You hit the gym and power through your workouts, but are you fueling your body sufficiently afterward? Exercise causes wear and tear on your body. The food you eat post-workout helps to heal your muscles to build them up even stronger. If you aren’t eating until hours later, or if you aren’t making the best food choices, you’ll end up weaker rather than stronger. Or, even worse, you may end up injured.
What to Eat After You Workout
The best foods for recovery include a mix of carbohydrate and protein along with plenty of fluid to replace sweat losses. Carbohydrates are used to replenish the muscle fuel you used during your workout while stimulating insulin release. Insulin, a growth hormone, helps your body to utilize protein better post-workout. The protein you consume repairs damaged muscle tissue while encouraging the development of new muscle. Refueling correctly after a training session will help decrease muscle soreness, increase muscle growth and bone mass, improve your fat-burning ability, and boost your immune function.
How Much? Shoot for 10-30 grams of protein post-workout, depending on your size (stick to 10-15 grams if you are smaller, and 20-30 grams if you are taller and more muscular). For carbohydrates, divide your weight (in pounds) in half, and aim for that many grams of carb.
Avoid eating foods high in fat and sugar as they can negate the effects of your workout.
When to Eat Post-Workout
You may have heard of “the window of opportunity,” referring to the time frame post-workout in which your muscles are primed to accept nutrients. While protein synthesis lasts for at least 48 hours after exercise, for best results you want to get in a post-workout meal or snack within two hours. This becomes even more important if you work out for more than an hour, or if you are doing two workouts in one day. If you don’t feed your body adequate nutrition fast enough, you won’t see as many benefits from your workout.
10 Meals to Maximize Your Workout Recovery
- 6 ounces of Greek yogurt with 1 cup of berries, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and ½ cup of granola.
- 1 serving of Nutty Chocolate Overnight Oats
- A whole wheat english muffin topped with 2 scrambled eggs and sliced tomato with an apple on the side.
- 4 ounces of cottage cheese topped with 1 cup of pineapple chunks and ½ cup of blueberries.
- Oats! Try one of these delicious, dietitian-approved recipes
- 1 whole wheat pita with ½ cup of edamame hummus.
- 12 ounces of chocolate milk blended with a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter
- 1 slice of whole wheat bread topped with 2 tablespoons of hummus and 3 ounces of turkey with 1 cup of grapes.
- Quinoa & Veggie Enchilada Verde
- 1 cup of pasta with a cup of tomato sauce, 3 turkey meatballs and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.
Share your favorite recovery tips with us in the comments below! If you need a little inspiration check out this post featuring tips from World Champion and Luvo Ambassador Natalie Coughlin.
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