You’ve just spent an hour sweating it out at the gym, but how do you make sure that our hard effort is put to good use?
Making sure that we refuel and recover correctly after we work out is essential to help promote muscle repair and growth, boost adaption from the training session, support our immune function and appropriately refuel and rehydrate our body. This is especially important for people who are completing two or more training sessions in one day, or in close succession.
When should I eat or drink after exercising?
Rehydrating should begin immediately after finishing training. Depending on when your next exercise session is dictates how soon you should replace foods where we should aim to choose foods rich in carbohydrates and proteins. Within the first 60 and 90 minutes after exercise is when the body works most effectively in replacing lost carbohydrate stores and promoting muscle repair and growth. For people who have multiple training sessions in soon after one another, recovery nutrition should begin in the first 60 minutes. Alternatively, for those who do not have another training session for a significant period of time, the next meal can act as recovery nutrition or recovery can be split into two parts; by having a small snack to kick start recovery, followed by using the next main meal to meet and maximise recovery goals.
What foods should I be eating after exercise?
It is important to highlight that everyone is different in the foods they like and knowing what sits well in their stomach before, during and after exercise. Nevertheless, foods in recovery (post-exercise) should aim to contain:
A good source of carbohydrates – this helps to replenish lost muscle fuel stores
Contain high bioavailable protein source (this means that the protein is well absorbed by the body)
Have a good source of fluid and electrolytes to maximise rehydrating.
lean chicken and salad roll
lean chicken or fish sushi roll
small tin of tuna on crackers + banana
spaghetti with lean beef Bolognese sauce
fresh fruit salad topped with soy yoghurt
vegetable burrito with beans and rice
tofu and vegetable stir fry with noodles
Fruit smoothie made with soy milk
Tofu rice paper rolls with vermicelli
What should I be drinking after working out?
Just like food, the best fluid to consume after exercise is dependent on your goals. For people wanting to simply rehydrate from the session then water and electrolyte drinks are preferential choices. However, if wanting to meet your carbohydrate goals, then sports drinks are also a helpful option as they help to rehydrate and refuel your body simultaneously. Smoothies, flavoured milk and other dairy based fluids are also beneficial for people wanting to consume carbohydrates, proteins and electrolytes all together. Protein powders and recovery shakes are beneficial in some circumstances, however for the majority of people, recovery can be achieved through regular food and drinks.
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