Before we get into what you should eat as a post workout meal, we should understand what happens to your body when you workout. Your body’s preferred energy source is glucose, which we get from carbohydrates. So when we train, our a body’s use our glycogen stores as fuel to blast through the workout. In addition to our glycogen stores, our body’s use ATP (adenosine triphosphate). After quickly using up these supplies, the body requires extra oxygen to create more ATP. More blood is pumped to the exercising muscles to deliver that additional O2. Without enough oxygen, lactic acid will form instead. The burning sensation you get when you train is the result of lactic acid build up.Finally physically, when we workout we create micro tears in our muscles. These tears, when healed, help your muscles grow in both size and strength.
When it comes to refueling with a post workout meal, there’s a method to the madness. Whats on your plate or in your shaker should address your now depleted nutrients.
Protein helps repair and build muscle. Exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein, the rate at which this happens depends on the exercise and your level of training, but even well-trained athletes experience muscle protein breakdown. Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue. Studies have shown that ingesting 20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise.
Carbs help with recovery. Your body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them. The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. It’s recommended to try consuming a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein).
While fat might slow down the absorption of your post workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits. For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk.
Now that we have done a brief breakdown of what happens to your body during a workout and the impact the macro-nutrients have on your recovery, lets get into what you should be eating.
Some Protein Options Include:
- Animal– or plant-based protein powder
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Protein bar
Some Carb Options Include:
- Sweet potatoes/ Potatoes
- Chocolate milk
- Fruits (pineapple, berries, banana, kiwi)
- Rice cakes
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
Some Fat Options Include:
- Nut butters
- Trail mix (dried fruits and nuts)
- Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables.
- Egg omelet with avocado spread on toast.
- Salmon with sweet potato.
- Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread.
- Oatmeal, whey protein, banana and almonds.
- Cottage cheese and fruits.
- Pita and hummus.
- Greek yogurt, berries and granola.
- Protein shake with a banana.