After a workout your body is primed for muscle building, as the body works to repair the micro-tears in muscle that happen during exercise. Exercise has numerous benefits for overall health. In order to optimize these benefits, post-workout nutrition should be a priority.
A hardy sweat session means your glycogen and electrolyte stores will be depleted, and you will need to combat protein breakdown.
1. Why it’s important
In order to effectively replenish your glycogen and enhance protein synthesis you should focus on eating quality whole foods with plenty of nutrients.
Protein and carbohydrates should be consumed post-workout to ensure muscle health. Proper post-workout nutrition can also increase the body’s ability to utilize fat and improve immune function.
Eating nutritious foods that are rich in carbohydrates and amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, also means shorter recovery time and even stronger bones.
2. What to try
Nuts, seeds, and animal products are all high in protein. Wheat, grains, and starchy vegetables are good sources of carbohydrates.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture states on the Choose MyPlate website that snacks should not replace meals. The USDA recommends snacking on lean-protein such as unsalted nuts or hard-boiled eggs.
The Food and Drug Administration states in their Family Handout that “100 calories per serving of an individual food is considered a moderate amount and 400 calories or more per serving of an individual food is considered high in calories.”
Take your activity level into account when preparing a post-workout snack.
3. Protein shakes
While protein shakes are generally considered a quick and convenient post-workout snack, remember that dietary supplements such as protein powders are not regulated by the FDA.
You can conduct research when selecting a protein powder to ensure that the product is third-party tested or, instead, opt for a protein shake that consists of whole foods.
You can use peanut flour, oats, Greek yogurt, or soymilk as a replacement for protein powder and add in some of your favorite ingredients to further enhance the taste.
Remember to have a fair ratio of carbs to protein in your shake.
4. Time it
Science suggests that eating your protein and carbohydrate rich snack within 2 hours of your workout is best for the timely utilization of nutrients.
Some dietitians recommend eating your post-workout snack within 30 minutes of your workout.
Eating a nutritious snack after working out is believed to enhance protein synthesis which helps to build and repair muscle.
A healthy snack can also keep you satiated until your next meal.
5. Be prepared
Prepare your snack ahead of time so that you don’t succumb to post-workout exhaustion and miss a valuable opportunity to capitalize on your body’s malleable state.
Anticipate what you will be craving after your workout and find nutrient-rich foods that meet your needs. Use air-tight containers to store your pre-made snacks.
If you will be traveling to workout, consider packing your snack in an insulated lunch box.
Keep a few different options on hand for the week that way you can alternate them. Always consult a physician or registered dietician before making changes to your diet.