When we work out, our muscles use glycogen (the body’s preferred fuel source) in our muscles and tissues. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen and some proteins can be broken down and damaged during work out.
After your workout, it is a natural tendency for your body to rebuild glycogen stores and muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients especially carbs and protein soon after working out can help your body replenish them easily.
Post-workout meal is important because:
- decrease muscle protein breakdown
- increase muscle protein synthesis (growth)
- restore glycogen stores
- enhance recovery
Role of different nutrients after a workout
Some studies found that eating protein pre-workout and post-workout has a similar effect on muscle strength. During work out our body triggers the breakdown of muscle protein. The rate of muscle breakdown depends upon the intensity of the exercise and the level of your training.
Studies have shown that taking 20–40 grams of protein can maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise. In addition, eating protein before exercise may decrease the amount of protein to be eaten after a workout without affecting recovery.
If you are aiming to build muscle, eating high-quality protein within the first 2 hours after a workout may stimulate your body to create the building blocks for new muscle tissue. Some of the foods rich in protein are:
- animal- or plant-based protein powder
- Nuts & Seeds
- Paneer & Tofu
Your body uses glycogen as fuel during exercise for energy. So, consuming carbs after your workout may help to restore the glycogen stores.
The rate of glycogen store utilization depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports like cardio cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training like weight training. So, in endurance sports (running, swimming, etc.), you might need to consume more carbs in post-workout meals than in weightlifting.
Eating a high-carb diet of 3.6-5.5 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight each day after exercise can help you restore your glycogen stores.
Some other studies have shown that insulin secretion (responsible for glycogen synthesis) is better stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed in one meal. Therefore, consuming carbs and protein together after exercise can maximize protein and glycogen synthesis. They should be consumed in the 3 to 1 ratio (carbs to protein). For example, 120 grams of carbs requires 40 grams of protein. Foods rich in carbohydrates are:
- sweet potatoes
- chocolate milk
- quinoa and other grains
- fruits (such as pineapple, berries, banana, and kiwi)
- rice cakes
- whole grain bread
Many people think that consuming fat in post work out meal slows digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. There is not enough evidence to say whether you should not intake fats after a workout or not.
Some studies have shown that muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected even after consuming a high-fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out. So, it is clear that intaking some fat in your post-workout meal may not affect your recovery.
- nut butter
- trail mix (dried fruits and nuts)
Drink adequate water
It is important to drink an adequate amount of water before and after your workout. Hydration your body to maximize the results. During exercise, you lose water and electrolytes through sweat. Replenishing these after a workout is essential for recovery. Depending on the intensity of your workout, water or an electrolyte drink is recommended to replenish water and electrolyte losses.
Also Visit : List of hydrating drinks besides Water