As you get started with your workout routine, one thing that you must make sure that you’re taking into consideration is your around-workout nutrition. The foods that you feed your body both before and after the workout are going to have a large influence on how you perform during that workout as well as how fast you recover after you’re finished.
Especially immediately following a workout session your body is going to be hungry for nourishment as you’ve just broken down a number of muscle tissues and now the body has the big job of repairing them and building them back up.
If you want to speed up the recovery process and be sure that you are able to generate as much lean muscle mass from that workout as possible, you absolutely must be assessing your post-workout nutrition.
Let’s take a good look right now at the most important things that you need to be doing during the post-workout period.
The Macronutrients Required
The very first thing that you need to understand is which of the three macronutrients, proteins, carbs, and fats, you should be eating after a workout session.
Some people get caught up in the thinking pattern that they should be avoiding food post-workout entirely as they firmly believe that this will help them enhance the fat burning that they experience.
This is a very improper thinking pattern so right away you should do away with that. You must eat post-workout – there’s no way around this.
In terms of what you must eat, focus on protein and carbs to the exclusion of dietary fats. Protein is what will supply the amino acids to the muscle cells, which are essentially like the building blocks in which new muscle is made up off.
Carbohydrates will be what fills the muscle cells with muscle glycogen, which is then the future fuel that will get you through your next workout session.
By pairing protein and carbohydrates together, you’ll get everything that you need for a quick recovery.
Fat is to be avoided post workout because fat will digest very slowly in the body and this is precisely what you don’t want. Since the goal is to get the nutrients into those muscle cells as quickly as possible, fat will delay the process, therefore really taking you away from your main mission.
Keep the food choices as low fat as possible and you’ll be all set.
The Meal Timing
Now it’s time to discuss meal timing. As just mentioned, the main goal post workout is to get those nutrients into the muscle cells as quickly as you possibly can. Your body is especially susceptible to taking up proteins and carbs immediately after a workout session because the muscle cells are a lot more sensitive at this point in time.
Many people often refer to this as the ‘window of opportunity’. Essentially, what you eat now will be immediately shuttled straight to the muscle tissues.
Wait too long to have that post-workout meal and you’ll miss this opportunity and delivery will take place much more slowly.
Generally speaking, immediately after the session is ideal, but if you’re someone who really wants to shower first or get home to prepare the meal, within 30 minutes will be sufficient.
Don’t wait any longer than this however or you’re going to be hindering progress.
Smart Food Options
Finally, now it’s time to consider which foods you should be eating.
In terms of protein, you want fast digesting sources. Whey isolate protein powder is top notch here because not only is it very convenient (you can mix it in seconds), but it digests at a remarkable speed.
If you aren’t a fan of protein powder for whatever reason, then other fat free sources of protein will work as well. Egg whites or white fish would be good choices, and very lean chicken breast would work also.
For the carbohydrate side of things, you could go with straight sugar-rich foods at this point since creating an insulin spike is actually going to help you out during this period of time (as it’ll force the nutrients into the muscles faster), but your better bet would be to combine some sugary carbs with some more complex carbs as this will prevent you from suffering a blood sugar crash.
So for example, you may have a whole wheat bagel with some strawberry jam. The jam will provide the sugar and the bagel will provide the more complex carbs. Or you might have some oatmeal with a sliced banana on top.
Pair together these carbohydrates with your protein and you’ll have the perfect post-workout meal that will enhance your recovery and make sure you see the best results possible from your workout session.
So there you have everything you need to know about what to eat before a workout. Make sure you aren’t missing out on this important part of the equation to success.