As fitness buffs, a lot of people mistakenly think that we can eat just whatever and not give a second thought as to what we put into our bodies. After all, we’re just going to burn it all off in the gym later anyway, right? Honestly, that could not be further from the truth!
The fact is, what you eat plays a huge role in your exercise performance. Not only do you need to make sure you are properly fueling yourself for your next workout, you also need to be careful to also replenish yourself afterward. Failure to do so can lead to poor mood and fatigue (also known as “the hangries”), injuries, and can even make it harder to get those much-coveted gains.
So what should you be eating after a workout? While there is no one clear-cut answer for all people, we do have some general guidelines to help you stay both fit and healthy.
Protein, protein, protein.
Protein is one of the best things that you can eat after a serious workout. Not only can it help with satiety, it can also lead to muscle synthesis. That means that if you want to get stronger and leaner, you need to eat protein. Reach for at least 20 grams of the good stuff immediately after your workout, preferably from whole foods (such as chicken, fish, or Greek yogurt).
Add a few carbs, too.
Many people tend to shy away from carbohydrates these days, especially with various different diets vilifying them. Carbs don’t have to be your enemy, though, and can actually be quite beneficial after a workout. Not only do they play a small role in helping to build muscle, they are also essential for replenishing your glycogen stores. Instead of reaching for the simple carbohydrates found junk food (as tempting as it may be!), try to get your carbs from foods like sweet potatoes and whole grains (like brown rice or oats).
Don’t forget to hydrate.
Whether you sweat like a beast or you barely glow after a workout, you still want to be sure to properly hydrate after a good workout. Many of us are so chronically dehydrated, we may not even realize how thirsty we really are. Preload with about 20 to 30 ounces of water before you start and top it up with another 8 ounces per every fifteen minutes of exercise. Weigh yourself before you start exercising, then once more after you finish. For every pound you sweated out, chug at least 16 ounces of water.
While we all have our own unique fitness goals, it’s important to make sure you properly refuel yourself after you work out — not only to help you reach your optimal fitness level, but also to help prevent you from biting someone’s head off in a fit of post-workout hunger. To learn more about exercise nutrition, or to get started on your own personal fitness journey, please reach out to us today!