Like a car uses gasoline, your body uses food as fuel. During exercise, some of that fuel is burned up and needs to be replenished. Eating the right foods after your workout will give your body what it needs to stay energized, but it will also help your body recover. By refueling with the right nutrients within two hours of your cool-down, you can help your muscles recover and replace their glycogen stores, which were burned during exercise.
So what is the ideal post-workout snack or meal?
Two things your body needs most after a workout are protein and “good” carbs, such as fruit, whole grains and vegetables. Some other good post-workout food choices include: lean meats, yogurt and fruit, a peanut butter sandwich, veggies and hummus, whole wheat pasta with meatballs, and chicken and brown rice.
And don’t forget the liquids. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a sports drink after exercising, unless you’ve just finished an intense, 90-minute or longer workout. Sports drinks help replenish electrolytes lost during an intense workout, but they are also often high in sugar. Skip the sports drinks and reach for water instead. To prevent dehydration, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends:
- Drinking roughly 2 to 3 cups of water during the two to three hours before your workout.
- Drinking about 1/2 to 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. Adjust amounts according to your body size and the weather.
- Drink roughly 2 to 3 cups of water after your workout for every pound of weight you lose during the workout.
If you’re on the go and don’t have time to prepare a meal or healthy snack after a workout, a protein shake or smoothie can help you refuel. If possible, make your own shake or smoothie using protein powder to avoid additives that may be in store-bought protein products. No matter your dietary requirements, there is a protein powder for you. Here’s a quick rundown on the various kinds of protein powder:
- Whey protein: Considered a “complete” protein, whey protein is derived from cow’s milk and is the best option if you want to build or maintain muscle.
- Casein protein: This is a great option if you’re using protein powder as a meal replacement or drinking it before bed.
- Egg white protein: If you don’t eat dairy, opt for egg white protein powder for a high-quality protein.
- Soy protein: Great option for vegans who want a plant-based complete protein to build muscle.
- Pea protein: If you prefer to avoid any animal-derived products as well as soy, pea protein is a good option. This is also a good choice for people who struggle with digestive problems.
When planning your post-workout meal or snack, avoid fatty foods and stick to whole foods as much as possible. You should also avoid processed, store-bought bars and drinks, which are often high in sugar.
Posted: 10/16/2015 by
Filed under: exercise, food, nutrition