By Martin Ebner
I'm sure you've heard the expression “You are what you eat” but did you know that when you eat can be equally important.
Post-workout nutrition is a hot topic and rightly so. Your post-workout feed is fundamental when trying to ascertain the best possible results from you workouts. What you chose to eat should reflect the intensity and type of workout that you do along with your fitness goals.
First of all is important to decide how tough your workouts are. A good way to do this is to grade them on a scale of 1-10. Ten would be close to death, 1 would be barely raising your heart rate above resting.
If it's a 5 or below, stop reading. Walking to the shops or cleaning the dishes don't merit a post-workout feed. If it's a 6 or above. High 5 yourself and let's get down to business.
Post-workout, our bodies deal with the nutrients we feed them differently. Some refer to the 2 hours following exercise as the “window of opportunity”.
During this window, your muscles are hungry and ready to accept nutrients that can stimulate muscle repair, muscle growth, and muscle strength.
This window opens immediately after your workout ends but unfortunately doesn't stay open for long. It’s vital that you get your post-workout nutrition immediately after finishing a workout and up to 2 hours following that. If you do this, your body will reap the benefits and thank you accordingly.
If you don’t provide adequate post-exercise nutrition fast enough you decrease the chance of getting the results you're working so hard to obtain.
What you're looking to achieve post workout:
To replenish energy stores lost through strenuous activity.
To increase muscle size and/or muscle quality
To repair any damage caused by the workout
Benefits of good post-workout nutrition:
Less muscle soreness
Improved immune function
Improved bone mass
Improved ability to utilize body fat
Now, i'm not telling you to go out and stuff your face with deep fried mars bars post-workout. However I will say this, it would be much less detrimental to your fitness goals to have a cheat meal post workout as appose to 5 minutes before hopping into bed. If you simply can't live without sweet food, make it work in your favour by combining them with a healthy serving of protein post-workout.
Nutrition for fat loss
When trying to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. Saying that, eating post-workout is so important when trying to keep your energy levels steady and your metabolism revved up. The biggest meal of the day should come within 1 hour of working out. Aim for a 2 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein. The carbs should come in the form of wholegrain products, sweet potatoes, Legumes, Fruit and veg and the protein should be a lean source.
Recipe idea: Sweet potato, lentil, rocket and Chicken breast salad.
- 100g chicken breast
- 100g sweet potato
- 75g lentils (Any kind will do)
- a handful of rocket
- 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Bake the chicken breast for 15-20 minutes in the oven with a splash of lemon juice and a sprinkling of dried basil and salt. Peel, chop and boil the sweet potato and lentils. Throw all of the ingredients into a bowl, toss and serve!
Nutritional information per salad: 306 calories, 35g protein, 41g carbs, 2g fat.
Nutrition for muscle gain
Lucky lucky you! Your post workout feed should be large and nutritious. Protein and a combination of fast and slow digesting carbs should be consumed post-workout. This will help replenish your muscles' depleted glycogen stores and keep you energized post workout. Aim for a 3 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein.
Recipe idea: Ebylife's muscle building shake.
- 1 tbsp flax seeds
- 1 tbsp maca
- 100g rolled oats
- 2 bananas
- 1 tbsp wheatgrass powder
- 1 cup of protein powder
- 5g creatine (Optional)
- 200ml skimmed milk
- 200ml water
Throw all of the ingredients into a blender, turn it on, serve and enjoy!
Nutritional information per shake: 965 calories, 48g protein, 130g carbs, 4g fat,
Nutrition for endurance
Skipping a solid post-run meal will almost most definitely lead to lethargy and/or sugar cravings later in the day. Aim for a 3 to 1 ratio of fast and slow absorbing carbs and protein immediately after you finish your workout. The fast absorbing carbs are quickly used to replenish the muscle glycogen that you burned during your workout. The slow absorbing carbs provide a steady release of energy helping to prevent against energy slumps in the hours following exercise.
Recipe idea: Beastly Beef, cherry tomato and broccoli stir fry.
- 200g lean beef
- 75g white rice
- 75 wholegrain rice
- 1 cup broccoli
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp of canola oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
Boil the wholegrain rice for 10 minutes, then add the white rice and boil together for a further 10 minutes. Heat up the canola oil in a non stick pan. Add the beef, broccoli and then cherry tomatoes. Stir fry for 4-5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and rice mix, reduce the heat and stir for a minute or two. Serve and enjoy!
Nutritional information: 895 calories, 125g carbs, 59g protein, 19g fat
When you have a specific fitness goal/s, It's as much about "when you eat" as it is "what you eat". Get your post-workout nutrition right and the results will come thick and fast. Get it wrong and you're making things very hard for yourself. Take the time, plan your meals, see the results!
Related article: pre-workout nutrition article.