The hard part is over. You’ve made it through another workout. You’re feeling good, feeling healthy, feeling fit, and feeling hungry. So now you may be asking yourself, ‘what should I eat after a workout?’
How you feed your body post-workout can have a major affect on your progress, whether you are aiming for weight loss, muscle gain, or maintenance. The proper nutrition can make or break your goals.
The two most important things to consume after a workout are protein and carbs. Let’s learn why.
During a workout, your body uses glycogen stores for fuel. Specifically, muscle glycogen stores are used exclusively to fuel muscular contractions during bursts of activity. This means that post-workout, your glycogen stores will be low and need to be refueled. This is where carbs come in. Because glycogen is the stored form of carbohydrates, a high-carb post-workout meal is important to refill muscle glycogen and energy stores.
Additionally, when your glycogen stores are extremely low, your body will take protein from your muscles and convert that into glucose to be used for fuel. Therefore, if you are not replenishing your glycogen stores after a hard workout, you may be causing muscle loss. So now’s your chance to eat all the yummy carbs right?
Does it matter what types of carbs you are choosing to consume? Short answer: yes. Long answer: there is evidence to prove that consuming simple, fast-digesting carbs is best after a workout. Simple carbs, such as the sugar found in those sweet, tasty treats that we all love so much, are fast digesting and will cause a quicker increase in your glycogen stores and a spike in your insulin level. The faster these carbs are absorbed, the faster your body can begin muscle protein synthesis.
Some examples of great post-workout carbs are: fruit, milk, pasta, and cereal.
Go ahead, indulge a little. But remember, balance is key.
When you are working out, whether you are performing cardio or weight training, your muscles begin to breakdown. It is this breakdown and then re-building process that increases your lean muscle mass, making your muscles larger and your body composition leaner. This is referred to as muscle protein synthesis.
Protein is the most important macronutrient needed to help fuel muscle protein synthesis and reduce muscle soreness and recovery time. More specifically, the amino acids that make up the protein are required for muscle protein synthesis. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and there are up to 20 amino acids in every protein source.
A complete protein contains all the essential amino acids (the ones that cannot be produced in the body and must be obtained through diet). Examples of complete proteins include, eggs, fish, poultry, cheese, and milk. In a vegetarian or vegan diet, it can be harder to find complete proteins because plant proteins typically offer less protein per measurement. However, it is possible to combine different plant proteins to improve the quality of protein overall. For example, our Bodylogix® Vegan Protein is a complete protein source and contains all 9 essential amino acids.
Post-workout, it is best to consume fast-digesting complete proteins to jump-start the muscle protein synthesis. If you are not able to consume a full meal post-workout a great option is to supplement with a Whey or Whey Isolate protein, both of which are fast-digesting and contain complete amino acid profiles. Check out our Bodylogix® Natural Whey and Bodylogix® Natural Isolate. Bodylogix® Natural Whey contains 24g of cold-pressed, cross-flow micro and ultra-filtered, undenatured whey proteins, sourced from grass-fed cows. With 100% of the protein from whey, and containing 25g of protein, Bodylogix® Natural Isolate, is the perfect post-workout recovery shake.
To help you make the perfect post-workout refuel, we have compiled a list of our best post-workout meals that include carbs and complete protein sources to make sure that you are getting the most out of every workout and recovering properly.