Some people think that workout ends when they leave the gym or finish their final lap on the track, but this is wrong. Choosing the right food after a workout is part of your exercise. Post-workout food can help you recover more quickly, build muscle, and get ready for your next regimen.
In this article, we look at a quick guide to making the most of your post-workout and pre-workout foods.
Why is eating after a workout important?
The body is greatly affected by physical activity. During workouts, a lot happens to the body such as muscle tear, depletion of energy stores, and burning of calories of course.
This is the reason you are most likely to feel tired, hungry, and sore after an intense workout. Leaving your body in such a state might harm you and therefore you have to have a post-workout meal.
A post-workout meal will help
- Decrease muscle breakdown.
- Increase the growth of muscles.
- Replenish energy and restore glycogen stores.
What is the best time to eat after a workout?
Eating immediately after a workout is not at all advisable. You need to relax and then go for the meal within 15 to 30 minutes.
If it’s not possible, aim to eat the meal within 60 minutes after the workout. This timing can help you have maximum benefits from the post-workout food.
What is the best food to eat after?
After a workout, you would probably need food that will repair the body, energize it as well as rehydrate it. These are the food groups that you will need after your workout.
Workouts usually create microscopic tears or damage to your muscles this calls for the need for adequate amounts of proteins to give the body amino acids for muscle repair.
Additionally, proteins also give the body the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue.
From a study by PubMed, it is recommended to consume around 0.14-0.23 grams of proteins for the body to meet its demands towards muscle building and repair.
Below are the best protein food sources you can eat after a workout.
- Greek yogurt.
- Protein bars.
- Whey proteins.
- Soya protein.
- Chocolate milk.
- Peanut butter.
- Protein shakes.
The aim of your works can be used to determine the type of proteins to eat. For weight loss workouts, calorie counting may be adopted and foods with low calories can be chosen.
For bodybuilding workouts that demand high calories or don’t care much about calorie counting, high-calorie foods can be eaten.
Workouts and exercises can deplete your glycogen stores which the body uses as fuel. You will need to replenish your energy stores so that the body can function properly.
It is also important to note that workouts and different body activities deplete glycogen stores at different rates.
For this reason, your carbs intake will depend on the type of exercises that you do. For example, endurance workouts such as running, swimming might require you to consume more carbs than a bodybuilder.
Below are some of the best carbs food sources after workouts.
- sweet potatoes.
- Whole-grain cereal.
- whole-grain bread.
Healthy fats are essential.
Although fats may slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce the nutrients or benefits of those foods.
From a study, whole milk (full of fat) is effective at promoting muscle growth after workouts more than skim milk.
However, you should eat fewer foods with fat and opt for healthy fats.
Below are the healthy fat food sources for post workouts.
- Coconut oil.
- Flax seeds.
- Nut butter.
Great tips for post-workout meals.
- Always hydrate.
Drinking enough water can help replace lost water in form of sweat during workouts.
The reason why you should drink water over other drinks is that water can quench the thirst and it’s not loaded with unhealthy ingredients which is the case with energy drinks, sports drinks, or sodas.
- Combinations are important;
Combining foods from the list above can help create great post workouts meals that will benefit your body. It is important to have adequate amounts of proteins, carbs, and other food sources that can provide nutrients to the body.
Here are some examples of post-workout meal combinations put together by Healthline.
- Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables.
- Egg omelet with avocado spread on toast.
- Salmon with sweet potato.
- Tuna salad sandwich on whole-grain bread.
- Tuna and crackers.
- Oatmeal, whey protein, banana, and almonds.
- Cottage cheese and fruits.
- Pita and hummus.
- Rice crackers and peanut butter.
- Whole grain toast and almond butter.
- Cereal and skim milk.
- Greek yogurt, berries, and granola.
- Protein shakes and banana.
- Quinoa bowl with berries and pecans.
- Multi-grain bread and raw peanuts.
Is eating before a workout important as well?
Good nutrition is a great factor in achieving great results from your workouts. This brings up the question, should you eat before working out?
Here is what you need to know.
A nutrient-dense and carefully chosen pre-workout meal can help maximize performance and minimize muscle damage. This meal can fuel the body to give it strength and energy to perform better.
These are the foods you should eat before workouts
Carbs are turned into glucose which the body uses as fuel during workouts. It is very essential to have carbs food sources in your pre-workout meal.
Unlike many fitness personalities that recommend working on an empty stomach, when you work on an empty stomach you will have less strength to workout.
Examples of carbs food sources.
- Whole grain bread.
- Brown rice
Eating protein food sources prior to your workouts can improve athletic performance. When you have adequate proteins in your pre-workout meals you will have faster muscle growth, improved muscle recovery, increased lean mass, and muscle performance.
Examples of protein food sources.
- Protein shakes.
- Whole eggs.
Fruits and vegetables.
Whole fruits and vegetables should be included in your pre-workout meals as they are known for their high nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, antioxidants, and hydrating properties. These most especially the hydrating properties can help boost workouts since hydration is a major factor for efficient workouts.
You also find carbs in fruits and vegetables which carbs are needed for fueling the body during workouts.
When you don’t eat whole fruits and vegetables, they can be made in smoothies.
Here are some pre-workout combinations from Healthline.
Meals for workouts that start within 2-3 hours.
- Sandwich on whole-grain bread, lean protein, and a side salad
- Egg omelet and whole-grain toast topped with avocado spread and a cup of fruit
- Lean protein, brown rice, and roasted vegetables.
Within 2 hours.
- Protein smoothie made with milk, protein powder, banana, and mixed berries
- Whole-grain cereal and milk
- A cup of oatmeal topped with banana and sliced almonds
- Natural almond butter and fruit preserve sandwich on whole-grain bread
Less than an hour.
- Greek yogurt and fruit
- Nutrition bar with protein and wholesome ingredients
- A piece of fruit, such as a banana, orange, or apple
What time should you eat your pre-workout meals?
The timing of your pre-workout meals is also very important. You probably wouldn’t like to hit the road with a very satisfied belly that makes exercises difficult.
This is the reason why you should eat your meals hours before your workouts. To maximize the effects, it is recommended to eat 2-3 hours before your workout.
In this case, you will give the body time to absorb the nutrients in the food as well as reduce the discomfort that may be caused by over satisfaction with food.
However, if you happen to eat 45-60 minutes before workouts, you should choose foods that are easy to digest and won’t give you discomfort during workouts.
Therefore, should we eat before a workout or after a workout?
As seen above, pre-workout and post-workout meals are very essential in getting you effective performance and workouts.
Therefore, you should eat both meals to get the best out of your workouts. Proteins and carbs should be the main foods that dominate these meals.
You should also hydrate to give the body the required amount of water to function properly during and after workouts.
The bottom line.
Always try to get a meal that is packed with proteins and carbs before your workouts. The meal should be hours earlier so as you don’t get stomach discomfort during workouts.
On the other hand, getting a protein and carbs rich meal within the hour after your workouts also is great for the body. These meals should, however, be chosen depending on aim of your workouts.
If you are trying to lose weight calorie-counting may apply and if you are bodybuilding then you need more calories.