The hard part is over: you’ve sweated, stretched and pushed yourself. Now it’s time to rest and refuel – but how do you decide what to eat after a workout?
Knowing when and what to eat can make a difference in your workouts. Understand the connection between eating and exercise.
According to the studies, the best foods to eat after a workout contain protein and a little carbohydrate — and you want to get those nutrients in immediately. Post-workout nutrients are essential for replenishing the muscle glycogen depleted from physical demands. Also, consuming an exercise recovery meal helps stimulate protein synthesis to repair and build new muscle tissue and restore fluid and electrolyte balance.
Eating Well and Staying Hydrated
Essential nutrients are required after a hard workout with carbohydrates and protein being the main focus. Drinking plenty of water and sometimes a sports recovery drink during longer sessions of exercise is also necessary for fluid replenishment.
When Should You Eat After a Workout?
The first 30 to 45 minutes after a workout is the optimal window for using nutrition to help your body recover from physical exertion.
Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It’s especially important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.
Doing this helps your body:
- decrease muscle protein breakdown
- increase muscle protein synthesis (growth)
- restore glycogen stores
- enhance recovery
For what to eat after a workout, try these quick post-workout meal ideas to speed up recovery, maximize exercise benefits, and it is also part of the fun of maintaining a healthy body and lifestyle.
1. Protein Pancakes
Mix four egg whites, ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup cottage cheese, ⅛ teaspoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Cook on a preheated griddle on medium-to-low heat, until it bubbles, then flip and cool another 30-60 seconds. Top with fresh berries or banana slices.
These pancakes pack a mean protein punch without a ton of carbs, perfect for those looking to retain muscle tissue when trying to lean up. The medium- and slow-digesting proteins help keep a steady stream of amino acids to stay more anabolic.
421 | Protein: 51g | Fat: 6g | Carbs: 39g
2. Tuna and Crackers
Take a can of yellow fin tuna and add a handful (1/2 cup) of crushed-up whole grain crackers. For flavor, add pepper, a dab of extra-virgin olive oil, mustard, and chopped-up pickles.
This one is perfect to utilise on-the-go for those working out on their lunch break at work, or those who have to endure an epic commute home from the gym. It is also simple and cost effective. The crackers add some needed carbs, helping to spike your insulin levels to drive nutrients into your muscles.
379 | Protein: 41g | Fat: 13g | Carbs: 24g
3. High-Protein Oats On-the-Go
Add ½ cup of rolled oats, 1-2 scoops of your favorite whey protein powder (we suggest vanilla), ½ cup of frozen or dried fruit, and slivered almonds. Add ½ cup of water or skim milk, and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Add cinnamon or stevia to add more flavour.
Another great convenience food, this dish is best for morning trainers. Oats and whey have been a bodybuilding staple forever, but oftentimes are bland and burnt out. By adding some fruit, natural sweetener, and almonds, you gain a whole new appreciation for oatmeal. The balance of carbs and protein make it great for those looking to build mass and those watching the leanness scale.
422 | Protein: 31g | Fat: 12.5g | Carbs: 48g
4. Egg Scramble
Scramble four whole eggs with two added egg whites. Add one cup of chopped mixed veggies. Spinach, onions, mushrooms, and red bell peppers are good additions. For more protein, add ¼ cup of diced lean ham or bacon. If you need (or want) more carbs, add a piece of fresh fruit on the side.
Breakfast for dinner? Uhhh…yes. Plain egg whites just get too boring, forcing you to ditch your high-protein meal for a Krispy Kreme when you are burned out on traditional bodybuilding foods. Keep the yolks for the extra omega-3 fats, vitamins, and minerals. Make them taste good with some bacon (turkey bacon is a great, lower-fat option) and increase nutrient density and texture with the veggies. Nothing says post-workout breakfast like eggs. This post-workout is perfect for those on low calories and carbs, but need the protein to retain muscle and fat to decrease hunger.
520 | Protein: 37g | Fat: 23g | Carbs: 29g
5. Chicken and Sweet Potato Hash
Grab a large chicken breast (about 8oz) that is already cooked and dice it up and throw it in a pan with olive oil. Add ½ cup of diced sweet potato, 1/2 cup of diced apples and add cinnamon, salt, and pepper to taste. You can make an even bigger batch to store in the fridge to use throughout the week.
Chicken and sweet potatoes, gourmet recovery style. Sweet potatoes are the perfect bodybuilder carb that slowly digests to keep your energy levels high and insulin spike just enough to feed the muscles but not the fat stores.
300 | Protein: 51g | Fat: 5g | Carbs: 30g
Summary : Getting in the right nutrients after exercise can help you rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores. It also helps stimulate new muscle growth.