Refuel, Refresh and Recover Post-Workout
Eating after a workout is the first step towards helping your body heal from it. There are three main purposes of eating after a workout. First, food refuels your body; to refuel, be sure that your snack has carbs in it to give you energy for the rest of your day. Second, a post-workout meal/snack helps your muscles begin their recovery by supplying protein. Last, your body needs salt to replace all the stuff you sweated out during your workout. Additionally, if you drink a lot of water while working out (which you should!) salt can help to prevent hyponatremia, which happens when your body has too much water and not enough salt.
So, what are some good snacks to have after your workout? A smoothie is the perfect post-workout fuel because you can pack it with nutrient-dense veggies like spinach and fruits that contain natural sugar. Be sure to add a serving of yogurt or protein powder for the protein your body needs after an intense workout. Another version of a carb-and-protein-filled snack is an apple or banana smeared with nut butter, which provides a similar combination of good carbs and protein to replenish what you’ve burned off. Regular old raw nuts can be great for this purpose too, as they contain good fats, salt and protein.
Dairy products offer a lot of protein and there are plenty of low-calorie options. Go for a serving of dairy in the form of cheese, yogurt or milk after your workout to replenish muscle protein. If you have a sweet tooth, you’re in luck: one of the newest post-workout fuel trends is chocolate milk. Yep, that’s right. The carbohydrates found in chocolate milk give your muscles the stuff they need to keep metabolizing after a long run or grueling cycling class. Plus, an extra dose of calcium does the body good. If you want a little crunch, pair your milk serving with a high protein, whole grain cereal to get those carbohydrates in.
Whatever you chose to eat after you work out the important thing is that you eat something, and experts recommend that you do this 30-60 minutes following your workout, so as to replenish your body’s energy stores and repair muscle tissue. There’s nothing worse than feeling sluggish after a workout or having your body take longer than necessary to recover, so be sure to follow through on taking care of your body by offering it the most intense workout you can give it and then following up with a well-rounded post-workout meal.