Eating a proper meal after a workout is important no matter how long it is. The key to optimizing each and every workout is to eat a proper meal to help the body recover from exercise.
My goal is to know what I am eating before my workout so that I am not tempted to pull into a drive-thru. It’s even better if I have a meal prepped ahead of time so all I have to do is pop it in the microwave as soon as I walk through the door.
How do I do it?
It does require a little preparation. For some, it is easier to do some meal prep or cook a little more food and save the leftovers for your post-workout meal. However, you also can do things like buy a rotisserie chicken to serve with vegetables and a carbohydrate like rice, potatoes or pasta.
The goal should be to make sure you are working to achieve new heights in and out the gym.
Tips to help with what to eat after a workout
The 60-minute rule
After a workout, try to eat a meal no later than 60 minutes after finishing. Exercises put stress on your muscles, joints and bones. The body uses up nutrients that need to be replenished as soon as possible. Without properly refueling after exercise, the results you’ve worked so hard for will be delayed.
Eat more than protein
It’s true that protein is a building block for muscles, but an ideal recovery meal should have good fats (needed for muscle and joint recovery) as well as protein.
Adding a carbohydrate such as rice or sweet potatoes to replenish depleted nutrients and boost post-exercise metabolism also is a plus.
You are what you eat
The human body is phenomenal. It basically repairs, heals and rebuilds itself. However, how it all happens is determined by what you feed it.
Although you are burning through hundreds of calories in your workouts, it doesn’t mean that you fuel it with cheeseburgers, cupcakes and everything your mind tells you should do because it fits in your calories. You should go for a cleaner, nutrient-rich foods that help boost recovery.
I always say, treat your body like a high-performance car or machine. Would you put unleaded gas in a diesel car?
Watch your portion sizes
It’s important not to overestimate how much “extra” food you “earned” from working out, especially if weight loss is one of your goals.
For example, if you burn 500 calories, please do not believe that you can eat an extra treat or pay less attention to your portion sizes. This can easily snowball and before you know it, you have eaten more than you burned during your workout.
I am a fan of using your food scale and measuring cups to fix your plate. And then add it to MyFitnessPal so you can keep track of your meals and workout.
Drink your water
Water is the key to so many things including weight loss. Your target should be to drink half your body weight in ounces.
If plain water is not your thing, infuse water with some fruit and/or vegetables.
If your workouts last longer than 60 minutes, you might need a sports drink as opposed to plain water. My favorite is Powerade Zero, which has less sugar than a regular Powerade or Gatorade. They are designed to hydrate while also providing the body with electrolytes (such as potassium for regulating heart rhythm) lost from sweating.
Limit your alcohol intake
Alcohol in moderation is fine, but before hitting the bars, make sure to eat first. Also, be mindful that alcohol intake has been shown to accelerate post-exercise muscle loss by up to 40 percent. It also potentially interferes with glycogen replenishment. Glycogen is the body’s “piggy banks” for storing energy. Low glycogen levels lead to a drop in energy or endurance for your next workout. Yikes!
With the following tips on how to properly eat after your workout, you can make use of each so you don’t have to live with the guilt of rumbling tummies.
What do you eat after your workout?