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Refueling your body after a workout goes a long way in building and sustaining your physique. Here are five tips to help you maximize your post-workout nutrition.
1. Hydrate Yourself
Hydration is one of the most critical parts of your workout. It matters before and during your exercise and is essential to your recovery. The amount of liquid you should consume depends on different factors of your body. Water is typically the best drink to stay hydrated. You can find it for free at most gyms, and it’s easy to transport with you. There are some alternatives you can consider, though.
When choosing a drink post-workout, your goal is to replace electrolytes lost during exercise. If you want something besides water, look for a drink with a low amount of added sugar because it can make your drink high in calories. Sometimes a serving size is less than a whole bottle, so consider that also. Zero-sugar sports drinks are becoming popular, so they may be a viable alternative to water.
2. Eat Soon After Working Out
After completing a workout, it’s best to eat soon after. Try to eat a meal within two hours of your workout session. Your body needs to replenish the glycogen stores and start your muscle recovery. Eating a balanced meal will help that cause.
The amount of hunger after a workout will vary with the individual. If you feel little hunger, have a small snack that has protein. If you’re hungry enough for something more substantial, eat a meal that has a balance of protein, carbs, and fat. All three are part of your macronutrients, or “macros” for short. Keeping track of these nutrients is a good guide for your post-workout nutrition.
3. Focus on Macronutrients
Tracking macronutrients can be an excellent way to stay with fitness goals and better understand what you need to prioritize on your plate. In your post-workout meals, keep these three nutrients in mind when aiming for balanced, nutritious foods to eat:
- Protein: Working out damages the muscle fibers in your body, especially after a strength-training session. The body needs protein to repair these muscles and make them grow back stronger. Some of the best protein sources include lean meats like chicken and turkey. For vegetarians, tofu and various beans and nuts are excellent protein-packed foods.
- Carbs: Carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source, so be sure to eat these before and after a workout. A popular carb option is bread because it contains fiber and can help manage your blood sugar because of its low glycemic index (GI). Other useful carbs include fruits like berries. Pairing sources of proteins and carbs will make for a satiating post-workout meal.
- Fats: Fats are the third nutrient for macros. Some companies brand food as low in fat but replace the fat with sugar. Fat can be good for you and great for your macros. Look for foods that have unsaturated fat instead of saturated and trans fats. Unsaturated fats can help improve your cholesterol levels. Foods containing these nutritious fats include avocados, nuts, olives, fish, and more.
4. Use Protein Powder
Protein powder has become a popular way for people to get a protein boost during the day, especially after a workout. If you have limited time to eat after exercising, utilizing protein powder may be a great option. Blending it in a smoothie gives you limitless options on what to make for a nutritious and delicious meal you can make in just a few minutes and carry on the go. It’s also helpful if you want an easy-to-eat meal after a workout since a protein shake is all liquid.
Whey protein is a commonly used powder for people who like to use powders. This protein is a byproduct of the cheese-making process. When making cheese, producers will sometimes add enzymes to milk and separate the whey and casein proteins. You’ll find casein protein in cheese and whey protein, typically in powdered form.
5. Try Creatine Supplements
Another effective supplement you can implement in your nutrition plan is creatine monohydrate. The human body naturally contains creatine in your skeletal muscles and you can find it in meats like beef and seafood.
Creatine is responsible for making energy for your muscles so you can have effective workouts. Like whey protein, people use creatine powder in their smoothies. You can also find creatine in the form of a pill.
Build Your Body After Workouts
After working out, you likely feel a sense of accomplishment because your body releases dopamine. You may as well be on top of the world because you hit a new personal record or reached a milestone you previously thought you were unable to achieve.
The best way to reward yourself is with a nutritious meal after your workout. Eat soon after a workout and focus on a nutrient-packed meal. Ensure you get enough protein, fats, and carbohydrates to feel satiated until the next meal.