After spending hours exercising, it is crucial to fuel your muscles with right nutrition. A healthy post-workout meal helps prevent fatigue and allows your body to recover. By consuming particular nutrients after your workouts (aka post-workout nutrition), you improve your body composition, performance, and overall recovery.
# Drink water
After exercising, it is important to make up for the loss of fluids. During a workout, you lose water in form of sweat. Not drinking enough water can leave you dehydrated. It is important to make up for the loss of fluids. You should ensure the consumption of adequate amount of water consumption post-workout and also throughout the day.
# Prioritise protein
Protein is known as the building block of the human body. It is also crucial to supply your muscles and tissues with adequate amount of protein to repair well. Protein is essential in repairing muscles. Do not miss protein-rich sources like eggs, nuts or protein bars-shakes.
Foods rich in antioxidants can protect your body from free radical damage and support the recovery of muscles.
Good sources of specific antioxidants include:-
- allium sulphur compounds – leeks, onions and garlic
- anthocyanins – eggplant, grapes and berries
- beta-carotene – pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach and parsley
- catechins – red wine and tea
- copper – seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts
- cryptoxanthins – red capsicum, pumpkin and mangoes
- flavonoids – tea, green tea, citrus fruits, red wine, onion and apples
- indoles – cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
- isoflavonoids – soybeans, tofu, lentils, peas and milk
- lignans – sesame seeds, bran, whole grains and vegetables
- lutein – green, leafy vegetables like spinach, and corn
- lycopene – tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon
- manganese – seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts
- polyphenols – thyme and oregano
- selenium – seafood, offal, lean meat and whole grains
- vitamin A – liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, and egg yolks
- vitamin C – oranges, blackcurrants, kiwifruit, mangoes, broccoli, spinach, capsicum and strawberries
- vitamin E – vegetable oils (such as wheatgerm oil), avocados, nuts, seeds and whole grains
- zinc – seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts
- zoochemicals – red meat, offal and fish. Also derived from the plants that animals eat.
Your body uses glycogen as fuel during exercise. Consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them. Choose foods with carbs that are easy on your digestive system. Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important.
# Healthy fats
A small amount of healthy fats can also be a part of your post-workout meal. It will allow you to stay full for longer. You can choose avocados, nuts or chia seeds.
A post-workout meal with both protein and carbs will enhance glycogen storage and muscle protein synthesis. Consuming a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein) is a practical way to achieve this.
# Some foods to try
Scrambled eggs, oats with nuts/protein, banana with protein shake or quinoa with berries are some combinations you can try.
Avoid eating spicy foods, sugary drinks, processed energy bars, fried foods, caffeine and foods high in salt after working out.