Eating the right food after a workout is just as important as what you eat before the workout. After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair those muscle tissues which were depleted after the strenuous workout. It is important to have a post-workout snack to give your body the right nutrients to help it recover and to maximize the benefits of your workout. A post-workout snack with the right nutrients can help your body decrease muscle protein breakdown, increase muscle protein synthesis, restore glycogen stores, enhance recovery and helps stimulate the growth of new muscle.
Protein is a compound comprised of chains of smaller molecules known as amino acids. The amino acid is the basic building block of the body and is necessary for synthesizing the muscles. Protein is believed to maximize the body’s ability to recover after an exercise. A post-workout snack with an adequate amount of protein gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and build the muscle fibers, as well as encourage muscle growth.
The body’s main fuel source is glycogen. Glycogen is the storage form of glucose. It is composed of long strings of glucose molecules with numerous branches. The body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise. The main reason to have a post-workout snack loaded with carbs is to replenish the muscle glycogen that you burned during your workout. It has been confirmed by research that the best way to replenish muscle glycogen stores after workouts is to consume fast-digesting carbs after every workout.
A post-workout snack with both carbs and protein can help maximize protein and glycogen synthesis. It also enhances glycogen storage and muscle protein synthesis. The timing of your protein and carbs consumption in relation to your workout can influence the effectiveness of your fitness routine. Usually, this time frame ranges between 45 minutes to an hour post-workout.
Here are the top 7 post-workout snacks:
Find a protein shake that contains some carbs, or blend your shake with a carbs-rich snack like a banana. Whether you opt for whey protein or vegetarian/vegan powder, you can combine the big boost of protein with any number of add-ins, like fruit, peanut butter, and the milk of your choice.
Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as regular yogurt and is a great source of carbohydrates. It has the perfect balance of protein and carbs, making it an ideal post-workout snack. A cup of plain Greek yogurt can also help you meet the recommended dietary guideline of three daily servings of low-fat or nonfat dairy products. And it is best served with cereal or fruit.
Fruits offer the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs to replenish itself after an intense workout. They are loaded with healthy, easily digestible carbohydrates, as well as enzymes to help your body break down nutrients so they can be delivered to your tired muscles. The best post-workout fruits include bananas, raisins, pears, grapes, watermelon, and blueberries.
Whole-Grain Breakfast Cereal
Cereal is good any time of day. It is also a good post-workout snack. A small bowl of cereal with milk provides all the nutrition you need after a workout. Opt for a high-protein, high-fiber, and low-sugar cereal to help the body recover.
Eggs are the perfect post-workout food because they are rich in protein and are also a great source of many other nutrients, which help your body repair after an intense gym session. They also contain all of the essential amino acids your body needs to digest and absorb protein.
Eating cottage cheese after a workout gives your body protein and carbohydrates for post-exercise muscle recovery. Cottage cheese is made from the curds of pasteurized cow’s milk. It is an excellent source of casein, a protein just as effective at stimulating muscle growth as whey. It is also effective at preventing your muscles from breaking down after exercise.
Trail mix is a combination of a variety of nuts and other dry ingredients. An unsalted mix of nuts and dried fruits is extremely a nutrient-rich post-workout snack. It provides carbs, protein, and healthy unsaturated fats.
Quality post-workout nutrition assists muscle recovery and supports your healthy lifestyle and fitness goals. Consuming protein and carbs after a workout session may amplify your results and increase recovery, but it doesn’t make or break your success. In order to succeed, focus on the entire nutrition and training approach including consuming enough calories and protein during the entire day.