What Should You Eat after a Workout?

Food items to eat after workout

A popular exercising myth is to starve oneself after working out. It is believed that if you eat after exercising, you gain all the weight you lost and pile on even more pounds. But the exact opposite is true. To aid your weight loss or workout, you must eat something after a workout. Eating after a workout is like filling petrol in your car, after a long drive. It re-energizes you and strengthens you for the day or night ahead. But what should you eat after a workout? Eating chocolate or drinking coke sounds very tempting, but your body takes that sort of food and immediately turns it into fat.

What Food to Eat, Post Exercise?

Post workout nutrition involves the following food groups:

Water: You workout and sweat, so you should make up for the loss of water from your body. Keep yourself hydrated, during and after your workout. Try to drink 16-20 ounces of water, immediately after your workout.

Calories: Okay, this sounds confusing, working out means losing calories right? The idea here, is to eat enough calories, to equal 50% of what you lost during your exercise. For e.g. If you lose 300 calories, make up by eating 150 calories later. This does not affect your weight burning efforts.

Carbohydrates: When you workout, your muscles lose whatever energy they have stored up. So yes, you do lose weight, but you need some energy for the next exercise session as well. If you don’t fill up on energy, then the muscles remain tired and you have less vigor and zest for your next workout. So stock up on carbohydrates, to restore your energy levels.

Proteins: These are necessary to start the muscle rebuilding and repairing process.

So to sum up, foods high in carbohydrates, moderate protein content, no fats and plenty of water are what you should eat after a workout! Here are some post workout snack ideas:

  • Lean turkey, chicken, ham, tuna or roast beef sandwich
  • Low fat yogurt and fruit
  • High fiber cereal with skim milk
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Omelet with veggies
  • Energy bars
  • Reduced fat cheese and crackers
  • Rice cakes
  • Stir-fried veggies with chicken/shrimp/tofu
  • Pancakes (not laden with syrup or butter) and eggs
  • Fruit smoothies or juice
  • Bread, bagel or muffin with peanut butter or cheese slice
  • Non-fat chocolate milk
  • Hummus and pita
  • Cottage cheese with fruit

Post-workout Diet to Gain Mass

If you are training to gain mass, then your post exercise meal is of great importance to your workout. During weight training, the muscles break down and then rebuild into new ones. To rebuild, they need food as raw materials for building. What food and how fast you give them the food, makes for better muscles. Sports drinks and good protein sources are the best food items for immediate muscle gain. Carbohydrates are also necessary here. The post-workout period is the best time to feed your muscles, as they will absorb anything and turn it into nutrition, rather than fat.

Carb Food Protein Food
Oatmeal, Sweetened Lean Red Meat
White Rice Eggs
White Bread Fish
Mashed Potatoes Chicken
Bananas Cottage Cheese
Pineapple Whey Protein Shake

How Soon Should You Eat After a Workout?

There’s a time frame after your workout, that your body is most receptive to absorbing nutrition. The maximum limit is within 2 hours of your workout session. Minimum varies from person to person. Some can eat 5 minutes after exercising, while others feel sick. So, to be safe, eat something around 20-30 minutes after exercising. It’s important to understand how much you should eat after a workout as well. You might suddenly feel extra hungry and overeat, then end up feeling bloated and sluggish. Eat in moderation, especially if you are eating a meal later. Pack small snacks, so that they are at hand and you will eat only that much. Avoid sitting down at a restaurant, you”ll feel like hogging. Instead, pack it up and eat it at home. Don’t crib on food either, your body might be trying to tell you it’s feeling low on energy, so don’t ignore your hunger pangs. Later, you could end up overeating at dinner, to appease your ignored appetite. So a combination of exercise, and pre- and post-workout food, is necessary to get the maximum benefit out of your workout. Stay fit!

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