When about to hit a workout most of us have a light meal or snack to boost our energy levels and help make the most out of our gym session. Whether it’s a small meal, fruit, nuts or even a pre workout supplement, it’s surprising how much fuelling our body pre workout, can help maximise our time spent in the gym. Although it’s important to nourish your body before a workout, it’s just as important to feed your muscles afterwards as well. For quite a while I was guilty of not refuelling my body after exercising but I then realised how important it is.
During a workout your muscles start to use up their glycogen, a type of glucose which acts as a form of energy for your body. As a result of this, your muscles can become fatigued of glycogen and cause damage and break downs within the muscle tissue. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to refuel your body post workout and help increase muscle growth, decrease the muscle tissue from breaking down and to help rebuild the glycogen in your body.
To help understand how you can refuel your body after a workout, I thought I’d give you a few suggestions of the nutritious foods that can help your body and muscles recover. If you are looking to introduce a post workout meal to your day, then it’s best to try and consume it within 45 minutes of exercising, to help achieve the maximum results.
It doesn’t matter how hard you try to prevent it, your body will suffer from muscle protein breakdown, you just need to feed your muscles with the correct nutrients post workout. Whether you’re weight training or completing a session of cardio, you need to consume the correct amount of protein to help repair the muscle tissue. Most people opt for a protein shake post workout and they definitely have their benefits. A quick fix packed with protein, low in sugar and reasonably priced; but it’s not your only option. Chicken, salmon, eggs and Greek yoghurt are just a few other foods that are full of protein and help prevent the breakdown in muscle.
As I’ve previously mentioned, during exercise your body’s glycogen acts as fuel and depending on the type of exercise you’re doing, depends on how much glycogen is used. If you prefer a more cardio focused workout then it’s important to consume more carbs than you would if you were weight training. Consuming carbs after a workout will help replenish your body and help rebuild the glycogen stores. So what carbs are best? Potatoes, fruits such as a banana, rice cakes and pasta are a few of the most nutritious carbs you can consume.
A lot of people try to avoid fats at all costs but you need them to help gain a balanced diet and to hit your macros. For most of us when we hear the word fat, we automatically think bad but it’s important to consume the better fats to help aid recovery post workout. For anyone who follows a meal plan or breaks down their macros, you’ll know that fats are a smaller percentage of our diet, but they’re still just as important. Foods like nuts, avocado and nut butters are all good fats that are important in your diet.
Post workout meal examples
After you’ve worked out your protein, carb and fat intake, you can add them together to make a muscle refuelling, post workout meal. Below are a few meal examples but you can also make alternative tasty snacks like protein pancakes. I recently made some and added more flavour by topping with Greek yoghurt, blueberries and finished off by adding some maple zero syrup.
- Wholemeal toast and peanut butter
- Greek yoghurt, fruit and granola
- Chicken and sweet potato
- Cottage cheese and rice crackers
There really are plenty of quick and easy meals that you can enjoy after an intensive workout. Refuelling your body throughout the day is really important, especially before and after exercising. Doing this means you’ll be powered for your workout and prevent the breakdown in the muscles protein.