Hard, intense workouts need the right nutrition to fuel and replenish your tired, working muscles. In fact, what you put into your body after a workout is just as crucial as to what you take in right before one. When you’re working out, your muscles utilize glycogen that it has stored for fuel. This eventually leads to your muscles being depleted of glycogen and some proteins in your muscles getting broken down and damaged.
And so, once your workout is done, your body looks to rebuild its glycogen storage and repair those muscle proteins. Consuming the right nutrients not long after your workout can help your body do this faster. It is especially crucial to eat carbs and protein after your workout. Doing so has plenty of benefits such as:
- Reducing muscle protein breakdown
- Increasing muscle protein synthesis
- Restoring glycogen storage
- Better recovery
Research has also determined that eating the right balance of carbohydrates and proteins is very important after exercise. Studies show when to eat is reliant on the kind of workout you performed. When doing intense weight resistance workouts wherein the aim is to increase muscle size, experts recommend eating 20–30 grams of lean protein and 30–40 grams of healthy carbohydrates as close to your post-workout as possible.
Meanwhile, if you are doing light workouts where you’re looking to stay in shape, you can consume a well-balanced meal that has the same ratio up to an hour after your workout. There are even some theories that propose the anabolic window lessens as time progresses without adequate carbohydrate and protein intake.
While many experts strongly suggest eating within an hour after weight training or as near to your post-workout as possible, there are studies that relay that the anabolic window can last at least 24 hours. It appears the most significant element in your post-workout meal is not essentially nutrient timing but just making sure you are consuming the proper foods for your individualized fitness goals.
Here are a few examples of recipes of dishes and smoothies that you can consume after a workout:
1) Tarragon Tuna Salad
- 2 cans (6 ounces each) light water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
- 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- Lettuce leaves, optional
In a small bowl, mix the tuna, celery and onion. Then, mix in the mayonnaise, parsley, lemon juice, tarragon, mustard and pepper, and stir into tuna mixture. If you want, you can also serve this on lettuce leaves.
2) Ginger-Kale Smoothies
- 1-1/4 cups orange juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 cups torn fresh kale
- 1 medium apple, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
- 4 ice cubes
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric or 1/4-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and finely chopped
- Dash cayenne pepper
Place all ingredients in a blender, and then cover and process until blended. Make sure to serve immediately.
3) Fruit-Filled French Toast Wraps
- 3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
- 2/3 cup sliced ripe banana
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 whole wheat tortillas (8 inches)
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 2/3 cup sliced fresh strawberries
- 2/3 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup granola
- additional vanilla yogurt, strawberries, blueberries and granola
In a small bowl, mix the yogurt and banana. In a separate shallow bowl, you must whisk the egg, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg and then, dip both sides of each tortilla in the egg mixture. On a skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat and add tortilla and cook until it is golden brown. One or two minutes on each side should suffice.
Afterwards, you can spoon the yogurt mixture down the middle of the tortillas, and top with strawberries, blueberries and granola. Roll up each tortilla. You can top with additional yogurt, berries and granola if you want some additional flavor.
4) Peanut Butter Oatmeal
- 1-3/4 cups water
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Chopped apple, optional
In a small saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil before stirring in oats. Then, cook and stir five minutes over medium heat. Afterwards, transfer the oatmeal to two bowls and in each bowl, stir half each peanut butter, honey, flaxseed, cinnamon and, if you want, apple.
As important as proper nutrition is after a workout, supplementation is also crucial if you really want to maximize the effects of your exercise session. If you want to check out what the best supplements are, go visit www.trionutrition.com.