There is lots of conflicting nutrition, health and fitness advice around.
Some people believe in cutting out carbs and hitting the cardio hard, while others believe in going high fat and resistance training. The one thing that most professionals agree on though is keeping active and following a balanced diet.
Just as crucial as what you eat before you exercise is the refuel after your workout.
Why post-workout meals are crucial
When you exercise regardless of what type, your muscle use their glycogen stores for fuel. This process may result in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen and some of the proteins in your muscles will be broken down.
After any exercise your body will immediately try to rebuild its glycogen stores as well as repairing and regrowing those broken down muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients after working out can help to speed this process up.
It is important not to undo the hard work you’ve done in your session but you should eat more than on sedentary days.
What to eat
It is important to eat both carbs and proteins after working out as these will help you rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores in addition to stimulating the growth of new muscles.
Consuming protein post-workout gives your body the amino acids you need to repair and rebuild muscles proteins. Aim to eat at least one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight over the course of any active day.
Eating carbs is important too. Your body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout will help to replenish them. This is where the type of exercise you do has an effect: endurance sports require your body to use more glycogen than resistance training, so runners or swimmers tend to need more carbs than bodybuilders.
Even when you’re trying to burn fat, eating fat after working out can genuinely help. Some research suggests that the likes of whole milk is more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skimmed milk. However, its important not to over consume fat after exercise as with every food group.
Which foods will help your recovery?
- Carbs: sweet or traditional potatoes, quinoa, fruits (berries or banana), oats, wholegrain pasta and rice, or dark leafy green vegetables.
- Protein: Eggs, Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese, salmon, chicken or tuna.
- Fats: Avocado or nuts.
Drinking plenty of water before and after exercise is alos crucial to replenish the fluids and electrolytes you sweat out.
Simple post-workout meal ideas
- Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables
- Egg omelette with avocado spread on wholegrain toast
- Salmon with sweet potato
- Tuna salad sandwich on wholegrain bread
- Pita and hummus
- Greek yoghurt, berries and granola
- Protein shake and banana
- Wholegrain bread with peanut butter spread
When to eat
Ideally you should eat within 45 minutes of finishing your exercise because your body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced after you workout.