It’s a widespread misconception among people that you shouldn’t eat after exercising, but that is completely wrong. It is best to eat something within one to two hours after you finish your workout. You need to eat a meal that contains both protein and carbohydrates to help your muscles recover and to replace their glycogen stores.
If you wait too long, your body will store the food as fat instead to ‘feed’ the muscles. It is advisable to have a small meal one to two hours after exercising. This period is called the ‘golden hour’ when the muscles will receive nutrients from the food that you consume and compensate the lost energy.
What to eat to eat after a workout?
Many people feel very hungry after exercising, and it can cause them to overeat and consume the wrong kind of foods. Don’t think that you should eat everything in unlimited quantities because you did a full workout. If you count your calories, then you should consume 50% of the calories that you burned with your physical activity. For example, if you burn 500 calories, you can consume 250 calories after your workout.
The food that you eat after exercising, should contain protein and good carbohydrates to help your muscles recover. You need the carbohydrates to fuel up your muscles with glycogen so they can be ready for your next workout. Ideally, you’ll need to consume around 30-50 grams of carbohydrates after every long workout.
Proteins are also very important to help your muscles recover and repair after a long workout. It’s also important to consume some quality proteins so your body won’t ‘break down’ the muscles for energy. Ideally, your after-workout meal should contain around 10-20 grams of quality protein.
Some examples for after workout meals
Eating healthy and combining carbohydrates and quality protein doesn’t have to be boring. There are tons of healthy recipes to choose from and to have a different meal everyday. Here are a few examples that will hopefully inspire you for your next after workout meal:
- Grilled chicken breast and vegetables
- Low fat chocolate milk
- Omelet filled with vegetables
- Scrambled eggs on a whole-grain toast
- Grilled salmon and vegetables
- Whole wheat tuna sandwich
- Low fat yogurt with fruit
- Smoothie with protein powder
- Protein bar
- Nuts and dried fruit
Make sure that you drink a lot of water
Make sure that you consume plenty of fluids and not just after workout, but also before and during exercising. Usually your body will lose about 4 cups water in one hour of intense exercise. Therefore, try to drink 2-3 cups of water before exercising, 3-4 cups while you exercise and 2-3 cups after exercising. If you sweat a lot or exercise when the weather is warm, then you should try to drink more water.
Sport drinks are also a way to stay hydrated especially if you exercise for couple of hours and you do a really intense workout. When you sweat your body loses electrolytes and minerals and sport drinks will help you to maintain your electrolyte balance and stay hydrated. Also, sport drinks contain some carbohydrates so they can give you a bit more energy.