Eating after exercise
You made time in your schedule.
You put in the effort and the sweat.
As you make your way to the shower, your workout has become another part of the weekly tally and another notch in your fitness victory belt. Now, it's time for another extremely important component of your fitness success: the recovery.
Recovery is a very important aspect of a healthy fitness lifestyle. It includes, but is not limited to, adequate rest, stretching, massage, and, of course, proper nutrition. In fact, how you eat after your workout is so important that it can mean the difference between hit or miss progress and results-oriented success.
WHEN To EAT: There is a brief window of time when your body is most fired up, so to speak, and ready to maximally receive and use nutrients post workout. In simple terms, during your activity you used up vital energy stores from your muscles and liver (glycogen) and you "broke down" the muscles so they need to remodel themselves with building material (protein). Carbohydrates will give your body what it needs to replenish the glycogen, while lean protein offers your muscles what they need. A combination of these two should be eaten within an hour or two of your workout for optimal benefit.
WHAT To EAT: Complex carbs and lean protein. Healthy carbohydrate sources include whole grain foods (such as cereals, breads, and pastas preferably with no high fructose corn syrup or sugars added), vegetables (such as Romaine lettuce, spinach, and broccoli), brown rice, and fruit. Here are some ideas for quick healthy snacks.
More helpful tips:
- Do be careful and watch your your portion sizes. Just because you worked out doesn't mean you should pig-out.
- Don't let yourself get so hungry that you make poor choices such as sugary, high calorie, high-fat, nutrient-poor treats (see next tip).
- Put a snack in your bag! Plan your post-workout meals so that you don't past that optimal workout window of 2 hours to maximize the food's affects and to control hunger.
- Drink water. This will help optimize your metabolism and stave off cravings between meals. Add a little lemon for a cleansing boost.
Finally, here's a recent study on eating after exercise: What you eat after exercise matters
To your fitness success!