You made it through your workout. Hooray! You succeeded in taking yet another step towards a healthier you. But did you know that what you eat after your workout along with when you eat it could impact the extent of the health benefits gained by your physical activity?
Your body uses a lot of energy to get you through a workout. So it makes sense that you need to replenish this lost energy. The ideal time to eat is within fifteen minutes to two hours after a workout. This is when your metabolism is elevated and your body’s ability to repair and recover is at its peak. By waiting two hours or longer to eat after working out, research has shown that your body’s ability to replenish lost energy decreases by fifty percent.
To help you body recover from a workout, your body needs a mix of carbohydrates and protein. Protein is essential in building and repairing your muscle tissue. It will also help to reduce muscle soreness. Carbohydrates will help replace the energy lost during exercise. You should aim for 10-15 grams of protein and 30-40 grams of carbohydrates in your post-workout meal.
In addition to carbohydrates and protein, your body uses nutrients to help recover from a workout. Potassium, found in foods such as bananas and orange juice, will help restore your body’s fluid levels. Omega-3, found in fish, and bromelain, found in pineapple, are anti-inflammatories that can help reduce swelling from bruises, sprains and strains. Vitamin C can help repair tissue. The antioxidants in kiwi help reduce muscle soreness. And the antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to triple your body’s recovery rate after an intense workout.
The one thing your body doesn’t need after a workout is fat. Including fat in your post-workout meal may slow digestion and your body’s absorption of carbohydrates and proteins. This, in turn, slows muscle recovery.
Some good post-workout meals include:
· Sports drink or juice
· Low-fat chocolate milk
· Protein shake
· Low-fat fruit smoothie
· Low-fat cottage cheese and fruit
· Hard-boiled egg
· Low-fat string cheese and crackers
· Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread
· Stir fry with lean meat, vegetables and brown rice
· Grilled fish with vegetables
· Vegetable omelet with toast
· Whole grain pita with hummus
Depending on the intensity of your workout, you may be ravenous or not the least bit hungry. You may also find your level of hunger to be somewhere in between. Regardless of the level, it is important to consume some amount of calories to maximize the benefits from your increased metabolism and begin the process of muscle repair. The key is to find the foods that work best for your body, and be consistent. If you are concerned about your pre-workout diet, schedule an appointment to speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian.
SandraInstructor, Cumming Kickboxing Classes
Choe's HapKiDo of Cumming and Suwanee
3020 Old Atlanta Rd.
Cumming, GA 30041