What to Eat After A Workout - Fitness HN


What to Eat After a Workout?

Hey there guys, I’m back again.

In my previous article, I wrote about the “5 best foods to eat before a workout” which you might have found useful. But some of my clients still wanted to know more which I appreciate, and that’s what the purpose of this blog is – To educate and empower you all with the best knowledge.

What to have after the workout and why? Before jumping to what you should eat post-workout, let me tell what ideally you should immediately have after the exercise.

 

Simple Carbs + Whey Protein

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy and training consumes a lot of energy. After a workout session, your body and the brain are demanding fuel (energy). Those energy levels need to be restored as quickly as possible.

Even your muscles have been used while training which requires protein for repair, wear & tear, growth, and maintenance.

So simple carbs like fruits followed by a whey protein shake would be an ideal post-workout snack. They’re quickly digested and provides the desired fuel to your body.

Having a protein shake isn’t mandatory. But if you’re the one who consumes it, having it as early as possible after the workout along with carbs would be the best time to have it.

Many don’t prefer to have a solid meal immediately after the exercise for digestion and convenience reasons. Whey protein goes pretty well and quickly digested by the body.

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What to Eat After a Workout?

Carbohydrates

As I stated above, Carbs = Energy which is the fuel for the body. No matter whichever activity you do the body requires energy to do that. Interestingly, your body still breaks down carbohydrates to make glucose even at rest. The brain needs glucose to function optimally.

While working out, the body uses much more glucose (usable energy) and glycogen (stored energy), and the amount of usage depends upon the intensity of the exercise.

Higher the intensity, the higher the need and usage of carbohydrates.

Now you know that why you feel exhausted and drained out after an intense workout session. Even your blood sugar levels get low. This time your brain and body are deprived of fuel and need it as quickly as possible to recover.

Simple carbs post-workout would be the most desired and ideal fuel for the body. They’re quickly broken down into glucose. This is what we want after a killer workout i.e. quick supply of energy.

 

Benefits of Carbohydrates:

  1. ✓ The energy source of the body. Supplies energy to the brain and body.
  2. ✓ Speeds up the recovery process.
  3. ✓ Protein sparing. Spares protein and prevents its breakdown for energy.
  4. ✓ Prevents muscle loss and makes your muscles look fuller & tighter.
  5. ✓ Releases feel-good hormones that improve mood, and prevents brain fog & exhaustion.
  6. ✓ Budget-friendly and cheap unlike protein & good fats.
 

Protein

The muscles are broken down at the gym and repaired via well-structured nutrition and rest.

Like Carbs are fuel for the body, Proteins are the building blocks of muscles. Protein is responsible for the growth & maintenance of the muscles.

Mainly your overall protein intake matters. But when protein was consumed around workouts, studies have shown positive results in terms of muscle protein synthesis, performance, and recovery (1)

Muscles are used and broken down after a workout. Those weights and workouts have caused micro-tears and damage to them. Those muscles need to be repaired with adequate protein supply in terms of recovery & maintenance. As a result in a response, Better muscle growth.

Video Credits: TED-Ed

So a quick delivering protein after a workout pretty much makes sense. Have simple carbs followed by a whey protein shake. That would be an ideal recommendation post-workout.

 

Benefits of Protein

  1. ✓ Responsible for growth and maintenance of the muscles.
  2. ✓ Promotes bone & muscle growth.
  3. ✓ Natural appetite suppressant and keeps you full & satiated.
  4. ✓ Macro-nutrient with the highest TEF i.e. Thermic Effect of the Food that enhances fat loss and helps to maintain weight.
  5. ✓ Keeps blood sugar levels optimized.
  6. ✓ Improves immunity.
  7. ✓ Amazing for hair, eye, and skin health.
 

Fats

The only time you should avoid eating fats should be post-workout when you have simple carbs and your protein shake.

Fats actually slow down the digestion, conversion of carbs into glucose/glycogen, and delivery of amino acids to the muscles. Fats don’t make you FAT and are very necessary for survival.

But avoiding it in your post-workout shake and consuming them after 45mins – an hour in your post-workout solid meal would be the smart choice to make.

This way you aren’t inhibiting the quick surge of carbs and protein after the workout. You’re giving them enough time to digest/absorb as early as possible. Also, you’re getting the best of both worlds by adding fats to your post-workout solid meal.

 

Hydration & Electrolytes

Please note that hydration is also very crucial especially around your workouts. Stay well hydrated to avoid dehydration after the workout. Your body also loses many electrolytes and water in the form of sweat. So replenishment of water and electrolytes is also very significant post-workout. This is where the role of the solid meal comes in which also provides your body with salts.

I would be making a dedicated article on the Importance of Electrolytes’ after the workout in my next article.

Also, let me know in the comments if you want me to make an article on specific Top 5 foods that you can eat after a workout.

 

What to Eat After a Workout to Lose Weight & Build Muscle?

Whether to lose weight or build muscles, not just what you eat but how much you eat matters. It’s about energy balance. That’s the bigger picture which you should focus upon. To lose weight, you need to eat lesser calories than you burn, or burn more calories than you eat.

No matter what you eat, you won’t lose fat until and unless you create a calorie deficit. Also, no particular food item in isolation will make you lose weight. It’s about the whole diet which you eat in 24hrs and follow over time.

To gain weight or build muscles, you need to eat in a calorie surplus i.e. eat more than you burn or vice versa.

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Your protein intake should be adequate irrespective of your goal to prevent muscle loss and build muscles.

Bottom line: Follow a well-structured calorie deficit diet to lose fat and preserve those hard-earned muscles, and a calorie surplus diet to gain weight or build muscles. Mainly keep the protein constant. You can play around with carbs and fat ratio depending upon your goal.

 

Conclusion

In a nutshell, Your energy stores and muscles are used during workouts. This makes them appear deflated. You need a combination of quick energy and protein. Simple carbs along with a quick delivering protein like a whey protein are preferable as early as possible after the workout.

This will not only stimulate muscle protein synthesis, but will also ensure quick recovery, and will also replenish energy storage for your next workout session.

Whether you drink a whey protein shake or eat a solid meal mainly having carbs & protein after a workout, either one is alright. It all comes down to personal preference and convenience.

To lose fat, your overall calorie intake should be in a deficit and you need to eat in a calorie surplus for gaining weight or building muscles. Losing weight or gaining mainly depends upon the energy balance and your overall diet.

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Written by

Hardeep Narula

Hardeep Narula is An Internationally Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach, Founder, Blogger, and A Content Writer
www.fitnesshn.com