The Importance of Refueling After A Workout
Calorie Intake within 30-45 minutes after a workout is crucial to restore your muscles and recharge your body. Your post-workout meal is a priority to maintain and to build lean muscle as well as to increase metabolism by burning more calories throughout the day.
Many women run away from the word “carbohydrates” because they’ve been known to cause weight gain. However, your post workout meal should actually consist of healthy forms of carbohydrates. All intense forms of exercise use carbohydrates for energy and also helps minimize protein breakdown. Carbs are the first and easiest forms of energy to be broken down, so having them after a workout is important for recovery. If you are trying to lose weight or body fat by cutting your carb intake, save your carb intake for after your workout session.
Carbohydrate examples: rice, sweet potatoes, beans
(20 grams at least for a women)
Lower glycemic index carbohydrates such as sweet potato provide sustained energy for intense workouts, while higher glycemic carbs such as white rice or red potatoes digest faster and replenish your glycogen quickly. Having high glycemic carbs post workout can take you from feeling completely exhausted to feeling satisfied. It can also take away any cravings for starchy or sugary carbs and keep you refueled to stay on track to eating properly.
Aside from carbs, protein assists in rebuilding and repairing your muscles. The body is continuously breaking down proteins, so it is essential after a workout.
Examples of protein; chicken, turkey, lean beef, eggs
(15-20 grams at least for women)
Right after your workout isn’t the best time to have a big meal because the longer it takes to digest, the longer it will take to for those nutrients to reach your muscle cells.
Fruits are an ideal simple and natural sugar that can help raise your insulin levels to help push all your nutrients and supplementation you are taking into your cells which would make an important meal/snack for your post workout. Time can be our worst enemy, so whipping up a post-workout protein shake with fruit is a great way to get all the nutrients you need. It will help you stick to reaching your fitness goal, rather than making a meal, especially if you have a busy lifestyle.
Example: Protein shake with few berries or half of a banana (with non dairy milk-such as unsweetened almond/coconut milk.
Remember: Making sure you drink enough water after your workouts seems like a no-brainer, but many people forget and aren’t drinking enough fluids.
Healthy Fats are also a great way to add to your post-workout smoothie. You may have been told to stay away from fats, but it actually depends on the types of fasts you’re consuming. Having healthy fats right after a workout can reduce insulin in the body, while the protein and carbs to restore its glycogen in the muscle cells, helping you recover faster. However, eating fats too early can be hard to digest because your blood hasn’t fully returned from the muscle cells back to your stomach immediately after a workout. Make sure to wait a few minutes before consuming these healthy fats.
Examples: almond butter, coconut butter, avocado, chia/flax seeds
(One tablespoon in a smoothie should be plenty.)
Greens aren’t the typical ingredient in a post workout meal, but adding some to your smoothie may be any easy way to get your daily veggie dose. Greens are full of magnesium which aids in muscle recovery and lowers the cortisol in your body, which is at its highest right after your workout. Greens are low in calories, high in nutrients, and full in fiber.
Examples: romaine, spinach, kale