What to Eat After A Workout: 5 Important Post-Workout Nutrients
Your body needs fuel after sessions of energy-draining exercises. To give fuel to your body, you need good foods without skyrocketing your cholesterol levels or blood sugar.
So, what you eat after a workout is very important. And whenever the topic of post-workout meals comes up, people think about protein.
But, apart from taking only protein post-workout, you need to include all the nutrients. And that includes healthy fat, high-quality carbs, and many more.
Here, let’s explore ideas and info for your post-workout meal. Also, we have included several resources that can help you to perfect your post-workout intake.
Table of Contents
- What to Eat After A Workout: The Importance of Eating Post-Workout
- The Timing Of Your Post-Workout Meal Matters
- 5 Important Post-Workout Nutrients
- Functions of Nutrients In a Post-Workout Meal
- Food Examples Based on Nutrients To Eat After A Workout
- Resources for Planning Your Post-workout Meals and Snacks
- What To Eat After A Workout FAQs
What to Eat After A Workout: The Importance of Eating Post-Workout
Your body demands the use of energy during exercise or workout sessions. And the energy comes from glycogen in your body. So the obvious need lies in having healthy foods to replenish glycogen stores.
Also, eating after workouts supports the repair and development of muscles. Importantly, you boost your immune system with after-workout meals.
Moreover, the importance of eating after workouts increases if you are doing muscle-building activities. Sufficient after-exercise foods aid in building new muscle tissue.
But, not eating or having enough nutrients after workouts kills the importance of physical labor. And improper nourishment fails to repair micro-tears you gained during workouts and intensifies muscle tears.
Further, having good food after physical activities makes you feel energized. And that preps you enough for your next workouts.
The Timing Of Your Post-Workout Meal Matters
The post-workout hour is a crucial time to replenish your body with proper nutrition. 15 to 60 minutes after the exercise session represents a perfect nutrient timing to gain nutrients for muscle repair and growth.
Further, delaying your food intake after exercise makes you feel more tired and thus incapable of doing future workouts. And not having proper nourishment after workouts at the correct time can never support building or maintaining a good physique.
Importantly, the timing of your workout determines your food intake. If you work out during the day, you have more options to select from while deciding what to eat.
But if you exercise during night hours, you have limited options to select from. For your post-night workout meals, you need to keep carbs less and proteins more.
However, it’s equally important to eat 2 to 4 hours prior to working out. Consult a registered dietitian nutritionist to aid in developing after-workout meals with correct timings and compositions.
5 Important Post-Workout Nutrients
In recent times, eating protein has received much attention thanks to the attractive marketing of protein bars. Every fitness enthusiast seems to carry portable protein snacks in the gym bag.
But what matters is the intake and type of protein to support muscle growth and repair. You can introduce a combo of plant-based and animal-based proteins in your meals after workouts. Importantly, you need to have high-quality protein that gives you essential amino acids.
Coming to how much protein you need, the answer depends on your workout type.
Having 20 grams of protein is sufficient after heavy workouts. But, in cases of moderate or light exercises, you can have lesser protein. In general, a single meal can include 0.4 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight.
You need to add sufficient carbs in meals after workouts to help in refilling glycogen reserves. As suggested by medicalnewstoday.com, you should consume 15 grams of carbs after 3 hours of strength training.
However, the required amount of carbs to be consumed depends on the intensity of the activity. Like, endurance sports and resistance training demand changes in carb intake.
Further, you need to focus on the source of carbohydrates. Include carbs from healthy sources, not refined or junk foods.
Also, you need to have carbohydrates with a high glycemic index. So you can include potatoes and rice in your meals after workouts. But for a low glycemic diet, you can have sweet potatoes.
Your meals after workouts should not include excess fat. Even a very lean person contains enough fat to go through endurance exercises.
Further, you should avoid including saturated fats in your after-exercise meals.
You can have nuts, seeds, eggs, avocados, etc., to make your meal more satisfying. And these mentioned sources are also healthy.
We tend to give excess attention to what foods we should eat after a workout. Doing so loses our focus from the need to support physical recovery and development with fluids.
But we lose fluids in the form of sweating during heavy exercises. And that highlights the need to stay hydrated.
Moreover, you can have fluids even while working out. For fluid compensation related to workouts, the American College of Sports Medicine gives thorough instruction. They instruct you to have 23 ounces of fluid per every lost pound of body weight between your two consecutive workouts.
Also, as told by runnersworld.com, you can drink water for a workout continuing for 60 minutes. But, water fails to keep up the fluid and electrolyte levels during longer and heavier exercises.
To replenish fluids during intense workouts, you can have a sports drink. But, many market varieties tend to have high sugar and flavoring agents. So, check on the labels before buying and consuming.
Further, you should have vegetables and fruits to meet one and a half times the fluid you lost during the workout. But, to refill the lost fluid, don’t include healthy drinks in one go. Distribute your intake of fluids spreading over two to six hours.
5. Vitamins, minerals, and other micro-nutrients
Like other nutrients in the list, these are equally important but in low quantities. In your meals after workouts, you need to add fruits. Fruits do provide you with plenty and a variety of vitamins and nutrients.
Apart from fruits, you can include vegetables in your post-exercise meals. Veggies have surprisingly diverse micro-nutrients. Also, seafood gives an impressive variety of micro-nutrients.
So, apart from focusing on both carbs and proteins, you need to include micro-nutrients. A smart way to have vitamins and minerals involves taking fruits you like. Almost every fruit has micro-nutrients, even if they are not diverse.
Functions of Nutrients In a Post-Workout Meal
Protein To Repair and Develop Muscle
We need proteins after workouts to prevent muscle protein breakdown. Also, eating proteins help to repair muscles and encourage the growth of new muscle tissue.
Here are some highly recommended protein powders one can take post-workout.
1. Top Consumer’s Pick for Organic Protein Source: Garden of Life Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
This gluten-free protein powder is rich in organic protein like peas, navy beans, Garbanzo beans, etc. It helps your body to rejuvenate after strenuous workouts.
Further, it is enriched with a probiotic mixture for boosting your immune system.
2. Best Flavored Protein: Orgain Simple Organic Plant Protein Powder
This gluten-free, vegan protein powder is great for strengthening your muscles. It has ginger, fermented turmeric, tart cherry, and many other plant-based elements.
It is free of artificial sugar. Also, it is available in peanut butter, chocolate, and vanilla flavors.
Carbs For Refilling Glycogen Stores
Importantly, as highlighted by the International Journal of Sports Medicine, having carbs after exercise helps in refilling glycogen storage. Further, it is essential to avoid plateauing in your weight loss goal.
Also, even if you are following a low-carb diet, having high-carb food on some days may be essential. Through proper carb-cycling, you can replenish the glycemic stores of the body. Thus, glycogen can provide your body with the energy it needs.
Furthermore, carb cycling helps the recovery of muscle tissue. So, here’s a highly favored digital program for carb cycling.
1. Comprehensive Carb Cycling Guide for Beginners: Carb Cycling For Weight Loss
This digital program is extremely beneficial for losing weight, optimizing muscle growth, and balancing hormone levels. The program follows an increase-and-decrease approach in carb intake for maximized results.
Further, this program allows you to schedule your carb consumption based on your workout regime.
This program is also beneficial in reducing inflammation in the body. Reducing inflammation helps to avoid risks like blood sugar and cardiac diseases.
Healthy Fats Are Important
Diets with high fats but low carbs give low glycogen storage, which leads to sluggish performance during workouts. And that establishes the insignificance of having high fats.
But you can include food items with healthy but limited fats in your after-workout meal. Limited consumption of good fat further makes you feel fuller for longer. And thus, it makes up for the tired feeling that comes from high-calorie expenditure during workouts.
In addition, good-fat food in your meal does not interfere with post-workout recovery.
The Indispensability of Micro Things
You should make sure that your meal after the workout has essential micronutrients. These micronutrients boost efficiency during workouts. Further, by maintaining the body’s glycogen stores, these leave amino acids for protein synthesis.
In addition, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in your diet can help you do better in the next workout. These will help you shrug off fatigue so that your performance is improved in future workouts.
Moreover, micronutrients in after-workout meals are great for supporting the immune system. In other words, these keep immunodeficiency at bay.
Food Examples Based on Nutrients To Eat After A Workout
|Brown rice||Fish like halibut or tuna|
|Whole wheat or whole grain bread||Eggs|
|Whole grain crackers||Crab|
|White rice||Whole soybeans|
|Kidney beans||Greek yogurt|
|Fats||Vitamins and Other Micro-nutrients|
|Pumpkin seeds||Chicken liver|
|Coconut||Green gram sprouts|
Resources for Planning Your Post-workout Meals and Snacks
Daily physical activities, including strenuous workouts, use a significant amount of energy. And as a result, you feel extreme hunger.
Further, you may crave foods not allowed in your diet, like desserts. Here it’s worth noting you can satisfy your craving in a healthy way that too by reading books.
1. Best For Desserts Variation: Keto Desserts
This targets the dessert craving of middle-aged adults and provides amazing recipes for healthy keto desserts. But, despite being developed for a diet type and age group, you can explore the book for a post-workout snack. Further, the given recipes come with detailed instructions and nutrient profiles.
However, if you are on a plant-based diet, taking help from keto books will not give you many options. So, you can use this instead
2. Complete and Easy Guide for Beginners: CoBionic Plant-Based Cookbook
You can look into innumerable options as a vegan or vegetarian. This digital guide importantly gives 105+ recipes that need easily-available ingredients.
Also, the given instructions allow making changes in recipes while cooking. Thus with the CoBionic book, you can have nutrient-rich foods after workouts.
Further, all the mentioned books not only help to make the right foods but also supports healthy body weight. Notably, the given recipes can be well integrated into well-balanced meals.
Here, we have also given examples to aid the optimal recovery of your body following workout sessions.
- Turkey Sandwich
- Whole grain toast with cottage cheese and fruits
- Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables
- Quinoa bowl with sprouts, vegetables, and fish or chicken
- Baked fish with cheese and vegetables
- Whole wheat bread with boiled eggs, and avocados
- Chocolate milk
- Leafy green salad with roasted chicken and fruits
- Pudding with seeds, nuts, milk, and fruits
- Yogurt bowl with fruits
You need to have the right meals after exercises or workouts. Including foods with a good nutrient profile in after-exercise diets is important.
Moreover, you need to include proteins, fats, and even micro-nutrients in your after-workout meal. Each nutrient comes with high importance.
Further, you can use supplements to consume properly-nourished meals after workouts.
Also, to develop good meals after workouts, you can explore eBooks.
What To Eat After A Workout FAQs
What to eat after a workout to support muscle protein synthesis?
To support muscle protein synthesis, you should eat food rich in carbohydrates and protein post-workout. Talking about the synthesis of muscle proteins, here we bring some post-workout meal ideas. You can have quinoa, whole grains, dairy protein, lean meat, egg, and fish post-workout to repair muscles.
In addition, proper food post workouts help to build muscle through muscle protein synthesis. Also, it decreases the breakdown of muscle protein. Overall, it helps the body recover.
How to refill glycogen stores after a workout?
To boost muscle glycogen synthesis, you must have carbohydrate-rich food after a workout session. Foods with a high glycemic index will help refill glycogen stores in the muscles. Some food items with high glycemic index are white bread, white rice, potatoes, etc.
For proper glycogen resynthesis, one must consume 1.5g of high glycemic carbohydrate for 1kg of body weight. It is important to refill the body’s glycogen stores for proper recovery. Further, you can include protein in your post-workout meal to replenish glycogen stores faster.
What should you include in your post-workout snack for optimum post-workout recovery?
Planning a workout is much beyond weight loss. You need proper food after workouts so that your muscle glycogen gets restored. The meal you have after working out should have a proper balance of both carbs and protein.
Animal, dairy, green, or whey protein in your after-workout snack will provide the amino acids which your body needs. Consuming carbohydrates in the form of rice cakes, white bread, oatmeal, etc., will promote recovery and repair of muscle.
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Author: Vanessa Richards
Vanessa is a mom of 3 lovely children and a software geek. Outside of her career as a health and wellness instructor. She enjoys writing and researching on topics such as finance, software, health and culinary.