Basic Post-Workout Nutrition
Did you know that the foods you eat after your workout are just as important as the workout itself?
Learn how to nourish your body post workout - they two key nutrients we will talk about are protein and carbohydrates.
Protein is an important macronutrient which is needed to build muscle mass, maintain energy levels, increase satiety and support post exercise recovery. It is made up of amino acids, which our body produces except for the 9 essential amino acids, which we need to get from our diet.
When we exercise our muscles tear and stitch back together. Protein is needed for optimal recovery to help build them up stronger. You may be leaving yourself open to muscle wasting or injury if you do not nourish your body properly.
Sources of protein
Animal foods such as poultry, meat, eggs and dairy foods, contain all 9 essential amino acids, while plant foods such as legumes and pulses contain some of these in varying amounts.
Quality of protein
The quality of various protein rich foods can affect your recovery. For example studies have shown that we benefit the most post-exercise from consuming meals rich in Branched Chain Amino Acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. These are found in animal foods as well as pea protein and pea protein/brown rice blended protein powders.
Quantity of protein
You may be surprised to learn that we don't need a crazy amount of protein for recovery and muscle adaptations/maintenance.
If you are new to exercise you will need a bit more that the average person every day, however as you continue you will not require as much for the necessary maintenance. For your average amount you can calculate how many grams of protein you need here.
The most important thing is to make sure the timing of your protein intake is in the right window. See below.
Sometimes it is hard to eat after exercise because you feel sick or are time poor, that is where protein powders come in. Read what I have to say about protein powders here on the Hummingbird blog.
Carbohydrates are important for a quick boost of energy. Studies have shown that it is a good idea to consume carbohydrates with protein post exercise because a) it means that carbs are all utilised for energy in lieu or protein, thus saving your protein for your muscles repair and maintenance and b) when the glucose is taken to the cells needing energy protein comes along for the ride, enhancing the distribution of protein throughout the body.
If you are low on energy or doing any intense sports which require a lot of energy, read this post on basic pre-exercise nutrition.
Sources of carbs
I always like to choose carbohydrates which are high in fibre and nutrient dense. So things like vegetables, wholemeal bread and crackers, brown rice, potato and sweet potatoes are some great examples.
This for me depends on how I am feeling throughout the day, but I usually choose one serve of carbohydrates for a post workout meal. Serving sizes can be found here.
Post Exercise Snacks & Meals + Timing
Yoghurt, muesli and berries
Yoghurt and fruit
Meat & salad roll
Spaghetti with beef bolognese sauce and veggies
Chicken/beef/fish/chickpea burrito with salad and cheese
Small tin of tuna on wholegrain crackers plus fruit
Peanut butter and wholegrains or fruit
Omelette with veggies & toast
Fruit, yoghurt and milk smoothie
Poached eggs, veggies and toast
Salmon, roast potatoes & veggies
Use this post as a guide to help you nourish your body post workout. This is a post meant for general advice and may not reflect your unique nutritional needs. If you would like further advice or consultations regarding a specific event contact me and I can help you or put you in touch with a specialised Sports Nutritionist.
Source: Burke and Deakin, Clinical Sports Nutrition, 3rd Edition, McGraw-Hill Australia Pty Ltd, 2006