What you eat after working out is as important as the actual training. When you exercise, your body uses stored glucose called glycogen, which depletes energy. Your muscles also tear especially if you’re doing resistance or strength training. As a result, you get exhausted and sore.
But by eating the right foods, you can recover and feel better several hours after an intense workout session. Moreover, eating right gives shape to your efforts at the gym — that is, it helps you see better results on your physique and health.
To guide you, here’s what you should know about post-workout nutrition:
What to eat after exercising
“Two cardinal rules to help replenish the body after a workout is to eat protein and pair it with complex carbohydrates,” said Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a registered dietitian.
Protein helps the body rebuild the muscles and reduce soreness and risk of injury. And when your muscles undergo repair, you get stronger. Thus, protein is important in order to gain any physical benefits from working out.
To complement proteins, experts specify complex carbohydrates — not just simple carbohydrates which can also be found in unhealthy foods. Complex carbohydrates have multiple sugar molecules called saccharides. And unlike simple carbohydrates, they offer multiple vitamins, minerals and fiber that are vital to health. Furthermore, complex carbohydrates restore energy levels by refueling the body and refilling depleted glycogen.
Meanwhile, your energy levels are not the only ones that get depleted by working out. You also lose water, sodium and other electrolytes. Thus, it’s equally important to hydrate.
People who sweat a lot during exercise are especially prone to dehydration and muscle cramps. To avoid unwanted effects, experts said that having a post-workout snack is important.
Beckerman recommended eating celery, beets and chicken breast, as well as potassium-rich foods like watermelon, cantaloupe and avocado. Potassium is an electrolyte that is important for muscle contraction. When you have low levels of potassium, you can experience muscle cramps, weakness and irregular heartbeat.
Another registered dietitian, Keri Glassman, sums it up, “A post-workout snack should ideally consist of water to properly maintain energy levels and electrolyte balance, protein for muscle recovery and carbohydrates to replenish energy stores.”
What not to eat after exercise
Experts said that sugary and processed foods should be avoided.
Your post-workout state needs replenishment. But fueling it with unhealthy foods undermines your efforts. That’s because the body burns through complex carbs and then fat. When you drink sugary drinks or snacks, the fat burning process slows down.
While candies are obvious enough, certain smoothies, juices and protein bars hide unhealthy sugar content. Protein bars, for example, are loaded with sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup and refined sugar. When hydrating, experts also caution against soda and sports drinks. Both drinks are high in sugar while soda can make you feel bloated. (Related: The Dangers of Sugar and the Importance of Healthy Sugar Substitutes.)
Foods that are tough on the digestive system should also be avoided. This includes spicy foods and even protein-rich foods such as steak. The post-workout body is in a state of repair after going through a strenuous exercise. Thus, it needs foods that are easy to digest.
Keep in mind that working out requires a great deal of your effort. By eating the right food, you can better ensure that your hard work will not go to waste and instead lead to your desired results.
Learn more about the best foods to eat after working out at Slender.news.