Workout Nutrition Part 2: What to Eat After Your Workout
In part one of our Workout Nutrition Series, we covered everything you need to know about what you should be eating before your workout.
To briefly recap:
- Eating the right foods prior to training can boost performance, resist fatigue and aid in post-workout recovery
- Eating something before training is better than nothing
- Your pre-workout meal should consist of 50% carbohydrates (fuel) and 50% protein (muscle repair)
- If you're eating 2 hours out from your workout, have a larger meal
- If you're eating 30 minutes to 1 hour, have a lighter snack
Why should we eat after our workout?
Today, we are going to cover everything you need to know about post-workout nutrition.
Over the years there has been a great deal of research on what to eat after your training, and rightfully so.
Post-workout nutrition is one of the most overlooked areas of reaching your fitness goals and typically becomes an afterthought.
What you eat after your workout plays a vital role in areas like:
- Improving recovery
- Replenishing energy stores (carbohydrate)
- Building strength through repairing damaged muscle (protein)
- Decreasing muscle soreness
- Decreasing your risk of injury
When we workout we actually cause stress and damage to our body. Our body then works to repair and build back stronger, leaner and more fit.
The key though is to have the right nutrition to allow this process to happen.
Exercise requires energy.
We get that energy a few ways, but our main fuel source during exercise is from carbohydrates.
We break down the sugars in our blood from our pre-workout meal or snack as well as the sugars we store in the form of glycogen for energy.
With the proper post-workout carbohydrate we are able to replenish those glycogen stores, preparing us for our next workout.
Our exercise also has a great effect on our muscles.
Whether we are resistance training, running or swimming our muscles work hard to contract, stabilize accelerate and decelerate causing quite a bit of muscle (protein) damage.
The process of repair and rebuilding damaged muscle is known as protein synthesis.
This repair and rebuild is dependent upon the amount of quality protein in our diet, especially after your workouts.
If we do not get enough our body actually ends up breaking down our undamaged muscle to help leaving us losing muscle and strength.
Now that we know we should eat after our workout, the question becomes when or how soon after your workout?
Is there a certain timeframe? Yes.
This is known as the anabolic (repair/strengthen) window.
This window is when your muscles and glycogen stores are most ready to receive the proper nutrients to rebuild and repair --- leaving you stronger, healthier and ready for your next workout.
This window opens up immediately after your workout and drastically decreases 2 hours after your workout.
We tell our members to consume their post-workout meal or shake as soon as possible.
What should I eat?
We recommend two options when it comes to what you are eating after your workout.
1) Protein Shake
Many people find this easier to handle after a workout as sometimes it can be tough to get a meal down.
The liquid form of carbohydrates and protein allows you to absorb the nutrients much quicker than a whole meal, speeding up the recovery process. This can be easier to prepare as well.
Build Your Own Protein Shake:
- Pick One Protein: (1-2 scoops) whey, brown rice, hemp, pea
- Pick One Frozen Fruit: (handful) strawberries, blueberries, dark cherries, raspberries
- Pick One Vegetable: (handful) baby spinach, kale ** You won't taste this
- Pick One Fat: (teaspoon - tablespoon) coconut oil, peanut butter, almond butter, shredded coconut
- Pick One Liquid: unsweetened almond or coconut milk, water
- Ice (optional to make it more thick)
Blend and enjoy!
If you are looking to lose fat this would be your post workout meal.
If you are looking to gain weight and muscle mass, follow this shake up with a whole meal 1-2 hours later.
2) Whole Meal
Another option would be eat a meal within an hour of your workout.
Here we are looking for a mix of carbohydrates and protein.
If you are looking to lose fat stick to a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein meal.
If you are looking to gain muscle mass or are an endurance athlete, have a meal that is 3-4:1 carbohydrate to protein.
- Grilled chicken with side of sweet potato and salad
- Grilled salmon with side of jasmine rice and green beans
- 2-3 eggs scrambled with whole grain or gluten free toast and fruit
- Bowl of plain Greek yogurt with strawberries and walnuts
** All with water
We hope you enjoyed our Workout Nutrition Series!
Stay tuned for more tips and announcements on our DSC Nutrition Coaching -- COMING SOON!