Since we talked about what you should eat pre-workout last week, let’s talk about what you should eat post-workout today. Many people think a lot about what they eat before a workout, but what you eat after also makes a difference, so don’t skip your post-workout meals. Do your best to choose foods that have the nutrients that your body needs the most after a workout.
But first, instead of telling you what foods to eat, I think it’s just as important to understand why you should be eating these foods after your workout.
On a cellular level, when you work out, your body is using your glycogen stores as fuel and breaking down muscle fibers. So in that sense, the macronutrients that you want to intake are carbs and protein in order to replace what you’ve burned through and repair the muscles that you just worked out.
These nutrients are essential in recovery and will make a difference in repairing and rebuilding your muscles. The amount of protein that is recommended for maximizing your gains will depend on what type of workouts you’re doing. If it’s more strength-based, you won’t need as much carbs as someone doing an endurance-based workout.
In general, 20-40 grams of protein seems to be the recommendation, but how much protein you need is based on how much you weigh, what your goals are (losing weight? bulking? toning? etc.) and what type of workouts you’re doing.
Timing also matters. Most people say to eat within 1 hour after working out. Personally, I like to recommend that people eat within 40 or so minutes after exercise, if possible.
One of my go-to post-workout meals is a cup of brown rice (complex carb) and around 8 ounces of chicken for protein.
Here are some ideas for food that you could eat after a workout:
- Salmon and sweet potato
- Egg and whole wheat toast
- Greek yogurt and fruit
- Turkey or chicken and Quinoa
- Protein shake
Healthy fats are also good for you, so feel free to eat some avocados, nuts, nut butters, etc.
I think it’s also important to note . . . if you’re looking to lose weight, it’s not a good idea to skip meals after a workout. Some people think that it’ll get them to their weight loss goals faster, but most of the time it’ll work against you for a couple of reasons. First, not replenishing your protein and carbs means that you won’t be able to help your body rebuild & repair and you won’t have the metabolic gains and fat burn from your workout. Second, if you push off eating you’ll be much hungrier and more likely to make bad food decisions and/or overeat once you do eat.
Planning out your pre- and post-workout meals will help you reach your goals faster, so remember to give some thought to what you eat before and after your workouts.