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Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout

If you want to get in shape, you should understand that working out is only one piece of the puzzle. When you work out, you put a lot of stress on your body, which means you need to make sure you get the right nutrition after exercising to keep your muscles healthy. Swimming, jogging, biking, and lifting weights are all great exercises, but completing your workout isn’t the end of the challenge. You also need to make sure you get the right nutritional balance after exercise so you can restore energy levels.

Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout
Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout

You don’t need to eat a ton after your workout, but it’s a mistake to avoid eating,” says Leslie Bonci, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Active Eating Advice in Pittsburgh.

Exercising uses a lot of energy, and it can be difficult for the body to recover if energy levels are not replenished within 15 to 30 minutes after finishing a workout. Eating even a little snack shortly after exercising can help to restore energy levels.

Post Workout Snack - is this important?

After a workout, it’s important to refuel with recovery foods. This will help your body combat low blood sugar and give you the energy needed for muscle growth. If you don’t replace glycogen stores, you could experience fatigue, excessive soreness, or even injury.

Post Workout Snack - is this important?
Post Workout Snack - is this important?

After a good workout, it’s important to eat the right foods to recover and help you reach your fitness goals. Protein and carbohydrates are essential for muscle growth and fat burning, so make sure you include them in your post-workout meal.

Athletes use dietary strategies to improve their performance during workouts. In order for them to optimize their results, they need to eat carbohydrates and proteins following their workouts. However, this is only effective if they also have adequate amounts of fluids. Without the right nutrients, athletes’ performance can be hindered.

Exercise can leave your muscles starved for nutrients. Without refueling, your body will have a hard time repairing tissue damage from workouts and building muscle mass. Skipping meals after a workout can worsen the situation and prevent your body from functioning at its best.

What to eat post-workout?

To get the most out of your post-workout meals, you need to eat the right foods. Carbohydrates, protein, and fats are all important nutrients for recovery. Eating them from the right sources will give your body the nutrition it needs to rebuild and recover.

Here is how each macro replenishes the body.

  • Carbs: Because working out uses up your body's glycogen stores, it's vital to put some gas back in your tank by consuming carbs. Simple carbs, such as white rice and sugars, are quick to digest, making them perfect for recovery and fueling your muscles to prevent further breakdown. Complex carbs, such as whole grains and vegetables, take longer to digest and provide long-lasting energy for later use.

  • Proteins: Protein is the secret to promoting muscle repair and growth after a workout, especially strength training. As you exercise, your muscles endure micro-tears that break down the protein in your body. Getting enough amino acids through protein will help your body repair this damage and build more muscle. Make sure you stick with lean proteins like poultry, fish, and Greek yogurt to maximize your protein sources.

  • Fats: Though your body most likely won't deplete its storage of fats during a workout, consuming a small portion of healthy fats after exercising may provide anti-inflammatory properties that aid in recovery. While there's no need to avoid fats after working out, be careful not to overindulge. Remember, not all fats are the same — ensure you're consuming unsaturated fats with your post-workout snacks.

Foods to eat after workout
Foods to eat after workout

The cornerstone of post-workout nutrition is a careful combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fluids. The basic recommendation is to consume 10 to 20 grams of protein after a workout, depending on your body weight, says Bonci. And depending on the type of exercise you completed, adjust your ratio of carbohydrates to protein, she adds.

For instance, after a strength-training workout, aim for a 2-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein (meaning 20 to 40 grams of carbs and 10 to 20 grams of protein). If you completed an endurance (aerobic)

workout like jogging, the ratio shifts to 3-to-1 (with 30 to 60 grams of carbs and 10 to 20 grams of protein), says Bonci.

Snacking after a workout can help the body replenish lost energy.

Before, During, and After: Drink Up

Hydration During Exercise
Hydration During Exercise

When you exercise, your body sweats and loses fluids that contain electrolytes. These electrolytes help keep your body's systems functioning properly. When the amount of water in your body changes, you can become dehydrated and experience a drop in electrolytes, resulting in symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and muscle cramping or weakness.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water during your workout! Not only will it help you stay hydrated, but it will also improve your performance. Health experts recommend drinking eight ounces of water every 15 minutes of your sweat session.

Make sure you have plenty of water. How much? Use the following guidelines:

Before exercise: About 2 to 3 cups

During exercise: About 1/2 to 1 cup every 15 to 20 minutes

After exercise: About 2 to 3 cups for every pound you lose during exercise (you can weigh yourself before and after your workout).

Before, During, and After: Drink Up
Before, During, and After: Drink Up

Is There a Right Time to Have Your Post-Workout Meal or Snack?

After working out, it’s important to make sure you have the right nutrients. The anabolic state theory says that there is a limited 30-minute window after working out in which the body is more efficient at delivering nutrients. Eating carbs and protein within this window is critical for repairing muscles, reducing muscle protein breakdown, and restoring energy.

Right Time to Have Your Post-Workout Meal or Snack
Right Time to Have Your Post-Workout Meal or Snack

What to Avoid Eating After a Workout

Avoid pure protein right after the workout, because your body will just use it as energy again,” says Collingwood. Also, steer

Foods to Avoid
Foods to Avoid

clear of foods that are mostly sugar (cookies, candy, and the like) or mostly fat like a handful of nuts (without yogurt or fruit to balance the fat) or fried foods. These choices won’t help replenish your muscles the way you need, and the high fat or sugar content could disagree with your gut. The right balance of carbs, protein, and fluids really is essential for post-workout recovery, says Bonci.

Suggesting some healthy Nutrition options for Post-workout-

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References -

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Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat and Drink After Exercise. (2021, 9 augustus). GATEWAY REGION YMCA. Geraadpleegd op 28 april 2022, van

R. Mohr, C. (2019, 10 september). Timing Your Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition. Eatright. Geraadpleegd op 10 juli 2019, van

Semeco, M. A. S. (2021, 12 april). Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout. Healthline. Geraadpleegd op 28 april 2022, van

What to Eat After a Workout: Post-Workout Nutrition, Timing, and Tips. (2021, 22 juni). Verywell Fit. Geraadpleegd op 28 april 2022, van

What to Eat Before and After a Workout. (2021, 2 augustus). WebMD. Geraadpleegd op 28 april 2022, van

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