You've just spent an hour sweating it out at the gym, but how do you make sure that your hard effort is actually helping you gain muscle?
Making sure that you refuel and recover correctly after a work out is essential. Filling your body with the right food and drink can help promote muscle repair and growth, boost adaptions from the training session, support immune function and rehydrate the body. For people completing two or more sessions a day, or sessions in close succession this is even more important to improve recovery and reduce muscle fatigue.
Perfecting post-workout meal timing
Within the first 60 to 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 close succession, 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; having a small snack to kick start recovery, and then using the next main meal to meet and maximise recovery goals.
What foods should I be eating after exercise?
A good source of carbohydrates – this helps to replenish lost muscle fuel stores
A high bioavailable protein source (this means that the protein is well absorbed by the body)
A good source of fluid and electrolytes to maximise rehydrating.
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.