What to eat after a workout?
Post workout nutrition has had a lot of attention over the years. Here we’ll look to establish some clear guidelines on what to eat after a workout. That way you can make the most out of your training and really start to see those gains.
The number one thing you need to be looking at here is carbohydrates. We hear a lot about protein as a post workout meal and often carbs are vilified by those looking to lose weight. However, no food group is bad, and carbohydrates play a huge role in our recovery. You can see more in our previous blog on Carbs here.
Carbohydrates are our primary energy source for exercise and stored in the muscles as glycogen. After exercise we need to replenish these stores and eating some fast-acting carbohydrates is the quickest way of doing this. These carbs will also help repair your muscles and reduce fatigue post exercise.
Ok so how much carbohydrate do you need? Well this really depends on the type, duration and intensity of the exercise you have done. For the casual exerciser in the gym roughly 40g of carbohydrates will be enough.
Protein is still a very important and we need to get good levels of protein into our diet to maximise the training we do. It’s important to hit your daily protein goal and it makes sense to try and get some of this protein in just after exercise. Why is it so important? Because it repairs your muscles and helps build bigger stronger muscle fibres after you have broken them down during your training.
So how much do you need? Roughly 10-20g of protein post workout can be enough, depending on your bodyweight. If you completed more weight training in your workout you may need a little more. More aerobic training would mean you would need more carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen stores.
An important and often overlooked aspect of recovery nutrition are fluids. The body can lose approximately a kilo per hour of exercising through sweat and evaporation. More in hot environments. This fluid needs replacing so try and think about getting a litre of water back onboard, per hour of exercising.
This is another important part of recovery especially for endurance/aerobic training. Losing water through sweat and breath also means you lose important minerals and salts. Sodium, chloride, calcium and potassium are vital for your body and will need replenishing after prolonged endurance training. Add an electrolyte tablet into your water bottle after training.
So what to eat after a workout? Taking all these factors in to account what are the best options post workout.
- A smoothie – go for a protein rich smoothie. The fruit will give you the carbohydrates you need and adding whey protein powder is easy and gets you that hit of protein.
- Milk/Shake – natures own protein shake. Milk is a great source of protein and has carbs too in the form of sugars (flavoured milk has more). As well as minerals and vitamins. Going for a low fat option will make digestion easier.
- Yoghurt, fruit and granola – Greek yoghurt gives you the protein with vitamins and carbs coming from the fruit and granola. Maybe add some water here.
- Eggs on toast – Eggs are a great source of protein and with wholemeal toast you get the carbohydrates your body needs. Add a glass of water to this meal.
Post workout nutrition is an important part of your health and fitness, don’t let your hard work in the gym go to waste by not fuelling your recovery. Remember carbs, protein, fluids and electrolytes.