What to Eat for the Best Results After a Workout
After a good workout, refueling with the right nutrients is essential. Carbs, protein and fat assist your body in its after-workout recovery. They help your body decrease the breakdown of muscle protein, stimulate new muscle growth and generally enhance recovery. Check our best workout meal recommendations.
Replenish Your Body After Exercising
When you exercise, you help your body strengthen muscles, lose weight, promote a healthy heart and more. But you also deplete certain essential elements. During a workout you partially use up your muscles’ glycogen stores and some proteins are damaged. After a workout, it’s important to help your body replenish glycogen stores, repair muscles and reload muscle proteins by consuming the right nutrients.
The amount of protein carbohydrates and fat you need to help your body recover after working out depends on the level of exercise and training.
Easily Digested Foods for Recovery
Fitness experts recommend a post workout meal with a 3:1 carbs-to-protein ratio within 30 to 45 minutes of exercising. For faster absorption of nutrients, eat foods that are easy to digest including those that follow.
Exercise causes a breakdown of muscle protein. Consuming post-workout protein helps repair and build muscle tissue. Studies show that eating 20-40 grams of protein can maximize your body’s recovery. It is recommended that a person consume .14 to .23 grams of protein after a workout. Protein-rich foods include:
- Protein powder
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Protein bar
Consume carbohydrates to help replenish your body’s glycogen stores. Because different kinds of exercise deplete glycogen at different levels, endurance activity such as running and swimming call for eating more carbs than if you were a bodybuilder. According to healthline.com, you should generally consume .5 to .7 grams of carbs per pound of your weight after exercise to resynthesize glycogen properly.
- Dark leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Chocolate milk
- Rice cakes
Although it’s a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercising, having a post workout meal that contains some fat can be good for you and won’t reduce the food’s benefits.
- Nut butters
- Trail mix with dried fruits and nuts
Quick and Easily Digestible Meals
Certain foods an food combinations can give you the nutrients needed after exercise in a single meal. Here are some extra post workout meal suggestions:
- Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread
- Cottage cheese with fruit
- Egg omelet with toast and avocado spread
- Cereal and skim milk
- Pita with hummus
- Quinoa bowl with pecans and berries added
- Raw nuts
- Rice crackers or whole grain toast with nut butter
- Greek yogurt, granola and berries
- Salmon with sweet potatoes
When it comes to health-enhancing, post-workout snacks, you have an impressive variety of expert-recommended options including:
- Larabar Peanut Butter Cookies. Features peanuts (protein), dates (carbs) and salt (electrolytes).
- Frozen Grapes. A refreshing way to boost electrolytes, fluids and muscle function.
- Rehydrate, restore electrolytes and refill glucose with about 4 cups of watermelon, which provides 50 grams of carbohydrates.
- Banana with Almond Butter. Bananas are low-calorie and provide potassium to replenish electrolytes lost in exercise. Add a couple tablespoons of almond or peanut butter featuring protein for muscle recovery, salt to balance electrolytes and healthy fats for the brain.
- Chocolate Milk. A great on-the-run snack, 1% chocolate milk treats your body to the perfect ratio of protein to carbs that help with muscle repair and replenishing energy stores.
- Tuna Roll-ups. Mix a small can of tuna with four ounces of nonfat Greek yogurt, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper and wrap in a tortilla.
- Turkey and Cheese Roll-ups. Cut a part-skim mozzarella cheese stick in half lengthwise and roll each half into a slice of roasted turkey breast. Just two roll-ups provide the calories, carbs and protein you need.
- Acai Blueberry Fruit Salad. A popular after-workout snack in Brazil, Acai and blueberries not only taste yummy, but also provide ample antioxidants and amino acids.
- Greek Yogurt with Fruit. Add a handful of blackberries, strawberries, raspberries or other berries to six or eight ounces of plain nonfat Greek yogurt for a tasty treat. This provides about 20 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber at a count of 150 calories.
- Peanut Butter Power Smoothie. This after-workout snack is made with a cup of skim milk, one-half a banana, a scoop of protein powder and two tablespoons of peanut butter. You come away with replenished energy stores while reducing post-workout soreness and inflammation.
- Strawberry Banana Protein Shake. Simply combine a couple of scoops of protein powder, a banana and strawberry slices with milk or water. This snack is especially good after an intense session in order to replenish calories and protein.
- Canned Tuna with Quinoa. After a good workout, stir a half-cup of quinoa into about 5 ounces of canned tuna for a snack filled with protein, carbs, fiber, B vitamins and iron.
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