In a previous post, we went over what your pre-workout meal should consist of to perform at optimal levels and to receive desired results. Now, just as important is your post-workout meal. If we don’t have a proper post-workout meal, we will hinder our results, have greater fatigue, and an exaggerated recovery time.
So why is a post-workout meal important?
Enhances your recovery time
Rebuilds damaged tissue during the training session
Refuels your depleted glycogen stores
Helps facilitate body composition alteration
Aids in hormonal, enzymatic, and anabolic functions
In the pre-workout article, we went over what the macronutrients are (carbohydrates, fats, and protein), what their purpose serves in our body, and why we need them before our training. Now, we are going to go over what their purpose is in a post-workout meal and why we should be consuming them.
Typically, if you’re trying to reduce body fat percentage, you want a lower carbohydrate intake. Ideally, you want to avoid starchy carbohydrates throughout the day. The best time to consume starchy carbohydrates is in your post-workout meal because your body can utilize the sugars more efficiently as blood sugar and glycogen in the muscle, without converting it and storing it as adipose tissue (excess fat).
Why are carbohydrates important in my post-workout meal?
Restore your depleted muscle glycogen (your muscle’s fuel)
Enhance the role of insulin in transporting nutrients into cells
However, we don’t want to consume junk food just because our body absorbs carbohydrates better post-workout. If you continuously consume too much simple sugar post-workout, it will have adverse effects on performance. As always you will still want to stick with the basic nutritional guidelines of whole foods and complex carbohydrates.
Protein is one of the more important macros when it comes to post-workout meals because it aids in the growth of muscle and muscle recovery. This should always be a priority when you’re consuming a post-workout meal/drink.
Why is protein important in my post-workout meal?
Aids in muscle building
Repair damaged tissue
Promote anabolic growth rather than catabolic breakdown
Promote protein synthesis
Has no positive or negative effect during post-workout ingestion.
What to Eat?
Eating a normal meal isn’t always ideal after training, but nothing wrong if you do. Eating whole food can be hard for individuals because they don't always feel as hungry right after a workout. A liquid form of a post-nutrition meal may be more ideal because:
Can accelerate recovery due to quicker digestion and availability of nutrients
Can result in rapid digestion and absorption
Can be more tolerable than whole foods post workout
Examples of what to eat if you’re interested in eating whole foods could be:
4 oz. of chicken
Cup of veggies
Greek yogurt with fruit
If you’d rather have liquid nutrition, some examples could be:
1 scoop of whey protein
Handful of choice of fruit (berries, cherries, bananas, etc.)
1 tbsp. of flaxseed
8-12 oz. of milk or water
½ cup of plain Greek yogurt
½ cup of milk
1 tbsp. of natural peanut butter
Handful of spinach
½ tsp. of vanilla
You can get creative with your post-workout nutrition!
Tips and Suggestions
A rule of thumb for creating your post-workout meal or drink is for every hour of training time, ingest 30g of carbohydrates and 15g of protein.
Try to consume your post-workout mini meal or drink as soon as your workout is done. The closer you ingest to your training, the better benefits you’ll receive.
Try to consume a normal meal within two hours of training.
If losing body fat is your main priority rather than performance goals, then consume only BCAAs as a post-workout drink
About 5g if you weigh less than 200 lbs.
About 15g if you weigh more than 200 lbs.
If you have any questions or need help with getting your nutrition on track, feel free to get in contact with Kevin Darling, NSCA-CPT, FMS-1, PN-1.