What you eat after your sweat session helps determine the benefits your body reaps.
Exercising requires energy. So, your body taps into its muscle glycogen stores for fuel, especially during high-intensity workouts. Muscle proteins also break down when you exercise.
After a workout, your body needs food to restore its energy supply. Eating the proper nutrients will help replenish muscle glycogen and stimulate protein synthesis to repair and build new muscle tissue.
What your body needs
Your body needs carbohydrates and protein after a workout.
Carbs help replenish the body’s glycogen levels, while protein promotes muscle healing and helps minimize lean muscle loss.
Simple vs. complex carbs
There are two types of carbs: simple and complex. Knowing the difference is important. Simple carbs quickly deliver glucose to your muscles, but complex carbs provide long-lasting energy.
Simple carbs include candy, sugary cereals, cookies, white rice, white bread, and pasta. These foods can give you quick energy, but it doesn’t last long.
Eating complex carbs such as whole-wheat bread, oats, beans, quinoa, nuts, fruits, and vegetables is better for recovery.
There are plenty of healthy protein options for your post-workout meal. Good choices include yogurt, eggs, nuts, whey protein, lean turkey, or chicken.
A healthy balance
Try these carb and protein combinations:
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Peanut butter and banana
- Peanut butter and whole wheat bread
- Almond butter and apple
- Oatmeal with fruit and nuts
- Coconut water smoothie with whey protein and berries
- Turkey and cheese on whole-wheat bread
Try to avoid sugary, fried, or high-fat foods. These choices don’t provide your muscles with the proper nutrients and may cause stomach distress.
And don’t forget to replace the water you lost swaeting. Rehydrating with plain water is your best option.
Choose a good balance of healthy carbs and protein to reduce fatigue, strengthen your muscles, and prepare your body for the next workout.