No matter how long your workout is, eating a proper meal afterward is important. Many say that the body is a temple, yet not too many treat it as such. The key to optimizing each and every workout is to eat a proper meal to help the body recover from strenuous exercise. Make sure the flab is really being fought with the following munching rules.
The 60-minute rule
After a grueling workout, try your best to eat a “recovery” meal no later than 60 minutes after finishing. The sooner you do this, the better. Exercise puts stress on your muscles, joints and bones, and the body uses up nutrients that need replenishment ASAP. Without properly refueling after exercise, the results you’ve worked so hard for will be delayed. It can cause excessive fatigue that could effect your next workout, increasing chances of injury.
Think beyond protein
It’s a fact that protein is a building block for muscles, but an ideal recovery meal should have good fats (needed for muscle and joint recovery) as well as protein. You can kick it up a notch and throw in some starch such as quinoa or sweet potatoes to replenish depleted nutrients and boost post-exercise metabolism.
You are what you eat
The human body is a wonderland that perpetually repairs, heals, and rebuilds itself, and the health of your new cells are determined by what you eat. So even if you are burning a lot of calories, that doesn’t justify two double cheeseburgers and a large order of fries. Opt for cleaner, nutrient-rich foods that help boost cell function which in extension, lessen the chances of premature aging, injury and disease.
Moderate is the new overcompensate
It’s important to not overestimate how much extra food you “earned” from working out, especially if weight loss is one of your goals. Let’s say you burn 500 calories, you mustn’t fall into believing that you can have an extra treat or pay less attention to your fruit portions. This can easily snowball and before you know it, you ate more than you’ve burned off. If you plan on having a meal after working out, put your hands up and step away from the protein bar.
If your workouts last longer than 60 minutes, you might need a sports drink as opposed to plain water. These beverages are designed to hydrate while also providing the body with electrolytes (such as potassium for regulating heart rhythm) lost from sweating. For shorter, less-strenuous and climate-controlled workouts, regular drinking water should suffice.
A general rule of thumb is to drink two cups, two hours prior to exercising, and half a cup every 15 minutes during your workouts. Aim for two (16 ounces) cups of water for every pound of body weight lost and don't forget to monitor the color of your urine. If you are well-hydrated, the color should be pale.
Limit alcohol intake
Alcohol in moderation is fine but before hitting the bars, make sure to eat first as to kickstart the recovery process. Also, be mindful that alcohol intake has been shown to accelerate post-exercise muscle loss by up to 40%. It also potentially interferes with glycogen replenishment. Glycogen is the body's "piggy banks" for storing energy. Low glycogen levels lead to a drop in energy or endurance for your next workout. Yikes!
With the following tips on how to properly eat after your workout, you can make use of each so you don’t have to live with the guilt of rumbling tummies. If you’re looking for more nutritional information or have any questions, feel free to contact our experts.