Post-workout means after a workout. Therefore, a post-workout meal suggests a meal consumption after the workout session. The post-workout meal is necessary concerning the recovery and building of muscles. The post-workout meal after hardcore training is essential because we drain a lot of energy.
The most suitable way to regain energy post-workout is to consume food that provides the proper nutrients. We need to get the drill of post-workout meals, when to have the food, at what time, how much consumption is required, and most importantly, what type of food we should consume depending on the workout we were performing.
1. Why is it Necessary To have a workout Meal
After performing an intense workout that may involve weight training or any other exercise session, our body consumes a lot of energy. Intense training may lead to muscle soreness or tearing. Someone who always tends to skip meals post-workout may feel low or drained.
So, to repair the muscle tissue, one needs to support the body with the right amount of nutrients after the workout. Having the required amount of macronutrients before, during, and primarily after a workout is the primary purpose of post-workout nutrition.
1.1) Why is Glycogen?
We exhaust a lot of energy when we perform hardcore or strenuous training, and our glycogen stores are not as much as they should be post-workout. Glycogen is a form of glucose or a stored state of glucose. Glycogen is essential for our body as it is the primary source of energy that our body stores in our liver and muscles.
Whenever we consume any food or fluids that contain carbohydrates(macronutrients), it helps our body form glycogen and glucose. Hence, consuming carbs after a workout improves glycogen storage in our body.
1.2) What is Muscle Protein Synthesis?
The building of new muscle protein is said to be muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein categorization includes contractile myofibrillar proteins and energy-producing mitochondrial proteins. The myofibrillar protein combination aids in changes in muscle mass following resistance training, whereas the mitochondrial protein synthesis aids in bearing regular exercise.
2. What is The Difference between Pre-Workout and Post-Workout?
Everyone has their workout routines. Some people prefer to perform the whole exercise session, beginning with warming up, stretching, main exercise session, and cooling down. Warming up and initial stretching is part of pre-workout exercise that helps our body to gain some energy before performing any workouts and also helps in enhancing endurance and strength so that the training lasts longer.
Post-workout, as the name suggests, involves activities such as cooling down and a second stretching course that one usually performs after a workout or intense training. Post-workout helps in building muscles, restoring nutrients, and maintaining fitness.
2.1) Pre Workout Nutrition
A pre-workout meal is essential because it provides the necessary fuel to perform the exercise proficiently. Starving or having no food before a workout leads to the burning of muscles and causes the loss of lean muscles. Eating before a workout session is necessary for our sports nutrition. A pre-workout meal is advisable two to three hours before the workout. Eating before working out boosts our metabolism and helps us burn more calories during training and the day.
Consulting a dietician could help achieve fitness goals and would provide help with maintaining a healthy diet or a balanced diet. A pre-workout meal should usually include food with high protein segments like whey protein, protein bar, protein powder, some wholesome carbs or carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Pre-workout meal examples with equal amounts of carbs and proteins are oatmeal mixed with fruits, nuts, and milk, apple along with nut butter, trail mix or snack mix of nuts, granola, dried fruits, brown rice, Greek yogurt, peanut butter with fruits or peanut butter with a sandwich, or in a sandwich.
One should include amino acids and sip a protein shake to gather muscle growth. One can also have other options, such as packaged liquids and whole foods, to understand how the body responds.
One can also consume pre-workout supplements like caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine. Pre-workout supplements also have side effects like headaches, water retention, and digestive issues.
2.2) Post Workout Nutrition?
Having a meal after intense training or any other kind of exercise helps to regain the lost nutrients that our body utilizes during the exercise. Our body causes damage to muscle mass by performing intense training, so having a meal after a workout is essential. The post-workout meal can be the same as the pre-workout meal.
A generous amount of carbs after a workout can help replenish glycogen stores that our body uses as energy during exercise. The American Council on Exercise suggests a 3:1 to 4:1 ( meaning 30 to 60 grams of carbs and 10 to 30 grams of protein or 40 to 80 grams of carbs and 10 to 20 grams of protein) ratio of carbs to protein after a workout.
Eating carbs and having protein shortly after exercise can beneficially aid in muscle recovery, reduce muscle protein breakdown, increase muscle protein synthesis or growth, and restore muscle stores.
3. Benefits of A Post Workout Meal
Eating food after post-workout has an ample number of benefits. Choosing the right foods to eat after an exercise session can not only help in the recovery process but also help you achieve those extra fitness goals.
Some of the usefulness of all the nutrients are as follows
3.1) Assist in Building Muscles
Consuming protein in the span anabolic window, which describes the duration after the workout( usually 30 to 40 minutes), is advantageous because it is suggested as the prime time for muscle repair and also to build muscle.
During an investigation, some members had 20 grams of protein, whereas others got 20 grams of dextrose one hour earlier and after working out. After this analysis, researchers discovered that the total body, fat-free, and thigh mass stood enormously higher in the members who consumed protein than those who ingested dextrose.
3.2) Replenish Muscle Glycogen
With regards to any workout, whether intense training or cardio, glycogen is vital. During an exercise or training process, our body’s glycogen store level dips by 80%, and without glycogen, our energy levels also plunge.
When we work out, we lose water and electrolytes through sweating. A meal after a workout can help replenish fluids. When we work out, we lose water and electrolytes through sweating. A meal after a workout can help replenish fluids.
Hydrating ourselves after working out helps to control body temperature, prohibit infections, transfer nutrients to cells, keep organs functioning, improve sleep, diminish brain fog, and lessen mood swings.
4. Post-Workout Meal
Planning meal ideas post-work is not that much of a complex issue. One should know what is required and what to consume or drink after the workout. Usually, after working out, we should have well-balanced meals consisting of lean proteins, fluids, meals or snacks low in fat and fiber, and a large amount of carbs to make sure the muscles utilize carbohydrates quickly during exercise.
Consuming the right portion of carbs and proteins is essential because it helps to recover muscles and boosts our performance during the next workout.
Post-workout nutrition can differ based on training. For endurance training, carbohydrates, hydration, and electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium are essential to concentrate on. Whereas for resistance training, protein is the most vital component.
4.1) Protein Intake For Post-Workout Recovery
Having protein directly after a workout session aids in boosting glycogen synthesis. From being professional athletes to someone who hits the gym daily, 20 grams of protein is a must after working out. Studies suggest that having 0.1 to 0.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily enhances one’s capacity to recover after working out.
4.1.1) Sources of Protein
- Whey protein
- Plant and animal-based protein powder
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Grilled Chicken and eggs
- Protein bar
Performing exercise for hours utilizes our glycogen store and leads to exhaustion. Therefore, carb intake during the anabolic window(30 minutes after a workout) helps glycogen resynthesis. Research suggests consuming 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight to achieve the proper nutrients.
4.2.1) Sources of Carbohydrates
- Sweet potatoes
- Fruits (watermelon, berries, banana, and kiwi)
- whole grain bread
- Brown rice or white rice
- Peanut butter along with banana sandwich
4.3) Post Workout Drinks
We lose fluids post-workout, so to help ourselves with recovery and refueling, we need to keep hydrating to maintain our energy levels. Sipping water could help after mild training, but for intense workouts, one should consider alternatives such as milk, smoothies, and beverages containing electrolytes.
Beverages with sodium content in them help in faster rehydration.
However, if you are someone for whom sports drinks are heavier, consider having coconut water. Coconut water has almost the same ability to rehydrate as any other sports drink.
4.4) Healthy Fats
Working out will not necessarily deplete the fat storage, but consuming a small portion of fats after a workout benefits anti-inflammatory properties that help in recovery. While consuming fats, one needs to control portions, and overindulgence could have side effects.
4.4.1) One should consider unsaturated fats for after-workout snacks like
- Nut butter
- Trail mix(granola, dried fruits and nuts)
- Olives and Olive oils
4.5) Post Workout Supplements
Post-workout supplements aid in recovery and growth after exercise. Post-workout supplements are advisable after 30 to 40 minutes of training when the requirement for nutrition absorption is high. The supplements help to increase muscle synthesis, which relieves our pain and permits us to continue training.
4.5.1) Some of the examples of Supplements are
- BCAAs(Branched-chain amino acids)
- Casein protein
5. When to have a Post-Workout Meal
People usually prefer proper timing to consume food after working out to obtain nutrients from whole foods. The accurate time to have a meal is equally important as the meal itself. Sports nutrition investigators have been exploring the concept of nutrient timing for more than 40 years now.
Nutrient timing typically refers to having food at definite timings to achieve favorable fitness goals. It plays a vital role in muscle growth, fat loss, and sports performance.
One should always consult a doctor before having any specific diet before or after working out. If you are allergic to some food items, it can upset your stomach or feelings throughout the day. Problems like lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivity might occur, and one should avoid dairy products and gluten-containing foods.