Post-Workout Meals: What You Need to Know
You just had one of the best sweat sessions of your life. What do you do next?
Stare at my hot bod.
Of course! Seeing results of your hard work is awesome, not to mention motivating. It makes you want to work harder. It makes you feel like you can do some more—perhaps another set of burpees?
While your will to go the extra mile to make sure your body is getting the “ripping” it deserves is truly inspiring, you may want to do something just as important as working your glutes off, like eating. Some people think that eating after exercising puts their hard work to waste. Well, not necessarily.
Why Should You Eat After Your Workout?
The idea is to eat about 50% of the amount of calories you burned during your workout. Eating more than that—not eating, is what puts your hard work to waste. Well, that, and eating the “wrong foods”. If there are people who think eating after their workout is a bad idea, there are those who think that they can eat whatever they want because they worked out.
I worked out today so I can eat this cheeseburger! And Oh! I’ll have that steak as well.
Exercising doesn’t give you a license to eat whatever you want. What it gives you is the opportunity to eat better—sort of eating your way to beach body.
It’s easy to binge eat on unhealthy foods when you don’t exercise. The “guilt” at the back of your mind is not even there to begin with. But, when you exercise, you tend to remember all the hard trainings you’ve been through in hopes of achieving the body you’ve always wanted and hear a small voice ask you ‘do you really want to eat that?’ every time you feel like eating foods you shouldn’t eat.
Remember that time you were running and you thought your heart was going to explode? You wanted to stop because you thought you were going to die. But you didn’t stop and you most certainly didn’t die. That’s the kind of hard work you don’t want to go to waste.
Bottom line: what you eat after your workout can make or break the results of your hard work.
What Should You Eat?
I’m sure I need protein for my muscles.
Sure, protein is important for your muscles—yes, the ones you can’t stop flexing ever since the day you knew they existed. Just look at those biceps!
But, know that carbohydrates are just as important.
Any form of exercise depletes muscle glycogen stores (think of them as energy reserves, what your body uses to do things) and lifting weights creates small tears in your muscles. It may sound scary but it’s all part of “the process”, really. It’s the only natural way for your muscles to experience growth. And how can you help aside sweating it out? It’s really simple: eat.
Think of it this way: the foods that you eat provide the substances needed to build and repair damaged muscle tissues and replenish the energy stores used during your workout.
Stick to a combination of carbs and protein.
Carbohydrates help replenish depleted glycogen stores while protein provides the amino acids necessary to rebuild damaged muscle tissues.
Top 5 Post-Workout Meals You Should Definitely Try
1. Peanut butter and banana on toasted whole wheat bread
Or better known as PB & B toast (I like things complicated, just so you know).
A 2-tablespoon serving of PB provides 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of carbohydrates. While peanut butter is inarguably yummy, (I tell you: it is inarguable!) you may want to get the bottle with the least number of ingredients. You know the drill: foods containing ingredients you can’t pronounce or even read go to the “should not eat” category of your trying-to-eat-healthy diet’s list.
2. Low-fat chocolate milk
Because it’s chocolate and milk in one! Who wouldn’t want it?
Low-fat chocolate milk makes an awesome post-workout drink. Aside from being delicious, it contains the right protein to carbohydrate ratio necessary to replenish depleted glycogen stores and repair damaged muscle tissues. Not to mention it can easily be absorbed by your body. So, expect your glycogen stores filled in no time!
Smoothies are refreshing! It’s one of the most convenient post-workout drinks you can have. All you need is a blender, the “right” ingredients and patience to wait until your drink is completely blended. We want a combination of carbohydrates and protein so make sure that the ingredients you put in your blender provide these macronutrients. Try blending 2 scoops of whey protein powder and ½ piece of banana—whey protein as, well, protein source and banana as your source of carbs. Also, try adding spinach for a super green power boost!
4. Non-fat Greek yogurt topped with fruit slices
What makes Greek yogurt stand out among other yogurts in the supermarket?
A typical 6-ounce serving packs 15 to 20 grams of protein and 5 to 8 grams carbohydrates, providing double the protein and half the sugar content its regular counterpart gives. Top with some fruit slices and you’re good to go!
5. Veggie omelette
You probably heard or even seen gym-goers chug egg whites—ew! What were they thinking? Sure, eggs are excellent source of high-quality protein but there are a lot more ways to include them in your diet aside from, ugh, eating (drinking?!) them raw.
One egg contains roughly 6 grams of protein and contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs, making it your best bet for a good post-workout food. Whether you eat them fried, scrambled, or boiled, they are loaded with nutrients needed to properly nourish your body.
Try making an omelette—yes, include the yolk and not just egg whites because it contains most of the vitamins and minerals. Add some vegetables (because you can never go wrong with veggies) for nutrient boost.
1. Timing Your Nutrition – http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442463964
2. 7 Smart Post-Workout Snacks and How to Know When You Really Need One – http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness-programs-article/3281/ACEFit-workout-advice-and-exercise-tips/
3. Green Yogurt Vs. Regular Yogurt: Which Is More Healthful – http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/diet/articles/2011/09/30/greek-yogurt-vs-regular-yogurt-which-is-more-healthful