If you take your training seriously, the same should apply to your post workout nutrition - anything less means you’ll be missing opportunities.
Understanding the importance of post exercise nutrition requires knowledge of how resistance training impacts your muscles. Essentially, a workout will initially damage your muscles causing microtears to your fibres and depleting them of glycogen, your muscles store of energy.
Your post-workout aim therefore is to repair the damage and replenish energy stores as quickly as possible - it’s this cycle of muscle breakdown (on a micro-level) and build up again that results in muscular hypertrophy.
The correct post workout food, alongside good blood flow to your muscles, will do just that, kickstart the recovery process allowing you grow bigger, stronger and be able to train again sooner.
This leaves two main questions:
- What food should I be eating post workout?
- When should I be eating it?
What should I eat after training?
Post-workout nutrition should centre around two key macronutrients: protein and carbohydrates.
Studies have shown that high carbohydrate consumption within 30 minutes after exercise has been shown to stimulate muscle glycogen synthesis. Between 0.8-1.2g/kg bodyweight of carbs has also been cited to maximally stimulate protein synthesis. This sounds like a large amount but there’s a window straight after exercise where your muscles are primed for nutrient uptake.
On the protein front, you should be aiming for 0.3-0.5g of protein/kg bodyweight. If you weight 80kg this equates to 24-40g of protein. Post exercise intake of essential amino acids within three hours stimulates protein synthesis, which may even be boosted with added carbs.
For a great rule of thumb, try and consume in the ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein) to maximise recovery and repair those muscle fibres consumed within an hour post workout.
With this in mind, what foods should you be eating after a workout?
Best sources of protein post-workout
As well as meat and fish, dairy is a great source of protein and has been shown to induce muscle hypertrophy when consumed after resistance training.
- Whole eggs
- Smoked salmon & cream cheese
- Greek yoghurt
- Cottage cheese
- Chicken or turkey
- Supplement with protein powder
Best sources of carbohydrates post-workout
Carbs are a necessity post-workout to aid recovery and restock energy levels of worked muscles. Some of the best sources you can consume are, combined with some of the protein foods above, include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole-wheat pitta
- Rice cakes or wholegrain crackers
- Plenty of fruit
- Supplement with a high carb protein shake
Getting the right amount of protein and carbohydrates after training and within the correct post-workout window is crucial for you to maximise protein synthesis, replenish glycogen stores in your muscles and get you on the road to recovery for your next session.