After a workout I feel great physically, but i’m always hungry! Honestly I don’t know of anyone who isn’t hungry after a workout! Even if you’re not hungry after an intense workout session you should still reach for some food! While you’re running, walking, dancing , or whatever it is you like to do to keep yourself in shape; your body is using up energy. Simply put, the energy you need to endure physical activity comes from glycogen stored in the muscles…where does glycogen come from? FOOD (which is broken down into glucose). If you’re anything like me, you’re ready to reach for just about ANYTHING after a workout. BUT…what you eat after you workout is important to recovery and even performance in the future. In the words of Nancy Clark, “Refueling is apart of your training program”. Whether you’re exercising as apart of a team sport or just for leisure the ultimate goal is to make sure your body is the best it can possibly be for the next workout or just to feel great everyday in general.
So What Should You Eat Post-Workout?
If snacks aren’t your thing and you want a real meal…go for that! Just keep in mind the ratio. Some good sources of carbohydrate post workout are pasta, brown rice, sweet potatoes, corn, and don’t forget fruit! Some good protein sources include fish, lean meat, eggs, poultry, beans, and also soy! It’s really all about what you prefer. As for me, I love brown rice with salmon or tilapia. My brother on the other hand, after a game or workout, he’ll eat a giant bowl of pasta. At times i’m tempted to say that’s too much haha! But then I remember he is much bigger than I am and also spends hours a football practice. That being said, an individual who just goes to the gym for leisure will have different needs than an athlete who participates in daily physical activity. Along with being refueled your body needs to be rehydrated.
Hydration is already important without exercise. So with exercise, it is top priority! When you sweat you’re not only losing water but electrolytes too, and both of these need to be replaced. So drink plenty of water! it’s needed for many metabolic processes throughout the body and your overall recovery as it helps with cramping and soreness. Potassium and Sodium are two electrolytes that are lost during sweating. Although it may seem convenient to reach for a sports drink, the electrolytes found in sports drinks can be found in food sources. Bananas, Yogurt, Mango and Papaya are good sources of potassium. (Make yourself up a tropical fruit smoothie!) Sodium can be found in any commercially prepared food products pasta sauces, cereals,breads, just about anything. There’s often more than needed in these foods, so don’t over consume, as too much sodium can cause high blood pressure. Definitely want to avoid that, after all, the overarching goal of nutrition and fitness is to be healthy and avoid such chronic conditions.
Along with proper refueling and hydration you might want to consider a few of these tips:
- Go for foods that help boost Nitric Oxide levels. Nitric Oxide increases blood flow (this is particularly good post-workout when your muscles need the nutrients from blood). Some foods with NO include beets, kale, swiss chard, and spinach.
- Choose foods that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. This can help with the muscle soreness. Blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, fatty fish, olive oil, and nuts.
- Keep at it. Be consistent in working out and making healthy foods choices and you’ll start to see the benefits!