Post Workout Nutrition and Why it's Important for EVERYONE
Regardless of the exercise type, your muscles use glycogen stores for fuel, which could lead to depletion of glycogen after workouts. By eating the right foods after exercising, you will help speed up and support the rebuilding and repairing process of your muscles and promote the growth of lean body mass (which in turn boosts metabolism and can increase weight loss).
Three reasons post workout nutrition is important
Boost energy and minimize fatigue
Your body uses all its fuel to get through your workout, don’t leave it empty. This can cause fatigue and low energy levels, as well as higher calorie consumption throughout the day.
Build lean muscles and increase metabolism
The way your muscles grow is by first creating micro-tears during exercise. Protein fills this small tears. Repair and growth actually happens after exercise with the proper nutrition support. Lean muscle mass also correlates with increase and metabolism. Yay!
Replete fluid and potential electrolyte losses
Sweat equals fluid loss; rehydration is key after exercise.
Workout days usually require higher a macro-nutrient (proteins, carbs, and fats) intake than sedentary days. Meals should be planned around the type of exercise performed.
What to eat?
Eat fairly soon after your workout, ideally within 30 minutes. This does not have to be a huge meal, aim for a 200-300 calorie snack containing proteins and carbohydrates (think chicken and berries or collagen peptide smoothie). The protein and carbohydrate combo will boost new muscle growth, as well as recovery. If you are performing an endurance activity, such as running for a long duration, you may need a higher amount of carbohydrates post workout.
Vitamin C is great for muscle recovery when paired with high quality proteins. Vitamin C is required to make a protein called collagen and for repairing tendons and ligaments. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, as well as strawberries, potatoes, broccoli and bell peppers.
Most high intensity exercise depletes magnesium due to its use in ATP production (the energy system of the body). You may have higher requirements with exercise. Dark leafy greens, like spinach, seeds, yogurt, almonds and beans are high in magnesium, but might not be enough. Consider a magnesium supplement. Feel free to ask me if one is right for you!
Drink water!!! Aim for about 20oz of water post workout to restore fluid loss. You typically do not need electrolyte replacement drinks (Gatorade) if your workout remains within an one hour long.
Focus on easy to digest foods to increase nutrient absorption, such as:
Carbohydrate group: sweet potatoes, fruits (banana, berries, orange), rice cakes, and winter squashes
Protein group: Eggs, Greek yogurt, chicken, bison, salmon, white fish, and collagen peptides
Fat group: Avocado, nuts and seeds.
My recommended post workout snacks
Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables
Egg omelet with avocado
Salmon with sweet potato
Wild salmon salad sandwich on rice cakes
Apple and hummus
Berries and granola
Protein shake (made with collagen peptides) and banana
Boiled egg and clementine