Nutrition plays a key role in your development as an athlete or workout enthusiast. It can help you see optimal results from the training you do. Sure, you can get a lot done without taking advantage of the foods you eat, but eventually you’ll hit a plateau. These plateaus can’t be broken with more lifting or running, but instead require more focus on your nutrition. Post workout snacks are a great way place to start.
Why Eat Post Workout?
The period immediately following your workout is crucial. This is when your body is in need of some serious refueling. You use a lot of energy during exercise, and some may be using more than others. If you want to get your body back to normal, you’re going to need to replace what was lost.
So, what do you lose during exercise?
For starters, you burn glycogen, which is a form of stored glucose. This is your main source of energy for movement. Without a good store of this fuel source, you’ll be tired and sluggish during workouts. You also lose electrolytes and water through your sweat, which is needed to optimally function properly. Some of this comes from food, but much of it can even be supplemented.
Muscle tissue is microscopically torn during exercise, and while this sounds like a bad thing it’s crucial for rebuilding itself. Muscle tissue goes through what is called hypertrophy, where tissue is broken down from an outside stimulus and built back bigger and stronger as an adaptation. You need to be “refueling” with the macronutrient protein to make this happen faster and more efficiently, as protein and amino acids are the building blocks for muscle tissue.
It should also be noted that there is no “window” of opportunity for this refueling. As long as you make sure to get it in within 3 hours of your workout, you’ll be just fine!
As you can see, there’s a lot to cover post workout. So, let’s review some good snacks for post-workout nutrition.
What Should You Eat?
You’re going to need three things: Protein, Carbs, Electrolytes. You can have a snack that covers all of these or one at a time. Regardless, if you hit these bases, you’ll be set with post-workout nutrition.
For protein, shakes are a great option. You may be able to find some that have good post workout carbs as well. They’re super quick and easy to take on the go, which helps if you’re a busy person. You can even bring your shake with you to the gym and have it on hand for when you’re done.
Protein bars are another great post-workout snack that is convenient. Now, protein bars may have some ingredients that you don’t do well with, so make sure to watch those labels. Most will have some carbs in them, which can help replace glycogen too.
As far as carbs go, it’s great to just add them in with your protein snack. However, if you decide to have this as something separate, you’ll want it to be simple. There are complex and simple sources of carbs. Simple carbs will break down the fastest and enter your system swiftly. You may have seen the people who throw back gummy bears as a post-workout snack, and this isn’t necessarily wrong. However, you can always go the more natural route with some kind of fruit. Bananas are a great post-workout snack for their carbs and the many different vitamins/minerals they contain.
Electrolytes are best replaced by drinking them. This can be done with a sports drink (zero sugar is preferred unless you need carbs) or a powdered supplement. There are supplements now that come in packets full of minerals and electrolytes to replace what you lost. They’re easy to use and can be added to any shaker or bottle.
You could refuel with a snack that includes a protein shake, banana, and sports drink. It can really be that simple, but also extremely effective. While there will always be a million things in your head about nutrition, the best way to see results is by keeping it simple. Do the things that are proven to work, and you’ll have results in no time. Give them a try and see how much better you feel after working out!
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