While pre-workout nutrition is all about sustained energy needed to complete the exercise, post-workout meals are meant to help your body recover after a training session. One of the key features of the best post-workout nutrition is muscle repair and restoration of glycogen stores within your body. But, not all meals after training are good for you.
What you eat after a workout is crucial for recovery and completion of your long-term fitness goals. A combination of protein and carbohydrates, with a touch of healthy fats and plenty of fluids, can make a significant difference in how you recover and how you perform in your next session.
While certain nutrition basics apply to most humans, always keep in mind that your body is unique, and listening to its cues will help you understand exactly what it needs. Let’s take a look at how food can help you recover and thrive after a training session.
Immediately after your workout finishes, your muscles are spent and primed for repair and growth. If you consume quality protein post-exercise, you’re giving them the amino acids necessary for muscle protein synthesis. Lean protein sources such as chicken breast, turkey, tofu, or a whey protein shake will quickly supply your muscles with these essential building blocks.
While working out, your body is depleting your glycogen storage—the stored form of glucose the body uses for energy. That’s why it’s crucial to replenish your glycogen levels. The best way to do this is by consuming carbohydrates after your workout. Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, or fruits like berries or a banana are excellent sources of complex carbs that speed up your recovery and quickly re-energize your system.
While you should rightly focus on replenishing proteins and carbs, it’s important not to neglect healthy fats. Fats found in avocados, nuts, and seeds will help reduce inflammation that kicks in after an intense workout session. However, the human body digests fats slowly so it’s important to keep the portions small and avoid overburdening it and slowing down the absorption of other nutrients.
Intense workouts can increase oxidative stress in the body. This leads to muscle fatigue and inflammation. This is where antioxidants come into play. They play an important role in combating this stress. Always try to add berries, dark leafy greens, or brightly colored vegetables to your post-workout meal to harness the soothing effect of antioxidants.
While supplements certainly have a role to play, especially in the lives of professional athletes, they are not a real substitute for whole foods after a training session. High-quality whole foods are rich in micronutrients and fiber that are essential for your overall well-being. Unless you’re pressed for time, choose a meal made from whole foods after your workout whenever possible.
Before you eat after training, it’s important to replenish the lost fluids. If you eat first, your stomach will be full and you’ll have trouble drinking enough water. It’s a good idea to start drinking small sips as soon as you’re done with training to intake as much fluid as possible. Once you’ve been drinking water for 30-45 minutes, you can start with your meal. If you've been sweating a lot, consider beverages with electrolytes like coconut water, milk, tea, or water with lemon to restore the balance of fluids in your body.
While post-workout meals are a science in their own right, they aren’t necessarily hard to prepare. Here are a few easy examples:
Whether you’re located near Magnolia Park or in the northern part of town, Maximum Fitness is your go-to recreation center in Vacaville and the surrounding areas. We boast a professional team of attentive personal trainers and the latest in training equipment and tech. With a state-of-the-art gym, indoor pool, and personalized training plans, our team will help you develop a regime to help you feel, eat, and sleep better.
For advice on preparing the best pre-training meals and tips on what not to eat before workout and what meals to skip after exercise, give us a call or drop by our recreational center. We’re here to get your body moving and help you achieve your potential so contact us today!