Post Workout Nutrition
W e put a lot of effort into our daily workouts. From trying to lift heavier or run faster, our body uses a lot of energy during this short amount of time. What we eat after a workout is just as important as what we eat before. Post workout nutrition looks a bit different from pre workout. In a previous blog post about pre workout nutrition, you can recall, emphasis was placed on carbohydrates for energy before a workout. With post workout nutrition, we shift our focus on another macro nutrient, protein. Our body needs different nutrients at different times for different activities. This is why you will see a change in nutrition recommendations for certain scenarios.
So that you can understand why your body needs what it needs, let’s go through what happens when you workout. When we workout, glucose ( carbohydrates) are the first source of fuel. Our body breaks down the glycogen in our muscles for energy. Glycogen is the stored form of glucose, we can find glycogen in our liver and muscle cells. During our workout, our muscles are also being broken down. This is why post workout should emphasise protein to help rebuild our muscles and allow them to grow as well as carbohydrates to replenish our energy stores. Fuelling yourself properly after a workout helps with recovery, decreases protein breakdown in the muscles and increases muscle growth.
Examples of post workout snacks:
Protein shake & banana
Egg Whites and veggies
Whole grain wrap with turkey and veggies
All of these options have protein and carbohydrates to help replenish our energy stores and rebuild our muscles. Protein intake post workout should contain about fifteen to thirty five grams depending on body weight.
In regards to the timing of post workout, it is not necessary to eat directly after a workout. It may take you time to come home from the gym and that is okay. As long as you are fuelling yourself, your body will continue to distribute the nutrients as needed. Overall, it is recommended to consume a post workout thirty minutes to two hours after a workout. This recommendation comes from the thought that we have an anabolic window. An anabolic window is the time when the intake of food aids in increasing muscle mass. Current research shows that an anabolic window is not only open after a workout but can be open before and during a workout.Therefore, the nutrients eaten before a workout can also aid in post workout recovery if you had eaten two to three hours before the end of your workout. If you prefer to have a meal after a workout instead of a snack then that works as well. As long as you are replenishing yourself post workout, the amount of food you eat can match your appetite. The nutrition you consume also needs to match your goals. While it is important to fuel before and after a workout, if your goal is weight loss then calories still need to be taken into consideration.
Most important after a workout is hydration! Besides what you eat, drinking enough water to stay hydrated is very important. Water helps with building muscle as well. Protein synthesis does not happen if we are not well hydrated! Dehydration can lead to feelings of drowsiness, dizziness and rapid heart beat. It is something that can easily happen after an intense workout so the first thing to do after a session is drink a glass of water.
Food is fuel. Skipping post workout nutrition does not benefit you. A workout can lower your blood sugar leaving you feeling drowsy, confused and fatigued. Proper nutrition helps you to have energy to accomplish everything you need to throughout the day and allow for muscle recovery and growth. You are able to adjust your post workout nutrition to fit into your goals. Follow your hunger cues, hydrate and choose a mixture of protein and carbohydrates to refuel.