You put your sweat and blood into your workouts and think that you are making progress, but are you? To maintain a healthy weight, it is absolutely important to hit the gym, but going to the gym alone won’t keep you in shape. What you eat post your workout sessions also contributes to your health. Find out what you should eat after a workout session.
Which Important Macronutrients Must Be Included in a Post-Workout Diet?
There are a couple of macronutrients you should be aware of if you want to make the most of your diet. They are – carbs, proteins, and fats. It’s easy to overlook their importance but when you get them in the right amounts, you will achieve your weight loss and fitness goals soon.
Carbs help in building muscle and burning fats. While consuming foods rich in carbohydrates is important, you should not overdo it. Make sure you get your carbs to protein ratio right. Ideally, it should be 3:1. For instance, if you consume 40 grams of protein, you should aim for 120 grams of carbs in a day. When your glycogen stores get depleted through intense training, your muscles begin to break down. But carbs will help build up your glycogen stores. However, you shouldn’t go for any carbs. Opt for complex carbs as they will keep you full for long. You can consume brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, and black rice.
Proteins help build and repair muscles. Exercising triggers the breakdown of muscle protein in the body. To make up for this loss, consuming protein-rich foods is necessary. Also, when you make your post-workout meals protein-rich, it helps in building muscle tissue.
Fats slow down the digestion and may inhibit nutrient absorption when you include it in your post-workout meals, but it won’t negate its benefits. In fact, a little bit of fat even promotes optimal glycogen synthesis.
When to Eat After a Workout Session
You should have your post-workout meal within an hour of your workout session.
What to Eat After a Workout Session
What you choose to eat post-workout is just as important as when you eat it. Here are some foods you should be reaching out for once you’ve got that sweat running.
1. Whole Eggs
Whole eggs contain more protein than egg whites. By eating whole eggs, you can meet your protein requirements and build muscles. Whole eggs can supply your body with nutrients like phosphorus, iron, healthy fats, and more, letting your muscles synthesize and use the protein efficiently.
2. Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice is good for recovery after intense endurance and resistance workout. Tart cherry juice is a good source of antioxidants and is loaded with nutrients. And the icing on top – it can help you get a restful sleep too.
3. Ricotta Cheese
A little bit of ricotta cheese is enough to kickstart the anabolic response in your body after a single bout of resistance training. Ricotta cheese is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, and can provide your body with proteins too!
4. Smoked Salmon
The omega-3s in smoked salmon and other varieties of fish seep into your muscles and trigger protein synthesis. Also, these fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation response in the body, thus relieving muscle soreness and promoting faster recovery times. It’s one of the best after-gym meals when combined with salads.
5. Sweet Potatoes
If you’ve taken a hit and you’re low on energy levels after your workout, it’s time to load up on the carbs in your diet after the gym. Sweet potatoes are a great option since the body uses it up as a fuel source instead of storing it as fats.
6. Herbal Teas
Herbal teas like yerba mate tea and green tea are jam-packed with antioxidants and vital nutrients that can boost your immunity and metabolism. As a result, you will burn more calories after your workouts and even get your energy levels back. You can have herbal teas along with some healthy food after exercise.
7. Whole-Grain Bread
Whole-grain bread like brown bread can help you meet your recommended carb intake without breaking a sweat. Your muscles will recover faster too and they’re not bad like simple carbs.
Quinoa is a superfood in its own league and a gluten-free grain for those who follow a plant-based diet. It contains all the important amino acids required by your body, making it a complete source of protein, even comparable to that of meat-based diets. If you want to eat after a workout to lose weight at night as a vegan, eat this.
9. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a good source of protein. It is a much-needed nutrient for maintaining muscle mass post-workout. You can eat it after a morning workout with smoothies.
10. Whey Protein Powder
If you don’t have enough time to prepare a healthy dish, you can opt for whey protein powder. Since you mix it with water and drink up, it gets digested a lot quicker compared to solid foods. You can also buy whey protein powder supplements that come in different flavours and enjoy.
Foods You Must Not Eat After Exercising
While there is a list of foods you should eat after your workout, you should also know what not to eat after your workout. You want to stay healthy, right? So watch out for these!
1. Ready-Made Smoothies
Remember those convenient smoothie mix sachets which you simply stir in water and drink up? Avoid these ready-made smoothies as they contain tons of added sugar, which may affect your fat burning process post-workout.
2. Spicy Foods
Spices or spicy foods, in general, take a lot of work to digest. And since your body recovers after a workout, you should give it foods, it can quickly digest so that it doesn’t overwork itself. Say no to cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, and everything spicy.
3. Aerated Drinks
We know aerated drinks are tempting, but they are not healthy! When you drink soda after a workout, you may feel bloated. So, aerated drinks are best avoided. You can drink and reach out for mineral water instead or fresh veggie juices.
4. Junk Food
Junk food is high in calories. You can pack on a couple of pounds just by eating a few pizzas and burgers. Add to that the transfats, bad cholesterol, salt, and added sugar, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Chocolates are loaded with sugar. If you’re absolutely craving something sweet, go for a banana or better yet, mix one teaspoon of raw cacao powder with two tablespoons of coconut oil, a bit of smidge and cinnamon and eat that.
6. Energy Bars
Most of the energy bars you find in stores are loaded with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. They can spike up your blood sugar levels. Yes, they have protein, but they also have that other harmful stuff. So energy bars are best avoided.
7. Energy Drinks
Although energy drinks are marketed in a way that suggests that they will improve mental alertness or help in physical stimulation, they don’t. Energy drinks contain refined sugar in them, which can spike your blood sugar levels and won’t do any good to your body. You should reach out for coconut water if you need energy.
8. Raw Veggies
Now, don’t get us wrong. We are not saying that raw veggies are bad, but the problem is that they are high in fibre and water content. They can fill you up all too quickly and are low in calories and protein/carbs. So they don’t meet the criteria when it comes to stocking up on nutrients after your workout. Save them for snacks or dinner instead.
Post-workout Meal Ideas With Recipes
Now that you know what to eat and what not to eat after your intense workout routine, here’s a list of recipes that’ll help you out.
1. Rye Cracker and Eggs
It’s one of the classics and we are sure you will love it.
- A few hard-boiled eggs
- 1/4 cup of plain Greek yoghurt
- 1/2 teaspoon of yellow curry powder
- A pinch of salt
- Rye crackers
How to Make
- Mash the eggs and mix well with the Greek Yogurt.
- Spread this over the rye crackers, garnish with salt and curry powder, and enjoy!
2. Salmon Wrap
Craving wraps? Try this delicious protein-packed recipe.
- 2 tablespoons of cream cheese
- One whole-grain wrap (small)
- 1/3 cup of smoked salmon
- 1/4 cup of pickled beets (sliced)
- A few pinches of arugula
How to Make
- Layer the cheese on the wrap.
- Fill it up with the rest of the ingredients, roll up, and enjoy.
3. Sweet Potato Meal
If you like sweet potatoes, then this meal is for you. Try this recipe and enjoy!
- 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder
- 1/3 cup of applesauce
- 1 medium sweet potato (peeled and cubed)
- A handful of dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds
How to Make
- Cook the sweet potatoes with water in a microwave.
- Mash the potatoes and drizzle apple sauce and ginger powder over it.
- Top up with the cranberries and pumpkin seeds and enjoy.
Here are a few frequently asked questions about post-workout meals.
1. Do I Need to Eat After a Workout If I Ate Before?
Yes, you must eat within 45 minutes to 2 hours after your workout.
2. What Will Happen If I Don’t Eat After a Workout?
Your glycogen stores will get depleted and your muscle proteins might breakdown. This might lead to an injury in your next workout, and you might end up losing lean muscle mass too.
3. Is it Essential to Have a Recovery Drink After Working Out?
If it’s completely natural like a smoothie, then yes. It will replenish your electrolytes and hydrate you. You will also get carbs and protein.
Now you know what all you should eat after working out. Don’t stress too much and have fun. Also, don’t forget to eat and meet your protein to carb requirements.