Working out is important, but recovering after a workout is just as important – and as always, what you put into your body is essential for good results. Especially the meal you have right after a good sweat session.
In this post, I will take a look at why you should eat right after your workout and what you should eat.
There are multiple reasons why eating soon after you finished working out is highly recommendable. The following 4 reasons has been researched in multiple studies.
You should eat a post workout meal…
1. TO PREVENT MUSCLE BREAKDOW
After a tough workout you will have very small tears in your muscle fibers and your body need a lot of protein to rebuild the muscles. If you don’t get the necessary nutrients, your body will break down muscles even further to get protein for the repair.
2. TO INCREASE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS
After a tough workout the cells of your body are ready to take in nutrients. Your muscles will be very sensitive to insulin, so the carbs will help shuttle protein into your muscles and decrease the conversion of protein to fat.
3. FOR FASTER RECOVERY
When your muscles get the proper nutrients quickly, you’ll get less sore. And when your recovery time is shorter, you can workout more frequently and thereby become Wonder Woman even faster.
4. GLYCOGEN REPLENISHMENT
When you workout, especially with high intensity, your body will get energy from carbs, especially the glycogen stored in the muscles and liver, ready to be used whenever you need energy. During exercise, the glycogen stores become depleted. So not only do you need carbs to promote protein synthesis as mentioned before, but also to replenish energy stores.
The best time to eat is immediately after the workout and up to 2 hours afterwards if we’re talking strength training – for cardio, the window is 30 minutes, although this often debated. 
When deciding what to eat after your workout, you will need to find out what works best for you – some people have all the time in the world to cook a perfect meal, but others are always on the go. Some people workout for a long time and others for a short time, and this also influences on how hungry you feel, and the amount of food you have to eat after your workout.
No matter what you eat, it should be low in fat, because fat will slow the digestion and you will want your nutrients to reach the muscles as fast as possible. Even though lean meat is a great source of protein, it can take 3 to 4 hours to hit the bloodstream. Protein from whey, however, takes about 20-30 minutes, and is ideal combined with some carbs, perhaps in the form of fruit.
POST WORKOUT FOODS
Here’s some examples of food you might want to eat as (part of) your post workout-meal.
- Quinoa is a seed, but considered whole-grain. 100g quinoa (uncooked) contains 14g of protein.
- Eggs. 100g contains 12.6g protein – that is 6.3g for a large egg
- Cottage cheese. For every 100 grams of cottage cheese, you get 11.12g of protein
- (Chocolate) Milk. Not only does it tase good and sweet. A glass (225ml) contains about 8g of protein and 27g carbohydrates
- Chicken. 100g gives 25g protein, though the nutritional value varies a lot depending on what part of the chicken the meat comes from and how it is prepared.
- Beans. Contains both a lot of fiber and protein, but the exact value varies depending on what kind of bean it is.
- Pumpkin and watermelon seeds. Pumpkin sees have 33 grams of protein and water melon up to 31g per 100 grams of seed. (However the watermelon seeds contains 50% fat)
- Almonds contain 21.22 grams of protein for every 100 grams of raw almonds with skin. When an almond weighs about 1.2g, that makes 0.25g for every almond. Almonds also contains fat, but the good, essential kind.
- Tuna. Like almonds they contain healthy fat – like most fish, tuna is a good source of omega-3-fatty acids. It is also a great protein source – tuna from a can (drained) contains 29g pr 100 g. Another fish, Salmon, contains about 25g.
- Protein shakes are ideal to drink after your workout, if you are on the go. I often either have a protein shake or some milk after a workout – but it’s not necessary if you’re mindful about what food you pick.
Even though studies have found that the right post-workout meal is important in order to obtain good results, what you eat the rest of the day is important as well – you need to make smart, healthy choices throughout the day for optimal results.
So there are multiple benefits to gain by eating within an hour after your workout – especially if choose whole foods with plenty of protein and some carbs. They will prevent muscle breakdown and help you recover faster.
What’s your favorite postworkout meal? Let me know in the comments below!