What should we eat after working out?

Are you ready to begin now or are you looking to jump into action once the holidays have passed? Perhaps you’re a year round athlete and never took a break. Nevertheless, one question remains the same. “Once the workout is finished, what should I eat?

GASOLINE OR DIESEL ?

A great way to monitor your body is to think of it as a car. Regardless if you’re a Formula 1 driver or simply going for a sunday drive, at some point you’re going to need to refuel. But the wrong fuel can damage your fuel pump, injectors, pipes, filters, fuel tank and even the entire engine! In a sense, our bodies are no different.

There are many foods that are misleading in the sense that they are marketed as the ideal pre and post workout snacks. We’ve all seen the chocolate, fruit, and cereal protein bars found at the checkout counter in many of the stores that we visit on a regular basis. They are presented as high protein snacks that are often associated with fitness and healthy living. But in actuality, these bars are usually amassed with copious amounts of sugar! To make matters worse, they often contain several additives and their glycemic indices are off the charts! In short, they are an illusory health product and you’d be much better off reaching for a banana or an apple instead!

PROTEINS, YOUR FRAMEWORK

It’s not uncommon for some of our muscle fibers to break during workouts. This tends to occur far more with high intensity workout routines like strength training and CrossFit®. All in all, despite the damage, it’s important to ensure that optimal repairs take place while we rest and recover. Ideally, we should consume a high protein meal around 30 minutes after a workout but not more than 90 minutes after a workout. During digestion, these post-workout proteins will be cut into amino acids in order top help rebuild muscles tissue..

CARBOHYDRATES, YOUR FUEL

After an intense workout, your muscles will have exhausted their limited glycogen (sugar) stock.
If your goal is to lose weight, carbohydrates aren’t a necessary component of the post workout meal. Especially if they were a part of your pre-workout meal.
If your goal is performance, recharging your batteries is absolutely necessary! In such a case, do not neglect the importance of carbohydrates as they are vital for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an energy-rich compound as well as muscle reconstruction.

Often times, many websites have indicated that simple carbohydrates are a necessary to increase performance. However, they will lead to spikes in blood sugar and therefore insulin: the storage hormone. That said, it would be better to steer towards complex carbohydrates which gently raise blood sugar resulting in a low to moderate glycemic index.

SO WHAT DO I EAT ?

If there is a decent amount of time between a meal and your workout and the post-workout snack is a part of your regular routine, I suggest a delicious and healthy smoothie. Here are two of my favorites!

Here’s what you’ll need:

– a blender/mixer and the following ingredients:

Tropical Warrior (280 kcal, Carbohydrates 52g; Protein 15g; Fat 6g):

– 5 oz coconut milk,
– 100g 0% cottage cheese (or soy yogurt if you are lactose intolerant or vegan)
– 1/2 banana (not too ripe to lower the glycemic index)
– 30g oatmeal flakes,
– 70g of chopped mango
– Extract of vanilla or cinnamon.

Want even more protein? Feel free to add some whey or soy protein if you are lactose intolerant or vegan.

Green Detox (260 kcal, Carbohydrates 39g; Protein 9g; Fat 7g) :

– 5 oz of almond milk without added sugar
– 100g cucumber
– 1 kiwi
– 1 Lemon or Lime (Squeezed)
– Ginger (based on your preferences)
– 30g oatmeal flakes.

Want even more protein? Feel free to add spirulina powder for a 100% natural smoothie!

WHAT TO REMEMBER

If your workout session is just before a meal then the post-workout snack is unnecessary, regardless of your objectives.
If there is a decent amount of time between your workout session and your next meal; feel free to make a smoothie around 30 min to 1 hour after you’ve completed your routine. This is ideal for those seeking to increase performance, weight gain and/or strength training.
If your goal is weight loss rather than performance then it would be wise to avoid carbohydrates during your post-workout snack.

Don’t forget: Enjoy both your workout and what you decide to eat! Choose the right activities and the right ingredients!

See you soon!

Marie Giacchetti, nutrition and sports consultant.

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