It seems almost everyone in this world has his/her own opinion when it comes what to eat after a workout. Some would say about the best post workout food being all carbs, while others prefer a post workout protein menu. And believe it or not, there are those who think munching on gummy bears is ideal.
In reality, there is tons of pseudo-science and/or straight up falsities about what a person should eat after his/her workout – and they all are floating on the Internet. But instead of simply defining what a great after workout diet should be, let’s use science to determine what foods are best after your trip to the gym.
So, without further ado, here is everything about it in a nutshell.
What To Eat After a Workout
Many are wondering, “Why does it matter what a person should eat after a workout?” Before you can really understand the significance behind it, you need to determine first what your workout does to your body. Essentially, identifying these foods can help in your recovery after a workout – this one is pretty much the premise.
When you start engulfing yourself in a variety of strenuous physical activities, your glycogen is being depleted. Glycogen, which is also known as carbohydrates, is responsible for giving energy. So, if you are performing a type of resistance training, it is expected from your muscles to experience tiny micro-tears. But do not worry – it is actually a good thing. It only means that your muscles are getting stronger, but there is a need for them to undergo healing and/or repairing process.
This is where nutrition comes in. Sure, you might be resting after undergoing a workout, but your body is having difficulty restocking glycogen. It even has a hard time repairing those muscle fibers. If you do not have proper nutrients – something that a post workout diet can offer – the recovery process of your body can extremely slow down simply because you do not have the fuel to do so.
To put it simply, you need to know what to eat post workout if you want your body to heal and become stronger.
Macronutrients and How They Help Them
Macronutrients should be part of your after workout snack. In fact, a lot of experts in this industry prefer having them in both pre and post workout diet. Macronutrients consist of carbs, fat, and protein – all of which serve as building blocks of your diet. They are essential in helping you achieve not only a balanced but also a healthy diet, one that keeps your body running at optimal performance.
So, what to eat post workout? Let’s take a look at these macronutrients individually.
Carbs After Workout – Carbs are helpful in replenishing your body’s glycogen stores, which you tend to burn throughout a workout. If you are fond of exercising on a daily basis or big amounts, it is best to eat a lot of carbs. Not only is this meant for recovery, but it is also crucial in boosting your energy levels.
Fat After Workout – Unlike in the past, there are recent studies proving that fats are essential as long as you consume them in moderate amounts. Not only are they good for the body, but they are also ideal for consumption. After all, they do not necessarily affect both muscle recovery and glycogen stores. However, if you are going to consume fats as part of your after workout diet, you should do so alongside carbs and protein.
Protein After Workout – Have you ever wondered why bodybuilders seem to love the idea chugging protein shakes after their workout? That is because protein helps them repair and rebuild muscle fibers, especially since they tend to undergo trainings that breakdown muscle protein. A general rule of thumb is to consume 0.14 to 0.23g protein per pound of body weight. This should be enough to help you quickly recover from a workout.
What To Eat Post Workout
Now that we have dealt with science, it is time you learn the actual foods you can eat after your workout. Here are some options on what to eat after a workout:
- Carbs – pasta, quinoa, potatoes, oatmeal, and brown rice
- Fats – avocado, nut butters, nuts
- Protein – eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, greek yogurt, and protein powder (animal-product or plant-based should do the trick)
On the other side of the spectrum, let’s take a look at some of the best meals and snacks for your recovery after workout:
Note: You can always build your go-to post-workout meal or snack by simply combining one or more of the three elements (i.e. carbs, fats, and protein). Here are some examples of what to eat post workout:
- Cottage cheese with berries and toast
- Brown rice with leafy greens and grilled chicken
- Oatmeal with whey protein
- Two pieces of whole grain toast, half an avocado, and two eggs
Before you move forward and keep these post workout meals or snacks in mind, remember that it is also important to hydrate. Yes, that is right – your body needs water. And since workout is going to make you sweat more, you need to find a way to recover electrolytes. So instead of just focusing on your post-workout diet, remember that water is essential, too. And, oh, we also have a guide on what to eat before a workout. Come and check it out!