Finishing a killer workout gives you an amazing feeling, doesn’t it? Tough workouts make us all feel like we accomplished something for the day. They give us a sense of progress, self-worth and physical health.
But all too often people will cheat themselves out of a solid workout by eating something unfavorable post-exercise. Although your metabolism is elevated after a workout, you shouldn’t eat junk immediately after you’ve physically challenged yourself. Let’s face it—no matter how much you worked out, if you eat the wrong thing afterwards, you’re going to negate your hard work!
If you want to achieve the most from your workout, your best bet is keep your body fueled with proper nutrition afterward. A good post-workout meal should be consumed 30-60 minutes after training. It should be designed to reduce soreness, reduce protein breakdown, replenish depleted glycogen levels and increase overall muscle protein synthesis. To help you make the best post-workout meals for your body, we put together a list of the top 5 foods to eat right after a workout. These foods will fuel your body without negating the work you did.
1. Whey Protein Isolate
This should be a staple in everyone’s gym bag (if it isn’t already!!). Whey protein comes in three forms; whey isolate, whey concentrate and whey hydrolysate. Whey isolate is an affordable and convenient lactose-free protein that will feed your muscles with amino acids and other nutrients your body needs after a workout. Simply mix whey protein isolate in with almond milk for the perfect post-workout shake. If you ever tire of a shake, you can always have some whey protein isolate pancakes. Yum!
2. Rice Cakes or White Rice
You may be thinking, “Wait a sec, I thought carbs were bad!!” Not exactly—it’s just a matter of eating the right kinds of carbohydrates. Rice cakes or white rice contain fast-acting carbs that digest quickly. Fast acting carbs replenish glycogen, spike insulin and speed recovery.
The best post-workout fruits include bananas, raisins, pears, grapes, watermelon and blueberries. These fruits offer the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body needs to replenish itself after an intense workout. Additionally, fruits have fast-acting carbs that will replenish glycogen and help your body recover, just like rice cakes!
4. Powerade Zero
Although it’s not exactly a “food”, Powerade Zero is a great post-workout liquid that will help you recover. Many sports drinks, such as Gatorade, were created to refuel athletes during and after strenuous athletic competition. But since the creation of sports drinks, many have been altered and are high in sugar and sodium. Powerade Zero, on the other hand, is low in everything (including calories!). So if you’re craving something other than water after your workout, grab a Powerade Zero.
Chicken and turkey contain protein that your body digests and turns into amino acids. This is important because amino acids drive the process of protein synthesis that we need after a solid workout.
Eating a good post-workout meal is essential to fuel your body and let you get the most put of what you’re doing in the gym. Focus on consuming your post-workout meal 30-60 minutes after training. The foods we listed above are to give you some ideas, but they are not the only things to eat following a workout! As a good baseline, eat something with .25 grams of protein and .25-.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight.