I love the saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen.” If we work out hard in the gym, why wouldn’t we want to work out hard in the kitchen? What we feed our bodies after a workout is crucial to revealing our muscles, increasing recovery time, allowing us to push ourselves even harder the next day at the gym, and preventing injuries! Whether you’re an athlete, body builder, runner, yogi, or a fitness class lover, the information listed below is designed to help you become the best YOU possible.
Post Workout 101:
3 words: 30 minute rule. Make this rule your number one priority immediately following a workout. 30 minutes is the maximum time frame in which our bodies are able to recover most efficiently. Our cells are screaming for fuel to replace nutrients lost during exercise.
1. Carbohydrates. Carbs are the body’s preferred energy source, especially after we workout. Consuming carbs after a sweat session is essential to increasing blood flow and repairing muscle.
2. Protein. Protein helps to reduce muscle breakdown and promote new muscle growth. 20-25g is optimal. This is because humans can’t absorb more than 25g of protein at one time.
3. Electrolytes and minerals. If you’re a heavy sweater, exercising for over an hour, or training for sports performance, it’s important to replace electrolytes and minerals lost. Electrolytes and minerals (Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, & Sodium) help muscles to contract, minimizing cramping.
Chocolate milk is the recovery drink of choice for Olympians, and is perfect for fueling up after any workout. Chocolate milk has the perfect recovery ratio of 3:1. A ratio of 3 grams of carbohydrates to 1 gram of protein is the best for increasing blood flow, repairing, and promoting muscle growth. Milk also has naturally occurring electrolytes to replace what was lost while sweating, it’s quickly absorbed in the body, and is the most cost effective fuel source.
If you’re not a chocolate milk fan, choosing foods rich in Leucine (a nutrient important to muscle growth) is also an option. Egg whites, brown rice, nuts, and soy protein are excellent sources. Combine the brown rice with any of the other protein options listed for a great carbohydrate to protein ratio.
Beyond the Kitchen:
Our bodies are in key recovery mode immediately after a workout, but we are still recovering even 24-48 hours following a secession. Small, frequent meals of 10-25g of protein (depending on body size, and type of exercise routine) is optimal for continuous muscle growth and repair. It’s also key to spread out protein intake since we aren’t able to absorb a large quantity at one time. Below are a few of my workout refueling options for in between meals.
- Low fat cheese stick
- Smoothie made with Greek yogurt, frozen spinach, and frozen fruit
- Nut butter
- Hard Boiled egg
Fuel your body properly post workout, and the rest will take care of itself.