What and When to Eat After a Workout

It’s just as important to eat the right food after a workout as it is before. Some people joke that they only workout so they can hit the doughnut store. Others think the only way for exercise to work is to be left with a large calorie deficit afterward. But, your body actually wants specific foods after you burn off calories!

When you workout, your body burns glycogen stored in your muscles. When you’re finished with exercise, your muscles are low in glycogen and the proteins in your muscles are damaged. Your body has to repair the proteins and regain its glycogen. Eating the right things can speed your recovery by rebuilding your glycogen stores and improving protein growth. Your body needs a mix of protein, fat and carbs to heal fast. Eating within forty-five minutes can help your body bounce back.

Protein can help your body build muscle. Without protein, you can lose muscle weight from exercising. Carbohydrates replace the glycogen you have lost. Low levels of healthy fats can aid recovery, such as fats from a glass of dairy milk, rich in protein. Plant-based milks are not as helpful to muscles and dairy, despite both having protein. Some people claim that fat does too much to slow how your body absorbs nutrients post-workout. However, research doesn’t back up that theory. Eggs, tofu and fish, like tuna, are also excellent protein options. Complex carbs like sweet potatoes, whole-grain bread and quinoa all help build up glycogen.

Drinking water is great before, during and after your workout is great. Staying hydrated keeps your body working at peak performance. But, if you work out for more than an hour, you lose electrolytes. Electrolytes have the job of keeping the water in your body balanced. Some people suggest using sports drinks to fix the imbalance. However, sports drinks can be very high in sugar and calories. You might be more interested in coconut water or a water that contains electrolytes. Some scientists lobby for people to drink herbal teas after exercising because some research has shown that tea may help the body process carbs and protein faster. Others suggest chocolate milk for its mix of carbs and protein.

Experts warn not to overeat after a workout and to be realistic about what you have accomplished. “You may spend just 30 or 40 minutes out of an hour working out,” Kelinson, a nutritional consultant for athletes, celebrities and executives, explained in an interview. “You move from one thing to the next, you talk a little bit, you get some water, you take your breaks. Just because you move your body a little bit, it is not a license to overconsume.

Hopefully, this guide helps you pick the best food for your post-exercise meal. If you exercise in the morning, skip the doughnut and go for the eggs and whole-grain toast.
September 13, 2019

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