One important part of a successful exercise regimen is post-workout nutrition. What you eat after a grueling and sweaty exercise session is responsible for restoring the body’s energy and nutrients. During exercise, the body breaks down muscle protein structures and glycogen. You also lose a lot of water through sweat. Therefore, the key to any great post workout meal-plan revolves around replenishing glycogen levels, re-hydrating the body and providing essential nutrients that aid tissue repair. You should avoid snacks and foods that are high in fat content and empty calories since they only negate all the hard work of your exercise efforts. Instead, opt for a nutritious post-workout meal plan that helps the body to recover. To help you get started, here are some suggestions for top 5 post-workout recovery foods and beverages.
1. Fruit Smoothie with Protein Base
A fruit smoothie will not only hydrate the body after a workout, it also allows you to pack plenty of nutrients in a single beverage. Another advantage about liquid meals is that they are quick to digest and absorb. A smoothie recipe that combines carbohydrates and protein provides the primary food sources required after a workout. Try blending frozen fruit with Greek yogurt, whey protein shake, or soy milk. You can also add a natural sweetener for a better flavour.
2. Dried Fruits and Nuts
If you don’t have the time to whoop up a full meal after your workouts, dried fruits and nuts are a convenient snacking option with plenty of beneficial nutrients. Dried fruits will provide a healthy dose of simple carbohydrates plus you will get a quick injection of protein from the nuts.
3. Grilled Chicken Mixed with Veggies
When your body is in recovery mode, you will need a good supply of proteins and carbohydrates. A dish containing grilled chicken and vegetables makes a healthy full meal to help your body recover. Grilled chicken will nourish the body with low-fat lean protein to repair muscle tissue while the vegetables shall ensure you get complex carbohydrates to replenish your muscle glycogen.
4. Tofu Veggie Scramble
If you are a vegan, it is still possible to get a health protein and carbohydrate meal for post workout recovery. Tofu scrambled with spinach, green onions, sweet corn, roasted potatoes and red peppers makes a colourful and nutrient rich dish that you can whoop up for your main meal after hitting the gym, track or treadmill. You can add a dash of garlic for some flavour to your tofu veggie scramble.
5. Chocolate Milk
This fantastic recovery drink contains everything you need after a workout. It has carbs and proteins for muscle recovery, water to replace fluids lost through sweat along with electrolytes like sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Chocolate milk is very easy to prepare since there are whey protein powders that come fortified with this flavour. All you need to do is take a scoop of your favourite whey chocolate powder, add to milk and mix thoroughly with a shaker bottle. You can even take this convenient drink with you to the gym and re-hydrate immediately after a workout.
When Should You Eat After a Workout?
Foods and drinks have different time frames for consumption after a workout. For example, fluids can be taken during and even immediately after a workout in order to keep hydration levels up throughout the exercise session. Nutrition experts recommend snacking 30 minutes after a workout. Snacks can have 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. A full meal is best taken within two hours of your workout to ensure a fast recovery.