What should you eat after a workout?
When it comes to working out, what happens in the gym is only half the battle. You may have heard the phrase ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ but in reality: your entire physique is built in the gym and revealed in the kitchen. What you eat before and after a workout is essential! In this article we’re going to give you all the information you need to create the perfect post-workout meal.
Protein is the main component of muscles, and so consuming high protein foods as soon as possible after a workout is ideal. This is because protein provides amino acids - the building blocks of protein - preventing muscle protein breakdown and initiating repair and growth.
Go for ‘complete’ protein sources: these are foods that contain all nine essential amino acids, and so are highly bioavailable. Here are some options:
● Whey protein
If you are vegan, here are some complete plant-based protein sources:
● Lentils and grains (when consumed together)
● Vegan protein powders or snacks
Aim to consume 30% of your total caloric intake from protein, which equates to around 60g, at a minimum, for the average person. This equates to at least 20g in each meal.
Consuming carbohydrates in your post-workout meal is essential. This is because carbohydrates replenish depleted glycogen. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source, and so when we exercise, stored glucose (glycogen) breaks down and is released into the bloodstream to energize us.
When we exercise intensely or for long periods of time, it can cause glycogen depletion, which can make you feel tired, impact performance, or delay recovery. Thus, consuming around 100g or more per day is recommended, with the majority consumed post-workout.
Ideally go for carbohydrate sources that are complex, rather than refined. Complex carbs provide slow releasing energy because they are naturally encased in their fibrous coating and so the glucose is released very slowly into the bloodstream, not causing an insulin spike.
That being said, consuming a small amount of simple sugars (refined carbs) post-workout can be effective in the case of intense exercise or if your goal is muscle building. This is because it will replenish glycogen quickly and trigger an anabolic spike of insulin.
Here are some carbohydrate options:
● Black or pinto beans
● Brown rice
● Whole grain bread
Fat is the least important macronutrient to focus on post-workout, but it is still vital to consume enough healthy fats throughout the day for general health. Fat supports cell growth and is necessary for proper nutrient absorption.
Aim to consume 15% of your total calories from fat, ideally omega-3, an anti-inflammatory. Here are some examples:
● Fish oil
● Fatty fish like salmon or mackerel
● MCT oil
● Peanut butter
● Coconut oil
● Nuts and seeds
Now you know that you need to be consistently consuming protein throughout the day for optimal muscle synthesis and repair. One of the best ways to do this is to consume healthy protein-rich snacks, like Pnuff.
Why is Pnuff the perfect post-workout snack?
● A complete plant-based protein source
● Low in sugar
● Combination of fast and slow digesting carbs
● High in fiber
● Sourced from clean and natural ingredients
When you eat a good post-workout meal, your body is able to replenish glycogen stores, reduce muscle protein breakdown, optimize recovery and increase muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth). Do this by focusing on protein and carbohydrates, like Pnuff Crunch - the perfect protein-filled post-workout snack.
- Dr. Juan Salinas
Dr. Juan is a PhD in Food Science and Certified Sports & Exercise Nutritionist who started his own Nutrition Snack Company (Perfect Life Nutrition LLC dba Pnuff) to create snacks that are truly nutritionally balanced for the mainstream active consumer. He created P-nuff Crunch, the first brand of Baked Peanut Puff Snacks that are truly delicious and nutritious. He lives in N.J. where he runs the operations of his company. When he is not working, you can find him training at the gym or participating on an outdoor sport. He enjoys creating innovative nutritious snacks and testing them on his own active routines. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @juanpnuff and @pnuffcrunch