I can’t believe I waited so long to write this post! Back in March, I shared with you the importance of Pre-Workout Nutrition. Today, I am going to go over some things you should keep in mind when considering when & what to eat to refuel your body after your workout.
As with most fitness topics, depending on which health guru you talk to you will get varying answers as to when to consume your post workout “meal”. The general consensus I have found in all my magazine reading & Googling is that the ideal time or “window of opportunity” is within 30-45 minutes of completing your workout. However, newer studies are showing that the window is a little wider, around 2 hours pre/post workout, and that your daily intake of Carbs and Protein is more important than timing itself.
The bottom line is everyone is different. Our bodies all react differently to exercise & nutrition. This means unless you are a super athlete or a bodybuilder preparing for a competition the guidelines are a little more lax. So figure out what works best for you! I usually base my post workout “meal” on my schedule. If I know I am driving straight home after the gym to fix dinner, I usually don’t worry about packing anything to “eat” post workout. However, if the Hubby & I are heading to the store after our workout I will pack a shake or something to munch on before running errands.
What to “Eat”
If you have noticed, I have been sort of loose with the terms “eat” & “meal”. This is because you don’t have to eat to ingest nutrients. Protein shakes or smoothies are considered meals in my house and if that is the easiest way for you to re-fuel, go for it! However, there are a few key ingredients (macros) you will need to contemplate.
The first is Carbohydrates, they are needed to replace energy stores in your body that have been depleted due to your awesomeness that has just been expressed in the form of exercise. (Yuh like that, Huh?) How many Carbs you need will depend on they type of exercise you did & what your goals are, however a good rule of thumb is around 30% of your daily Carb intake. It is also a good idea to get in a mix of both simple (fast absorbing) & complex (slow absorbing) Carbs.
Secondly, your body needs Protein to build & repair muscles. Luckily the guidelines for Protein are a little more specific, but again, every body is different. Men should consume between 30-45 grams of Protein, While us Ladies need between 20-25 grams.
Smarter Not Harder
Finally, you should limit your Fat intake following a workout. The main reason it is suggest to make your post workout meal Fat Free is because fat slows the digestion process. Slow digestion means slow absorption, meaning it will take longer for Carbs & Protein to be available for your body to use. So while it is important to make sure you are including Healthy Fats in your diet, try to fit them in with your other meals to make sure your body has its best chance to refuel & recover.
One of my favorite combos is a Whey Protein Shake & Banana.
What are some of your favorite post workout “meals”?
Disclaimer: In case you missed it along the way, at the moment, the information I have compiled for you is simply the product of research & personal experience. Though I plan to get a Nutrition Certification & ultimately become a Kick Bottom Health/Wellness Coach… At the moment I have no such training. So make sure if you are planning on changing your diet/exercise routine that you talk to a professional to make sure you are doing what is best for your particular body.