So you did your pre-workout prep, you've just finished up a workout, and you feel great, but your work is not done yet. If you want to maximize your results, you need to rehydrate and to know how to feed yourself after the workout is over. Post-workout Nutrition allows your body to respond to your exercise routine and change how you want it to develop.
Nutrition is all about counting your macros and identifying what balance works for you. The foods you would eat after a workout are very different from what you might eat before a workout. Capitalize on the right combination of fats, proteins, and carbs to ensure you see the best possible results from your workout routine.
How To Count Your Macros
Counting calories is an essential practice that anyone who works out needs to employ. Counting macros takes that one step further. Calories alone will not allow you to make the changes you want in your body. You need to eat meals with the right nutrients, and to do that, you need to be able to properly identify the macros you are eating.
The first step here is to be able to read the nutritional facts that come with your food. It is important to note that the nutritional labels do not always match up with reality and can often skew in a way that causes you to eat too much of a certain thing. The best practice is to weigh your own food and figure out for yourself exactly what you are consuming.
While this may seem like overkill, the last thing you want is to approach nutrition the wrong way. You want to know exactly what you are eating so that you know exactly what works for you.
How Soon After a Workout Should I Eat?
Eating relatively soon after you finish your workout is essential when planning out your meals. Time in the gym takes its toll on the body, and your muscles will be drained of glycogen, which they will need to have replenished.
The proteins in your body need to be repaired, and your body’s stores of carbohydrates have to be restored. To accomplish this, every macronutrient plays a role and cannot be neglected. Protein will help you maximize muscle tissue repair and growth, carbs will refuel your body and improve recovery, and fat will support both recovery and growth.
Finding Your Anabolic Window
The period within which your body can best regenerate glycogen stores and create new building blocks for muscle proteins immediately after your workout. If you eat within 45 minutes of your workout, you should be in the best time period to maximum muscle growth and other health benefits for your body. This time frame is known as the anabolic window.
Waiting too long can lead to minimal returns from protein and glycogen. While it is crucial that you continue to eat the right foods later in the day, you want to make sure you are taking advantage of that period where your body can make the most drastic changes.
When you work out, you want every moment to be meaningful. Failing to eat within the proper anabolic window can lead to wasting some of your workout efforts, which is the opposite of what you want to accomplish in the gym.
What Should I Eat After My Workout?
As far as macronutrients go, you should focus on protein and carbs after your workout. The benefits (or lack thereof) of eating healthy fats after a workout are debatable by nutritionists and dietitians. Still, protein and carbs are what you need to make sure you are giving your body after a workout to refuel and build muscle.
Protein is not necessarily the best option to consume before a workout as it does not act as a major fuel source for the body. After, however, you want to eat plenty of protein quickly to get the most out of your workout. Protein heavy foods with significant grams of carbs will serve you well after a few hours in the gym.
With this in mind, what should you be eating? Here are some great options for post-workout meals:
After you workout, a protein shake is one of the best ways to intake a large amount of protein. Your protein powder can have a lot of healthy supplements in it like vitamins and minerals, but you can also add some additional high-quality ingredients to push your shake over the edge.
When making a protein shake for after a workout, we recommend skipping the peanut butter. PB and other butters are full of fat and generally not regarded as great post workout because your body can store the fat rather than utilize it.
A bowl with a healthy mix of meat, vegetables, and grains such as brown rice or quinoa will net you all of the necessary macronutrients for your post-workout period. Avoid anything with overly sugary sauces or too much white rice.
Pasta is a great way to replenish your carbohydrate stores. Add in a protein, like chicken, sausages, or meatballs to help rebuild those muscles.
A sandwich is a great way to get everything you need post-workout in one bite. Including plenty of vegetables and meat on a healthy, whole grain or whole wheat breads should check all your boxes for a balanced meal post-workout. Opt for lean proteins like sliced turkey, hard-boiled eggs, chicken breasts, or even your preferred alternative like tofu.
Greek yogurt can offer significant grams of protein for your post-workout snack, while also staying low-fat. You can also add in healthy granola for a boost of carbohydrates.
When you are done working out, there are still actions you can take to maximize your results. Your body uses a lot of nutrients during your workout, along with hydration through water or sports drinks to restore electrolytes, you need to make sure you are refueling yourself with carbohydrates and proteins.
Eating within a 45-minute to two-hour window will ensure that you are maximizing your workout's growth and recovery potential. Foods like meats, eggs, grains, vegetables, and fruits are good options for putting yourself in the best position to capitalize on your workout.
When you use the best tools you have at your disposal, you are setting yourself up for success with every workout. This includes eating properly after workouts and using the proper equipment for a smooth, optimized workout experience. Tools like Haven Athletic gym duffles can help you prepare for success before, during, and after your gym workout. With large and small duffles to suit your needs, Haven Athletic offers solutions to your normally chaotic gym experience.
With easy-to-use, organized compartments (even one for your workout shoes), you’ll be able to find what you need in your bag in seconds. No more rummaging through your bag only to find that you left something or that things are tangles or post-workout shake spilled.