Most health buffs who start out don’t realize that the kinds of food that you eat after your workout is just as important as the ones that you consume before you start training. This is because your body needs to recover from the stress and fatigue that is put on it during your workout, and all-natural food containing balanced nutrients is a good way to refuel your body.
What Happens during and after a Workout?
During a workout, your body burns up the glycogen stored in your muscles to power through the physical activity. Glycogen basically serves as a form of energy storage and is used up when your body needs the energy to perform strenuous physical activities. It’s also possible for proteins in your muscles to become damaged during the workout, depending on the intensity of the activity.
After working out, your body will try to replenish the lost glycogen stores as well as repair any damaged muscle tissue. This is where eating the right nutrients in sufficient amounts is important to facilitate this process. By getting enough carbs and proteins, your body is able to recuperate from the strain caused by the workout.
Breaking down the Nutrients Needed for Recovery
The two main macronutrients needed for the body’s recovery process are protein and carbohydrates.
Proteins focus on the repair of damaged muscle tissue as well as the building and growth of new tissue. Studies suggest that consuming 20 to 40 grams of protein right after a workout should be enough to speed up the recovery process after a workout. Once an adequate source of protein is ingested, the amino acids will then work to rebuild and regrow any lost muscle protein tissue.
The glycogen stores mentioned earlier are classified as carbohydrates that your body uses up as fuel when performing physical activities. Depending on the type of activity, the amount of carbs that need to be replenished varies. A recommended 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbs per pound of your weight is an ideal amount to consume after a workout.
Eating foods rich in protein and carbs are some of the best ways to do your post-workout recovery. It’s best to follow a ratio of 3:1 for carbs to protein to maximize your body’s recuperation process.
4 Great Examples of Post-Workout Foods
Need a quick pick-me-up food after a tiring workout? Chocolate milk has a good balance of protein and a bit of carbohydrates that can help recover your energy levels. Many love milk for its rich and creamy taste, and adding some chocolate flavor to it just makes this drink even more of a treat after a long session at the gym.
Of course, there are those individuals that have problems when consuming milk, whether because they’re lactose intolerant or it goes against their diet plan. Fortunately, there are many diary alternatives like chocolate-flavored milked nuts. These contain roughly the same amount of proteins and nutrients that you get out of regular milk without the added baggage that it normally brings.
Peanut or Almond Butter
Nothing says quick energy than a spoonful of either peanut butter or almond butter. The proteins found in both can help with the speedy recovery of the muscles. You can also pair either with fruits like banana to help with electrolyte recovery or apples for some of the natural sugars it contains.
Whole Wheat Tuna Sandwich
While some people don’t like the idea of having something as filling as a sandwich after a workout, a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread is actually a balanced diet of carbs and proteins that can trigger an optimized response to your post-workout recovery. Protein-rich food like tuna can also help promote muscle growth even better than other kinds of food, so you know you’re maximizing your gains by adding this to your recovery food plan.
Hummus and Pita
Similar to a sandwich but not as filling, hummus, and pita bread can bring the same balanced combination of protein and carbs needed for a better recovery. The chickpeas that make up hummus is rich in protein and is also a great option for vegans who want to build some muscle. If you want to make it even healthier, make sure to choose whole wheat pita so you can take advantage of the slow releasing energy it can give to keep you fueled up for hours.
Creating the perfect post-workout diet doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Just make sure that you choose foods that are rich in both protein and carbohydrates to help your body’s recovery process. Of course, you also have to make sure that you don’t go overboard with the servings or you’ll be just undoing all the hard work you put into your workout.