Do you get up early to workout only to find yourself beat before the day is over? You may be feeling beat because you aren’t eating the right foods or eating anything at all after working out in the morning.
Many people are still left confused as to whether or not they should eat after working out, especially if they are trying to lose weight. It is very natural to feel that you don’t want to add the calories back on after you’ve just burnt them off, however, eating after a workout is crucial.
If you read on, I will explain why eating after a workout is important, how soon after you should be eating and what you should be eating.
Why Is What You Eat After A Workout Important
Your body needs the energy during a workout to be able to get through it. To get this energy, it will use fuel. This fuel needs to be replaced after the workout so that your body can function and stay energized throughout the day. If you do not refuel then, your body will tire which is why you are feeling a lack of energy before the day is over.
If you are eating after a workout but still have no energy throughout the day, then you are probably eating the wrong foods. I will go into more detail on what foods you should be eating further on in the post.
When To Eat After A Workout
Eating after a workout doesn’t mean that you can workout at 7am and wait till lunch time to eat. There is a time bracket known as the ‘window of opportunity’ in which you should be eating after a workout to make sure your body recovers and that you stay energized throughout the day.
Fitness fanatics call it the ‘window of opportunity’ because it is the optimal time to eat as your muscles will be primed to accept maximum nutrients from the foods consumed. The ‘window of opportunity’ opens as soon as your workout is over and closes within two hours from that point.
Feeding your muscles and body the right food during this optimal time will make sure you stay energized and that your muscles fully recover and build.
What To Eat After A Workout
Now let me get to the main reason you’re here… what to eat after a workout. There are two main nutrients your body requires for your muscles to recover and build. These two nutrients are protein and carbohydrates which will both help increase your energy levels.
This doesn’t mean that you should only eat protein and carbohydrates after a workout, though. A balanced diet is always key to obtain a fit and healthy lifestyle that will keep you naturally energized throughout each day. Here are the foods you should be having after working out to stay energized:
The rule of thumb is to eat a meal or snack after a workout that has 50% of the calories that you burned off during the workout. For example, if you burned off 500 calories during your morning workout then you need to eat 250 calories within two hours after the workout.
Many people working out to lose weight tend not to eat after working out as they feel they are putting the calories back on they have just worked so hard to burn off. However, it is incredibly important to consume calories within two hours after a workout and will help lose weight if you stay within the recommended range of calories.
What you may be surprised at is that 60% of the calories that you should eat after a workout should be of carbohydrates. There are some diets out there that say to avoid carbohydrates altogether, but this isn’t healthy. You need carbohydrates after a workout to refuel your muscles and also to give you sustainable energy throughout the day.
How many carbohydrates you consume after a workout depends on the intensity of your workouts. It is recommended you have 30 to 40 grams of carbohydrates if you do a moderate workout and 50 to 60 grams of carbohydrates if you do a high-intensity workout.
While 60% of the calories you consume after a workout should be carbohydrates, 25% of the calories consumed should be of lean protein. High-quality protein is an essential nutrient for post workout snacks and meals as it will stop your body from breaking down the muscles for energy. As well as stopping the breakdown of muscles, protein will also work to repair muscles to help them repair and build.
For most people, the recommended amount of protein to consume should be between 10 to 15 grams. Many women believe that protein is mainly something bodybuilders consume during and after workouts however it is essential for everyone to consume even after cardio workouts.
Fat isn’t something that will help to repair your muscles after a workout and isn’t a nutrient that is essential however it is something that is found in most foods. It is recommended that no more than 15% of the calories consumed should be fat. Fat will work to slow down your digestion which isn’t something you want after a workout which is why no more than 15% of fats should be in your post workout snacks or meals.
Fat isn’t necessarily a bad thing as there are good fats and bad fats, however, there are more optimal times to eat good fats and after a workout isn’t one of them.
You don’t need me to tell you that sweating is all a part of working out. When you sweat, though, your body is losing essential electrolytes that are needed to regulate the fluid balance in your body. While many people know to drink plenty of water during and after a workout to hydrate, it is important also to consume electrolytes to regulate the fluid balance in your body.
Fruit and vegetables that have high water content such as strawberries, watermelon, tomatoes and cucumber will help to rehydrate your body. These foods will be a great addition to your post workout snacks and meals.
Whole Foods Or Sports Drinks/Bars
Now that you know what nutrients to have in your post workout meals and snacks that will repair your muscles and keep you energized throughout the day, it is time to determine whether whole foods or sports drinks/bars are best.
Energy drinks, energy bars and protein shakes are a common sight at gyms however they aren’t something that you should always have. While they have some benefits when consumed moderately, they contain chemicals which aren’t good for the body. It is always best to have whole foods rather than processed shakes, drinks or bars.
7 Post Workout Recipes
Consuming whole foods after your morning workouts does not mean that you have to cook constantly. There are snacks and meals you can make in advance and take with you to the gym if you’re planning on heading to work straight after. There are also plenty of meals and snack ideas that you can quickly put together in no time at all.
It is always best to have a prep day where you prep all of your post workout snacks and meals for the week. Here are 7 post workout recipes that will help to refuel your body and keep your energized throughout the day:
Remember when it comes to eating after workouts to eat within two hours after working out and make sure to eat protein and carbohydrates. Whole foods are preferred however it is ok to have an energy drink or bar here and there if you’re too busy to make anything. Just make sure you don’t rely on energy drinks to get essential nutrients and to have energy to the day.
Aside from solid food, liquid meals are also ideal because of its fast absorption profile. This is because they transport nutrients faster and help ensure that the right amount is present in time for the body to take them in.