Good pre-and post-workout nutrition is critical for fuelling energy, building lean muscle and effective recovery.
Why is post-workout nutrition important?
Post-workout nutrition depends on your individual goals, genetics, and the intensity of training. After exercise, you need to replenish with protein and carbohydrates to help:
- repair torn muscle tissues (protein)
- replenish glycogen stores (what gives us energy).
If training results in excessive sweating, you might need an electrolyte replacement during or post-workout.
What happens if I neglect post-workout nutrition?
If you notice low energy and increased muscle soreness and fatigue, you may not be recovering correctly. Generally, poor post-workout nutrition may cause:
- Increased fatigue (during exercise and throughout the day)
- Reduced performance at your next training session
- Unsatisfactory gains from the session
- Increased muscle soreness
How long should I wait to eat after a workout?
The post-workout eating window for optimal recovery is 15 to 30 minutes. Start drinking water immediately after your training session. Even a snack or meal 60 to 90 minutes post-workout is effective.
Your body will continue to recover over the next 12 to 24 hours so be sure to eat a variety of foods (complex carbs, protein, fat and fibre). Refer to the list of complex carbs and proteins below.
What should I eat after a workout?
A post-workout meal should consist of:
- carbohydrates to replenish energy
- lean protein to promote muscle repair
- water/fluids and electrolytes for hydration
15 - 25 g
Fat consumption does not help with recovery from a workout but is essential for meal satiety. Fat helps fill us up because it delays gastric emptying. High-fat meals, and snacks, should always be eaten post-workout.
If taking sports nutrition supplements, during or post-workout is the perfect time to drink your BCAAs for hydration, muscle soreness and to assist in building lean muscle.
To build a post-workout meal, choose a complex carb like:
|oatmeal||brown rice||sweet potatoes|
|quinoa||whole-grain products||any fruit|
Pair your complex carb with lean protein to promote muscle repair.
Examples of lean protein:
- Turkey or chicken breast
- Lean ground beef
- White fish
- Shrimp + shellfish
- Pork tenderloin/ loin chop
- Tofu + soy products
- Nut/nut butters
- Eggs + egg whites
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
More Meal and Snack Ideas
- Egg omelet and whole-grain toast
- Salmon with sweet potato
- Oatmeal mixed with protein powder, banana and almonds
- Pita and hummus
- Rice crackers and peanut butter
- Fruit smoothie made with protein powder or greek yogurt
- 1 slice whole-grain bread with peanut butter
- Protein bar + piece of fruit
- Energy ball
- Rice cake with peanut butter and banana sliced on top
- Protein shake + 1/4 c dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, banana)
- BCAA drink + 1/4 c dried fruit/trailmix
- 1/3 c trail mix (nuts/seeds + dried fruit)
- Bowl of high fibre cereal or oatmeal with yogurt and berries
- Fresh fruit salad topped with Greek yogurt
- Spaghetti with lean beef with tomato sauce
- Chicken on a whole grain tortilla or pita
- Burrito bowl
- Tuna on crackers plus a banana
You will need to experiment with different foods to learn what is best for your body pre and post-workout. Proper nutrition is essential to help you optimize your performance and reach your goals.
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