There is so much talk about what you should eat before or after a workout. The truth is as long as you get the right amount of calories throughout the day and you eat balanced meals (balanced carbohydrates and protein), you need not worry much about what and when you should eat. A lot of guys in the gym panic right after working out, because they were led to believe they have to gulp their whey protein. There’s no need to panic!
You don’t need to rush to have something to eat right after working out. Your muscles don’t demand a sudden influx of protein right after workout. In fact, protein synthesis is elevated for more than 24 hours after lifting weights, contrary to the popular bro-science that there’s this 45-minute “window of opportunity.”
Eat appropriate servings of carbs and protein!
Much of what you eat after strength training is the main source of energy. Carbohydrates are an important part of a balanced meal. For exercisers, they replenish used up glycogen during workouts. But don’t choose just any type of carbohydrate. Complex carbohydrates are ideal because they don’t break down as easily as simple sugars. Get your carbohydrates from whole grains, oatmeal, and even vegetables. Refined carbs and processed foods are a no-no.
While many fitness buffs advocate high-protein diet for people who want to build muscle, there is something missing in the equation if the only thing you eat is protein. Nevertheless, protein is just as essential as carbs.
While the role of carbohydrates is to replenish glycogen lost to working out, protein’s crucial role in muscle rebuilding cannot be ignored. So while an all-protein post-workout nutrition is wrong, it’s equally disastrous to not include it in any of your meals. People building muscle should eat a gram of protein for every pound of target weight. So if your target weight is 132 pounds, you should eat 136 grams of protein a day, spread out over your meals throughout the day. To save you from the hassle of estimating and weighing the amount of meat or fish you eat per meal, here’s a quick hack: the right amount of meat or fish or protein source is the same as the size of your palm. That’s roughly a quarter of your plate!
It’s important that you get protein from good sources–fish, chicken (without the skin), eggs, and red meat. You can also get protein from nuts and legumes.
Although you’re post-workout meal gives your body fuel for your succeeding activities, don’t forget that it’s not only your muscles you’re nourishing with your meal. A balance of macro and micronutrients should be achieved. Thus, vegetables and fruits should be served to provide vitamins and minerals. Also, a small amount of good fat is not bad. Your body needs fat to manufacture hormones. Hopefully, you get fat from good sources–nuts, fish oil, or avocado.
Replenishing lost water after workout
Drinking water is just as important as eating after a workout. You lose about one quart of water to moderate exercise. Drink 2 glasses of water right after hitting the weights or doing cardio. Consider sugar-free sports drinks if you’re working out outdoors (e.g. running, outdoor calisthenics, etc.) to replace lost electrolytes.
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