After Your Workout
Eating after a workout can help your muscles recover and replenish its glycogen stores. Your post workout meal should include more proteins and carbohydrates and should be eaten within 2 hours after your workout if possible. A good post-workout food choice includes peanut butter sandwich, yogurt and fruit, low-fat chocolate milk and pretzels, post-workout smoothies, and turkey on whole-grain bread with vegetables.
Drink Lots of Fluids
You need to drink lots of fluids before, during, and after your workout to prevent dehydration. Here is a guide to staying well-hydrated for your workout.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of water two to three hours before your workout.
- Drink about ½ to 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. You can adjust depending on your body size and the weather.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of water after your workout for every pound of weight you lose during a workout.
Water is the best drink when working out, but if your exercise is more than 60 minutes, you should use a sports drink. A sports drink can maintain your body’s electrolyte balance and give you an energy boost.