Choosing the right food is extremely important to achieve your fitness goal.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Sonai Swami/Instagram
While we all know that an intense workout can help you lose the right amount of weight, very few people know the importance of eating the right kind of food after a session of intense workout.
It is necessary to keep in mind that your workout doesn't end when you leave the gym or finish that last round of crunches.
Choosing the right food is extremely important for one to achieve their fitness goal.
Physical activity uses a lot of energy and it is difficult for the body to recover if energy levels are not replenished in 15 to 30 minutes after finishing a workout session.
Choosing the right food after workout comes with a lot of benefits like they can help people recover more quickly, build muscle, and get ready for their next workout session, reported Healthline.
During the process of working out, muscles use up their glycogen energy stores. Some of the muscle proteins also get damaged, especially during strength-based routines.
Vanessa Voltolina, a dietitian in the New York City, emphasised on the impact of the right kind of diet and said "eating the right combination of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals help speed the process of rebuilding the used glycogen stores, as well as repairing muscle proteins."
People should also include some healthy fats in their diet.
What one eats after a workout depends on the duration and intensity of their exercise. The type of exercise is also important.
"Higher carbohydrate meals are most beneficial after endurance activities -- such as running or cycling -- lasting more than an hour. Following strength training, it's important to consume protein in combination with moderate carbohydrate," Voltolina told Healthline.
"The ideal timing for consuming a post-workout snack is within 45 minutes but benefits can be seen up to 2 hours after training," Voltolina added.
Here's a quick guide to help you make the right choice of post-workout nutrition:
Keeping it in perspective
Karina Inkster, a vegan fitness and nutrition coach stated that unless you're an athlete or work out a lot, post-workout nutrition is not as important as other factors.
So, when deciding what to eat after a workout, one has to keep in mind how the whole day fits their exercise goals.
"You want your 24-hour period to look great. If that means amping up your protein content, then by default, your post-workout nutrition meal or snack is probably going to be a little higher in protein," said Inkster.
However, vegans and vegetarians need to eat protein from varied sources throughout the day to make sure they're getting enough of the essential amino acids.
Adam Kelinson, a chef and nutritional consultant, said people should also be honest about how much of their workout is actually moderate or high intensity.
"Ultimately, you may spend just 30 or 40 minutes out of an hour working out. You move from one thing to the next, you talk a little bit, you get some water, you take your breaks. We're not talking high-exertion efforts here," Kelinson explained to Healthline.
So be careful about consuming the packaged post-workout snacks, many of which have added sugars.
People can also get away with following their workout with one of their regular meals or snacks, rather than adding another meal to their day.
Hydration is the key
Keeping yourself hydrated is equally important. Drinking enough water before, during, and after a workout can help with recovery and the next day's exercise routine.
Professional athletes sometimes measure their body weight before and after a workout to know how much water they need to replace.
The colour of urine also helps with keeping an eye on the right amount of water consumption -- pale yellow is considered to be the right colour.
Depending on the intensity of the workout and the temperature of the environment, an electrolyte drink can also replenish sodium and potassium lost in your sweat.
Foods to consume post-workout
Choosing foods to eat after a workout can be tricky but foods that are easily digestible can speed up the nutrient absorption.
People should consume more of whole foods that are packed with other micronutrients.
Here are a few options:
- Chia seed pudding
- Fruit (Berries, Apple, Bananas, Etc.)
- Rice cakes
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain cereal
- Chocolate milk
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Turkey or Chicken
- Salmon or tuna
- Peanut butter
- Protein shake (Plant- Or Animal-Based)
- Tofu scramble
- Healthy fats
- Coconut oil
- Flax seeds
- Nut butters
Consuming the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins and some fats after exercising help in muscle protein production and promote recovery with the best results.
So now arrange a healthy snack to eat as soon as your workout ends!
Also, remember to replace fluids and electrolyte drinks by drinking loads and loads of water before, during, and after exercise.