We put a lot of time and hard work into our workouts, pushing harder than before, constantly developing, and trying to perform better each time to reach our goal.
But how many of us use nutrition to improve our performance, post-workout?
Consuming the right nutrients after exercise is an important part of our workout.
During exercise, our muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel. This results in our muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. We also use some of the proteins in our muscles, which get broken down and damaged.
Once we finish our workout, the body tries to replenish its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins. By consuming the right balance of nutrients soon after we’ve exercised, we can help our body recover faster.
The two main food groups we need to consume are carbohydrates and proteins. These food groups help the body:
• Restore glycogen stores.
• Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth).
• Enhance recovery.
Our bodies use glycogen stores at different rates, depending on the activity and intensity. An endurance athlete would use more glycogen than a bodybuilder, therefore we need to keep in mind that the different types of activity we do will need a different nutrition plan.
It is also interesting to note that glycogen synthesis, is better stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed at the same time. Studies also suggest a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein, for example, 90g carbs & 30g protein.
By consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout, our body gets the full range of amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild. It also gives us the building blocks to build new muscle tissue.
Timing is very important when it comes to post-workout nutrition. Our body's ability to replenish glycogen and protein stores is enhanced after you exercise. It’s recommended to consume our post-workout nutrition as soon as possible, and certainly no later than 45 minutes after we finish our workout.
Remember that by choosing foods we can digest more easily will promote faster nutrient absorption.
Carbs - Sweet potatoes, Chocolate milk, Fruits (banana, pineapple, berries, kiwi), Rice cakes, Rice, Pasta and dark, leafy green vegetables are all good sources of quick carbs.
Protein - Protein powder, Eggs, Greek yogurt, Cottage cheese, Salmon, Chicken, Protein bar and Tuna.
There’s enough there to come up with a whole variety of different post-workout meals. Protein shake and banana if we are short of time, but if we have time to prep before or after the workout we could have salmon with sweet potato, cottage cheese and fruits or Greek yogurt, berries and granola… just a few examples.
And finally, replenishing lost water and electrolytes is vitally important and can help maximize the benefits of our workout. Staying hydrated a very important… we covered this topic in last Wednesday’s post on ‘The importance of water’, it’s well worth a read if you haven’t done so already.
What is your go-to post-workout food?
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