Post-workout meal: What to eat after a workout?

Whether you are a professional athlete or an amateur fitness enthusiast, providing the right nutrition to your body and having a post-workout meal is vital for enhancing your performance. 

You may put in a lot of effort during exercise, but just lifting weights, burning calories on the treadmill, or playing a sport won’t help you achieve your goals.

Unless you focus on your post-workout meal, all your hard work will be in vain.

This is particularly important because while most of us are careful about what we eat before exercising, we tend not to think too much about our post-workout food intake.

So, let’s begin with the basics.

Importance of post-workout meal

To understand this, we need to know the effects of physical activity on our bodies. During workouts, the muscles use up glycogen (the storage form of glucose).

Exercise also causes some of the muscle proteins to break down.

After the exercise session, the body begins to replenish the glycogen stores and the muscle proteins.

If you don’t provide the required nutrients, the body doesn’t recover well, and puts you at risk of even greater damage during the next session, causing fatigue soreness, and probable muscle loss.

Circling back to the main question: what should you consume post workout?

Water, proteins, and carbohydrates…in the right proportions!

Post-workout nutrition

  • Water: It might be the most understated post-workout requirement of the body and an extremely crucial one. You tend to lose a lot of fluids and electrolytes during workouts and training, leading to dehydration. Plain water, and sometimes electrolyte-containing drinks, are required to boost the recovery process. 
  • Proteins: They are important since they provide the necessary amino acids to repair and rebuild the muscle proteins. Amino acids are also the building blocks for new muscle tissues. You should consume around 0.3-0.5 grams of protein per kg of your body weight. People who are aiming to shed extra kilos can use protein bars for weight loss. 
  • Carbohydrates: They help restore the body’s glycogen stores. The amount of carbohydrates required depends on the type of activity you typically perform. Endurance sports/training require more carbohydrates after exercise than strength training. You should consume around 1.1-1.5 grams complex carbs per kg of body weight.
  • Fat: Fat is as important as other nutrients post-workout. A dairy product such as milk rich in fat can promote muscle growth. Keep in mind every nutrient, including fat, is important for a healthy lifestyle and post-workout nutrition. One study found that muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected after high-fat meal consumption.

Note: Consuming protein and carbs in the ratio of 1:3 (Example: 50 grams of protein to 150 grams of carbs) at the same time post workouts can increase protein and glycogen synthesis 

Post-workout meal: What to eat after a workout for weight loss?

Food is as important as exercise when it comes to weight loss. So, it is critical to ensure that you plan a balanced and effective post workout meal for weight loss.

Some examples of a healthy post workout meal include:

  • Low-fat smoothie (with fruits and low-fat milk) 
  • Low-fat yogurt/hung curd with berries 
  • Whole grain paneer/chicken wrap with veggies 
  • Steamed fish with mixed salad 
  • Energy bars with no sugar or sugar-equivalent

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Post workout protein bar

We need to supplement our body with the right amount of protein. People opt for supplements like whey protein and protein bars to meet their protein requirements.

Personally, I use protein bars made with only natural ingredients without artificial sweeteners and colors.

It is really a tedious task to find the right protein bars made with only natural ingredients.

Luckily, I discovered a good brand that is known to make the best protein bars made with only natural ingredients.

F’!T Nutrition Bars have been made with ingredients such as almonds, chia seeds, goji berries, oats, raisins, etc., and have no artificial sweeteners or colors.

Post workout protein bar

The bars contain the right balance of nutrients to keep you well-prepped post-workout. They also suit the Indian lifestyle, and palate, making it a great post-workout snackable.

Their bars come in different flavors, namely chocolate, berry blast, and “nuts & seeds”. And, you get 10g of protein per bar.

I liked all their flavours but my favourite one is their chocolate one 🙂

What is the right time to consume meal post workout?

It is crucial to provide your body with enough nutrition post workout. Our body ability to rebuild muscles increases post workout.

So, proving your body with enough amount of protein and carbs can help you grow your muscles effectively.

When to have post workout meal?

Some people prefer having post workout meal within 30 minutes after excercise. There is no fast and hard rule for this.

Everybody is different and the timing may vary from person to person. In general, having a post-workout meal within 45 minutes after exercise is good as per experts.

Keep in mind, the timing can also vary based on your pre-workout meal. Your post-workout meal duration can extend or reduce based on the type of pre-workout meal you had.

Final thoughts

Finally, the timing of food intake is also important. Try and consume the post-workout meal/snacks within an hour of the workout.

Loop in a trusted trainer and dietitian to help you stay on track if you need the extra guidance and motivation.

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