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Post-Workout Nutrition Tips from a Nutrition Coach

By: Jen Elliott

 

What do I eat after workout? Do I have to eat something, even if I’m not hungry? How long can I wait before I need to eat after a workout?

As a wellness coach and group fitness instructor, I receive a host of different questions around post-workout nutrition. The basic answer is a post-workout meal or snack should be a top priority in your workout program. When working out, doing awesome videos you can find right here on the Booya site, you are using your body’s energy stores. The body stores energy in the form of glycogen, for use during a workout. While the end result of a resistance training program will be stronger and hopefully larger muscles, the process of lifting weights is actually tearing your muscles.

Incorporating post-workout nutrition will help replenish those depleted glycogen stores and assist in muscle building. Fueling post workout can also aid in recovery and help ease muscle soreness. If you want to see optimal results from all your hard work, you need to eat a post workout meal or snack. Lack of nutrition can halt progress or even cause a plateau.

WHAT SHOULD I EAT?

The two macro nutrients to focus on for post-workout nutrition are quick digesting carbohydrates and protein  The carbohydrates will aid in replenishing energy stores and protein will support muscle repair and growth. While I am a huge proponent of consuming healthy fats, this macronutrient tends to slow the digestion process and the absorption of carbs and protein.

As a guideline, opt for a 2:1 carb to protein ratio if completing at least a 20-30 minute higher intensity interval or cardio focused workout. Some sample snacks could include: banana, date, roasted sweet potato or brown rice cake with nut butter, a glass of chocolate almond milk, or dried fruit and jerky,

For a strength training or metabolic conditioning workout, I like to increase my protein intake to a 2:2 ratio to help with muscle building. Some sample snack ideas include: vegan protein smoothie with frozen fruit, loaded scrambled eggs with a banana, chicken breast with nut butter, a roasted sweet potato or squash.

If you are completing a yoga session or light walk, where you are not working up much of a sweat, a small snack will suffice, rather than a larger meal.

WHAT IF I’M NOT HUNGRY?

My usual answer to this is ‘don’t care, eat something anyway.’ Personally, I can’t eat within 30 minutes or so of a workout, and I tend to better with liquid. In order to reap the full benefits of your snack or meal, eat (or drink) within 2 hours of working out, even if you are not hungry. Your body is primed and ready to accept nutrients best, within that 2-hour time frame.

If solid food is not appetizing or you are just not hungry, my best recommendation is a protein smoothie or a smaller snack consisting of a quick digesting carb and protein, like a banana with some nut butter.

As a bonus, incorporate an anti-inflammatory food into your snack or meal, like beets or turmeric to help ease muscle soreness!

 

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