To Make Optimal Gains, Never Neglect Post Workout Nutrition
Knowing what to eat after a workout is a big question mark for many active adults, even those who have been exercising for years. Over time you’ll no doubt figure out your own system of food consumption that helps you to stave off fatigue and other symptoms following a workout, but did you know that there are proven methods you might be missing out on?
If you think that there may be a better way to get nutrition and optimize your workouts by pairing them with an appropriate diet, here are 5 post-workout tips that could prove useful.
5 Tips for Post-Workout Nutrition
1. Watch What You Eat
Some people think that working out gives them free license to eat what they want without having to worry about what’s going into their gullet. Unfortunately, this is untrue. Intense daily workouts won’t stop you from packing on belly fat if all you eat is cake and crullers all day. So even though you’re exercising you still need to be aware of what you’re ingesting and the effect it will have on your body.
You can consume more calories if you want to, and those who are bulking will almost certainly want to, but you still need to watch what you eat and plan for a diet that will work in tandem with your exercise to produce the desired results.
2. Fruitful pairing
When you’ve just finished a workout and your stomach is growling and your head is throbbing, you know it’s time to get some food in you. But what should you eat?
The best post-workout snacks will pair quick- and slow-burning fuels to give you a shot of energy now and keep you steady until your next meal. So pairing protein and fruit is a great way to go. Consider an apple, banana, or blueberries paired with some cheese or grilled chicken. These combos will be easy on your stomach and provide you with both instant and sustained energy (amongst other benefits).
3. Skip Processed Foods
It can certainly be tempting to reach for a power bar and be on your way after a workout, but even if these snack foods provide you with the dose of protein and carbs you’re looking for, most also pack a lot of sugar and preservatives that you probably don’t want. Ditto for pretty much any kind of pre-packaged snack you might grab and go.
Even moderate exercise is estimated to drain you of about a quart of fluid per hour, and you need to replenish if you don’t want to suffer the symptoms of dehydration. However, it may not be enough to drink straight water. Since you’re also losing minerals and electrolytes that help your body to absorb and retain fluids, you’ll need to replace them, as well. Luckily, there are plenty of smart waters and sports drinks on the market that can stand in for plain water. Just watch out for added sugar.
5. Keep it Light
Although a particularly intense workout may leave you feeling famished, you only want to consume carbs and proteins immediately after a workout. While a high fat snack or meal might sound appetizing and filling, it is not ideal for muscle recovery. In addition, downing something light like protein soups or shakes will slake your hunger so that you can approach your next meal without the urgency of hunger, meaning you’re likely to make healthier choices, thus maximizing the impact of your exercise regimen.
Consider waiting as many as 2-3 hours before gulping down a meal with even moderate fat content.
Further, if your workout session is comprised solely of cardio, there’s not much need for a heavy post-workout meal or shake. You want to keep your body burning those calories from your high-intensity exercise. A small protein shake with some carbs should be OK, but don’t go crazy.
Some of the best post-workout nutrition is already specially formulated for you, but I’ve also read several articles stating the chocolate milk works just as good as any post-workout shake or protein powder. I’ve also tried the chocolate milk strategy with one scoop of protein powder, and it’s probably one of my easiest and favorite post-workout ‘meals’.