You’ve got the hard part out of the way. You had a great workout, and you’re completely famished after. Unfortunately, where to go from here is something that few of us know. What to eat after a workout? Something with carbs? Should it have protein?
Even though you may not even feel hungry after you workout, what you eat and drink for your post-workout meal is crucial. Many of your so-called fitness buffs will consider it their most important meal of the day.
What you choose to eat after you workout isn’t just a matter of quieting hunger pangs or thirst, it’s an essential part of keeping yourself on track and making progress as you go about your fitness journey.
But no worries! Today, we’re going to clear up all that confusion and give you concrete ideas on exactly what you should be putting into your body after your finish up a session at the gym or a run on the trail. (BTW, knowing what to eat before a workout is important too.)
Why is post-workout nutrition important?
Whether you’re counting calories, trying to build muscle, or just stay in shape, keeping your body full of proper nutrition is very important. During your workout you’ve spent time depleting your body of its energy stores and taxing your muscles.
So once you’re finished, it’s absolutely essential that you replenish these depleted energy stores and feed your aching muscles so that your body can begin the process of recovery as soon as possible. Your body is not only building a better you, but also preparing for the next workout.
Exercise forces your body to adapt (and improve) so that it can handle the workload. Building and maintaining lean muscle takes a lot of work, and you must give your body plenty of the nutrition it needs to make this happen.
What should I eat after a workout?
In addition to water, the two things you should absolutely be looking for after working out are protein and carbohydrates. Look for foods that are high in protein, with a nice amount of carbs as well.
If you’re crunched for time, don’t feel like eating after exercise, or looking to build muscle, a protein shake mixed with skim milk or water is an excellent, easy and quick option that will give you tons of protein and a nice amount of carbs.
But if you don’t want to deal with protein shakes there are still plenty of good, regular-food options available. Look for quality sources of protein like grilled chicken or turkey paired with fresh veggies or fruit.
And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’re in luck. Chocolate milk is surprisingly enough a great post-workout meal. How’s that work, you ask? Chocolate milk is not just a good source of protein, it’s also much higher in carbs than regular milk.
What should I NOT eat after a workout?
Avoid foods that are high in fat after working out. Fat will slow your body’s absorption of nutrients, including carbs and protein, which is the absolute LAST thing you want after working out. Aim to keep you post-workout meal under 10g of fat (or lower).
When should I eat my after workout meal?
The sooner the better, but do your absolute best to eat within the hour of completing your workout. During your workout, your muscles are taxed and your body gets depleted of glycogen stores.
What’s called the “golden hour” after working out is when your muscles will absorb the most nutrients and when your depleted stores of glycogen are being replaced most efficiently by your body.
To finish things up today, I want to stress that you do not neglect proper nutrition after working out. Even if you’re trying to lose weight, or not concerned with getting stronger, your body absolutely must have nutrition to repair itself and get to work building a better you!
Be sure to pin this in case you need a refresher in the future!