What do you eat after working out ?
A better Question is: What should you eat after working out ? And when should you eat it? Questions like this can prove mystifying to many people who are trying to improve their training performance.
Nutrition is a vital part of any fitness routine. The fuel you put in your body has a direct impact on your performance and growth. That having been said, the best way to provide your body with the nutrition it needs is to consider your goals. Here, I’ll offer an overview on the question of what should you eat after working out and why it matters.
Why does nutrition matter? The old adage that “you are what you eat” is no joke. Literally, the food that you eat is what feeds every cell in your body. With that in mind, would you rather feed yourself with nourishing food that will help build and maintain muscle? Or, would you rather feed yourself with things like corn chips and doughnuts? Listen, I’m not averse to treating yourself every now and again. But I also think that as a general rule, you have to strongly consider what you are putting in your body.
The New You Challenge strongly emphasizes nutrition as part of your training routine. To make it easier on you, we’ve even partnered with Diet-To-Go as a meal delivery service that can help you maintain a healthy diet without breaking the bank.
Now that I’ve given my nutrition talk, let’s weigh the subject of what and when you should eat with regards to workouts.
Should you eat before working out? There are varying opinions on whether or not you should eat before working out. It can depend on various factors including your personal preference, the time you work out, and more.
Many find that eating a balanced meal including healthy fats, protein, and minimal carbohydrates about 2-3 hours before working out puts them in a great place of energy for working out.
Others can’t stomach eating before a workout, but it may benefit them to have a small, nutrient-dense snack (such as half a piece of fruit, some nuts, or yogurt) for some energy.
Should you eat after working out? The short answer is yes, but let’s consider why. Basically, when you work out, your body uses up its glycogen stores for energy. This depletes your muscles, which have also been broken down during your workout, so it’s the ideal time to give them nutrition so that they can rebuild. So it’s necessary to give your body the proper fuel so that it can rebuild these stores, and so that the muscle protein can begin the process of rebuilding stronger. Basically, nutrition will help you gain the most bang for your buck from your workout.
When should you eat after working out? Don’t wait too long after your workout to eat. Take for instance this study which compared the protein synthesis of a group that had recently worked out versus one that had not. The study found that at 60 to 195 minutes post workout, the greatest activity was happening in the post-workout group in terms of protein synthesis. This means that you’d want to eat within 60 minutes of your workout, so that you could fuel muscle rebuilding.
What should you eat after working out? Since you are replenishing protein and glycogen stores, ideally your post workout fuel will include a balance of sources to rebuild. So, in a nutshell, here’s what you should eat after working out:
- Protein: A moderate amount of protein will help your muscle fibers rebuild. Examples of protein include protein powders or bars, lean meats, and dairy.
- Carbs: A small amount of high quality unrefined carbohydrates will aid in recovery of your glycogen stores. Examples of high quality carbohydrates include sweet potato, leafy greens, and oatmeal.
- Fat: High quality fat (“good fat”) can be helpful in terms of giving you long lasting energy post workout. Examples of good fats to consume post-workout include avocado, nuts, or nut butters.
One of my go-to fuel sources which can be used as a pre-workout meal or a post-workout recovery snack is my easy chocolate banana nut butter smoothie recipe. It comes together in five minutes and provides a myriad of nutrients and gives me great energy.
Obviously, how much you eat and exactly what you eat after a workout will depend on whether or not you’ve eaten beforehand. When you work with your team at the New You Challenge, you can best make the determination about what and how to eat after working out.
What is your go-to post workout meal or snack?