Maybe you’ve found yourself in this situation. You’ve just finished up an intense workout and you’re heading out the door onto the next part of your day. You hadn’t really thought about your post-workout meal, but now that you’ve burned all of those calories, that granola bar in your bag isn’t looking so great. What you really want is something savory, greasy, and filling.
Plus, you deserve a treat, right?
Or, maybe you’re at the other end of the spectrum, that eating after a workout is counterintuitive. After all, if you just spent all of that time burning calories, why would you automatically replace them? Surely it’s better to eat something light like an apple or some carrot sticks?
Well, according to extensive research, it’s much more beneficial for your body to refuel with a strategically-planned meal filled with nutrient-rich ingredients. More specifically, your body wants something heavy in carbs and protein.
That probably seems like a pretty radical statement, so let’s get into the nitty-gritty of your post-workout meal.
Carbohydrates and Protein
When you exercise, you put a lot of strain on muscles, creating small tears and damage in the tissue. That’s the part that we usually think of when we’re planning on running so many miles or doing so many sets of weight-lifting. But, in biological terms, that’s just the beginning of muscle toning. The process of regrowth, or protein synthesis, occurs after you’ve finished your routine, which means that post-workout nutrition is extremely important.
The post work-out meal needs to give you two things: the energy to regrow tissue and the tools, or amino acids, needed to build mass. The most efficient way to get this is by eating complex carbs, which provide the long-term energy perfect for recovery, as well as protein, which will give you the amino acids needed for synthesis.
If you’re looking for the perfect mix of the two, try to fill your plate with some combination of the following:
- Vegetables - to get carbs from these nutrient-rich ingredients, look for fibrous veggies like leafy greens, celery, and broccoli
- Starches - you’re looking for non-processed grains and oats, such as quinoa, grain pasta or brown rice
- Protein - sure, you can go for the protein shake, but there are a few food-based sources that are great as well like chicken, salmon, tofu, or eggs
One thing your body is really good at is letting you know the prime time that you should eat after your workout. In other words, those hunger pangs right after you exercise are a reminder that it’s time to refuel for better recovery. Ideally, you should eat something substantial within two hours.
That said, what’s more important than the timing of your meal is the quality of your food. If you can follow the above nutrition guide for carbohydrates and protein while also making sure to time your meal within two hours of your workout, you’re already set to go!
Have your own perfect post-workout meal? We want you to share your own ideas with us at Kula Athletic and you can read more of our blogs here or to check out some of our latest Australian activewear & yoga clothes here.