Why is it important to eat post-workout and what should you eat?
Why Should I Eat After a Workout?
- Progress: Consuming the needed calories post-workout is going to help you progress in your fitness goals faster than waiting for a long period after. Why put in all the time and effort to get back fewer results?
- Muscles: During exercise, whether it be lifting weights or aerobic activity, your muscles are depleted of glycogen for fuel. You need this glycogen to store glucose in your body which gives you energy. Your muscles start to be remodeled (tearing off old muscle fibers to create newer, stronger ones), but this process only takes place if you provide your body with the necessary nutrients.
What do I eat?
- Carbohydrates: Your post-workout meal should be high in carbohydrates because during your exercise you used most of that energy source to keep your muscles fueled. It is recommended to eat about 0.8 grams of carbs per 1 kilogram of your bodyweight to provide the best results and increase protein synthesis. This is also dependent upon what type of exercise you do, so if you are running or swimming you may need to consume more carbohydrates than someone who is bodybuilding.
- Protein: During exercise, protein synthesis (muscle growth) decreases while protein breakdown increases so in-taking protein immediately after a workout allows your muscles to replenish and grow. It is recommended to eat around 0.4 grams per 1 kilogram of your bodyweight.
- Fats: Fats slow down the digestion and absorption of the carbohydrates and proteins, but do not think you cannot have any fats after you workout. It is okay!
- Whole Foods: quinoa, sweet potatoes, fruits, rice cakes, pasta, potatoes, Greek yogurt, chicken, salmon, tofu, egg whites, tuna, cottage cheese
- Supplements: protein shakes, protein bars
When do I eat?
- “Window of Opportunity”: It is important to eat immediately after your workout. Your muscles are depleted and need to be replenished with the appropriate food in-take. This will also allow your muscles to recover better and to their full extent. The sooner the better when in-taking your protein and carbohydrates. The effects of eating even an hour later are less than when you eat right after.