Are you taking the time to eat properly after your workouts? If not, you could be undoing all of that hard work you’ve been putting in the gym.
You see, during a workout, your body’s glycogen stores get depleted in order to provide you with the fuel you need to exercise.
It’s important that you restore your body’s glycogen after you’ve wrapped up a workout because it’s essential for post-workout recovery. It’s even more crucial after long, intense sessions when your body can revert into a catabolic state, which is also known as a muscle-wasting state. So, in order to restore the glycogen, you need to be smart about when you eat after you’ve hit the gym and what you eat.
Luckily, we have some post-workout nutrition tips that will help you find just the right meals to consume after a workout. With these tips in mind, you’ll be looking and feeling great every time after you hit the gym and all that hard work will soon pay off!
1. Time Your Post-Workout Nutrition Just Right
First, it’s important that you time your post-workout snack or meal just right. After you’ve finished a workout, your body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is actually improved. That’s why you want to eat carbs and protein shortly after the workout, which we’ll get into in a moment.
Now here’s the thing, you don’t have to eat something immediately after you leave the gym. You just want to make sure you eat something within 45-60 minutes that’s going to nourish and replenish your body. However, if you ate something not long before your workout, you can likely wait a little longer for that post-workout treat. It’s just best that you don’t wait any longer than two hours before you eat something.
Making smart choices with your food can help you see results much faster.
2. Consume Carbs to Help With Recovery
What’s the one thing you’ll want to consume after you’ve wrapped up your workout? Carbohydrates. The reason for this is that during a workout, your body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel to keep you going. By eating complex carbohydrates after your workout, you’re able to replenish them.
To make sure you’re getting plenty of carbs in, you’ll want to eat 0.5-0.7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. And you’ll want to do this within 30-45 minutes of finishing your workout. This is important because it helps with proper glycogen resynthesis. Not only that, but eating carbs and protein together stimulates insulin secretion, which also promotes glycogen synthesis.
If you’re looking for some great sources of healthy carbohydrates to eat, you can try: quinoa, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, or rice. Some people even swear by drinking chocolate milk after a workout, so that’s something you can try as well.
3. Find Healthy Sources of Protein to Repair & Build Muscle
Your muscles are important, which is why you don’t just want to eat carbs after a workout. You also need to consume some protein so you can repair and build muscle after you’ve finished at the gym. The reason for this is that exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein.
Of course, the level of that breakdown will depend on the exercise you do and your own level of training. However, it’s still important that you replenish your body by eating a decent amount of protein after training. This provides your body with the amino acids it needs in order to rebuild your muscle protein. It’s also going to be key in helping you build new muscle tissue so you can be strong and toned in the future.
But how much protein do you need? It’s recommended to have 0.14-0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight after your workout. This will help your body recover so you can build muscle and stay lean.
There are tons of protein sources you can turn to after a workout. You might consider fixing up a special high-protein meal. Organic, grass-fed red meat is a great option due to its high protein content. If you don't have a local butcher in your area, there are some meat delivery services such as Butcher Box that allow you to get high-quality meats. You can also make yourself a smoothie that has protein powder or fix a meal that includes salmon, tuna, chicken, or eggs. These are all great sources of protein that will help repair your body after a tough workout and get you physically ready for the next gym session.
4. Drink Plenty of Water to Stay Hydrated
Besides food, one of the most beneficial post-workout nutrition tips you cannot ignore is staying hydrated. This should come as no surprise, but sometimes it gets overlooked.
Because you expel water and electrolytes when you sweat while working out, you need to replenish your body as quickly afterwards to help with recovery. If you had a rather intense workout, you might consider having an electrolyte drink. While there are plenty of sports drink options, many contain massive amounts of sugar. You can always make your own with a little salt and sugar added to a glass of water.
5. Try Some Caffeine
If you’re a caffeine drinker, we have some good news for you. It may actually be smart to drink some after your workout! Why? It’s been shown to boost muscle strength and intensity when you drink it before a workout. However, it an also increase your metabolism and reduce post-workout muscle soreness.