If you are even reasonably serious about working out and living an active lifestyle, chances are you put a lot of thought into what you consume before you hit the gym or go out on an adventure.
Do you put the same amount of thought into what you eat afterwards?
You see, post workout meals are every bit as important as pre-workout meals, but they always seem to receive less thought. Consuming the right nutrients after you have been active however, is just as beneficial to your end results and recovery. Working out causes your muscles to use up their glycogen stores for fuel as well as some of the proteins in your muscles being broken down. Eating the right food after any physical activity helps you recover faster by decreasing muscle protein breakdown, increasing protein synthesis, and restoring lost glycogen.
With this in mind protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat will be your best friends post workout.
By eating protein you help repair and build your muscle after working them hard with amino acids. The amino acid found in protein is also important for helping to build new muscle tissue which keeps you strong and fit. Studies have shown consuming 20-40 grams of protein helps to maximize your body’s ability to recover after a good workout.
Carbs are helpful for replacing the glycogen stores you use for energy during a workout. Depending on what your activity of choice is you may need to consume more or less carbs. For instance, if you are into bodybuilding you probably won’t have to replace as much glycogen as an endurance runner would need to. You also may need to eat more carbs if you tend to workout twice or more a day in order to keep your glycogen store at a healthy level. It is recommended eating carbs and protein on a 3:1 scale to stay full and replenished.
Eating within 45 minutes of your workout will give you the most ideal recovery results because that is when your body is at its peak ability to rebuild glycogen and protein after exercise.
Now that you are more educated on why you need to eat a post physical activity meal, here are some foods you should consider:
Sweet Potatoes/Regular Potatoes
Dark, leafy greens