What is the Best Post-Workout Meal and Supplement?
Do you tend to reward yourself after an intense workout with your favorite fried or sugary food? You should rethink your post-workout meals. This meal may just be the most important one of your day. Whether you are hitting the gym to lose weight or for bodybuilding, your body needs the right nourishment, at the right time, and in the right quantities.
The science of post-workout nutrition can be complex. It depends on how your body works after a workout, and the rates at which foods are digested and nutrition is absorbed from them. But in general, there are some basic points to note: in order to maximize the results of your training, you need to replenish the glycogen and amino acids that were lost during your workout.
What Do Yo Need a Post-Workout Meal?
Your muscles store excess energy in the form of protein and glycogen. When you hit the gym after a pre-workout meal (which is equally important), this food is broken down for energy. When all of the energy from your pre-workout meal is used up, your body turns to the glycogen stores in your muscles for more energy. After you have worked out for a few hours, the protein levels in your muscles drop. Muscles begin to break down. However, the hour following exercise is also when your body is primed for the maximum absorption of energy and amino acids from the foods you eat. This is the time to restock the lost stores of nutrients in your body, with a post-workout meal.
To sum it up: What you eat and when, before and after your workout, is important. By eating certain foods that give you specific nutrients after a workout, you can improve your performance, body composition, and recovery.
What Are the Things to Keep in Mind When Planning a Post-Workout Meal?
Studies have found that post-workout nutrition should have three goals; to replace lost glycogen, to reduce breakdown of protein (increase muscle mass), and to increase the synthesis of protein (to repair damage). Ensuring that you have a good post-workout meal or supplement will keep you stress-free, relieve muscle soreness, and improve recovery. Also, the ability to build muscles, your immunity, and the body’s ability to use up fat and so on.
What Should You Eat After Workouts?
To get the best outcome, your post-workout meal or shake should be a combination of carbs and proteins. Carbohydrates will replace glycogen and improve the role of insulin in the transport of essential nutrients. Proteins will release amino acids into your bloodstream to help your body build and repair muscles.
The natural tendency for athletes and fitness enthusiasts is to turn to protein shakes or chicken and rice for their pick-me-up after the gym. This is common among people who don’t always have the time to prepare whole meals that give them all the nutrition they need. But the same meal day in day out can get boring. Here are some ideas for post-workout meals that taste great and give you great results.
- Protein-Rich Pancakes
If you workout in the mornings, pancakes are a great meal option to fill you up and give you the nutrients you need. Mix half cup cottage cheese, half cup rolled oats, four egg whites, an eighth of a teaspoon of baking powder and half a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Use this pancake mix to make pancakes that you can eat topped with berries or slices of banana.
The cottage cheese and eggs will give your body loads of protein to work with. The oats and banana will give you plenty of carbs. You should know by now that whole carbs are what you should be having and not High GI sugary or baked carbs that break down quickly and give you a burst of energy only to burn you out quickly. You should also avoid sugary syrups over your pancakes for best results.
- Tuna-Topped Crackers
Enjoy a can of tuna with half a cup of whole-grain crackers, crushed. You can add a dash of pepper, mustard, a drop of olive oil (extra virgin) and optional pickles, chopped up finely.
Tuna is a great source of lean protein, containing lower calories and fat than chicken but comparable amounts of protein. In addition, it is potassium rich, lower in sodium than chicken, and contains plenty of other vitamins as well. This meal is quick to make and perfect if you’re always on the run.
- Sandwich Wraps
Use wholegrain wraps and some turkey or chicken plus chopped veggies to whip up some sandwich wraps. Sandwich wraps are a natural post-workout meal choice, since they are easy-to-make and so versatile.
Many people prefer salads after working out – they are refreshing and easy to put together with a variety of vegetables and proteins. Make sure that your salad contains some carbs in the form of grains as well. An idea for a wholesome and delicious salad: mix at least half a cup of quinoa with 4 cups of baby spinach and coarsely chopped dried apricots with cherry tomatoes, onion, almonds, Moroccan spiced lemon dressing and some minced garlic. The dressing is made with yogurt, lemon juice, honey, cinnamon, cumin and ginger.
Another easier option is to mix half a cup of brown rice with half a can tuna, 2 ounces grape tomatoes, half an avocado (sliced), half a shallot, some basil leaves, and a salad dressing of olive oil, lime juice and pepper.
- Fruit Salads
Fruits give you carbohydrates as well as enzymes to break down nutrients in the body for easy transport. Make yourself fruit salads with pineapple, kiwi and your favorite berries for a quick post-workout snack. Pineapple is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, helping your muscles to heal quicker. Kiwi helps with digestion. Berries are loaded with antioxidants and good carbs.
Supplements are quick and easy to consume and are extremely beneficial when it comes to building muscle. Simply whip up a drink and carry with you, if you’re on the go. There are so many supplements in the market that a beginner can have a hard time choosing the perfect one for their post-workout needs. Your post-workout supplement must contain carbohydrates, BCAA blend (branched chain amino acid), and may contain tart cherry powder or juice, Vitamin B6 and B12, Vitamin C. BCAA contains three important amino acids – valine, isoleucine, and leucine giving you the proteins commonly found in meat and eggs. As for quantity, this will depend on the type of workout you are doing. An athlete may consume up to 20 grams of BCAA daily and 3.2 gms to 4.5 gms of carbs per pound of bodyweight.
In conclusion, put careful planning into your post-workout meals for maximizing your training. Also, try to take advantage of the “window period” after exertion when the body is most able to absorb nutrients from what you eat. If you’re trying to build muscle, eat at least 30 to 35 grams of carbs and 30 grams of protein within 15 minutes of your workout. If you’re trying to lose weight or just trying to stay in shape, you can eat any time within an hour after you exercise.