Post Workout Nutrition to Maximize Your Results

Written by Liz Ushry, B.S. in Athletic Training, M.S. in Healthcare Administration, Certified Athletic Trainer, National Athletic Trainers Association

Nutrition is key when trying to build muscle and help your body recover after a great sweat. Most people know that you should consume some form of protein after their workout. Generally, people aren’t getting that protein in their body within the time frame where it can be beneficial. Carbohydrates are just as important as protein to your body when it comes to post workout nutrition. 

Carbs play a role in your body’s recovery. Unfortunately, carbs have a negative connotation in the average health conscious person. People think of breads, pasta, and cereal; basically all of the things that pack on the extra weight. When it comes to nutrition after a high intense exercise carbs can be good for you. 

Keep in mind that not every type of carbohydrate is good for your post workout meal. There are some foods that will hinder the results you’re looking for. In this read we will breakdown carbs and protein and how their consumption after exercise will help you reach your goals.

Carbohydrates when consumed are broken down to sugar or glucose in our bodies. When we begin to use energy our body uses that glucose as an energy source. Glycogen can be found in our liver and muscle in the human body. Insulin is released by our liver to regulate the glucose found in our bloodstreams. Carbs are known as our body’s main source for energy. 

Protein simply put is a substance that has amino acids. Amino acids are commonly known as the building blocks in our bodies when specifically referring to the structure of our muscles. While we exercise our body breaks down the muscle to use glycogen as an energy source. Our muscles’ protein may get broken down or damaged during exercise. Amino acids will help rebuild the damaged muscles. As you’re nearing the end of your workout your muscles feel fatigued. The lactic acid has built up in your muscles making them to feel fatigue and depleted. This is your body’s signal for needing assistance

Most people do not work out in the comfort of their home where you would have access to a kitchen. People workout in group settings or in a fitness center. You will need nutrients that are easily accessible and convenient. Most people lean towards something that is in shake form because you can get in into your body in less than forty five minutes. 

It is important to adhere to getting protein supplements or protein rich foods into our bodies within that time period. That time period of less than forty five minutes is also known as our anabolic window. That is the specific time frame where if we do not consume protein after our workout our muscles will have a harder time recovering or won’t have the necessary ingredients to build new muscle. Carbohydrates are also important after exercise but their anabolic window is not relevant to building muscle. Protein is ideal post workout but carbs are important for rebuilding our glycogen stores. 

If you are going to consume food as your post workout nutrition keep in mind a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein for your meal. That ratio will enhance your muscle protein rebuilding and replenishing your energy stores. Some examples of food options would be listed below: 

3 Carbs: 1 Protein:

-rice Cakes: cottage cheese

-fruits: Greek yogurt

-dark leafy greens: chicken or salmon

-quinoa: Tuna

If you are a fan of protein shakes after your workouts and waiting to consume your food be sure to adhere to your anabolic window for protein of within forty five minutes post exercise. Make a habit of consuming your carbs within 1-2 hours post workout to begin replenishing your energy stores. Exercise is a wonderful thing and has an endless amount of benefits. Be good to your body by maintaining your energy levels and constantly helping your muscles rebuild after your workouts. Remember healthy carbs are essential to replenishing your glycogen stores and protein, when consumed within your anabolic window, will help in muscle growth. You’re on the right path with adding exercise into your daily routine now turn it up with the proper placement of your nutrients. 

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