Posted on 03/15/2018
Food and drink are essential to recovery after a good workout. And no matter what time of day you exercise, the key is to follow up with meals that combine protein, which helps your muscles recover and carbohydrates, which replenish energy stores.
For best results, eat within 30 to 60 minutes after exercise, when muscles are most receptive. During this window, an increase in enzyme activity makes the body more efficient at storing glucose for energy and building protein in fatigued muscles.
The most essential thing to do post workout is re-hydrate with water. Check the color of your urine. If it is dark, you are dehydrated and need to drink more; if it is light yellow or clear then you are getting enough fluids through your body. Drink three cups of water to every pound of body weight that you lost while active – you usually lose a pound or two in every tough workout.
Research has shown that chocolate milk is a great post workout choice, even over water and sports drinks. It has everything you need in one glass: carbs and protein for muscle recovery, water content to replace the fluids lost as sweat and calcium, sodium and sugar. This combination of macronutrients and vitamins help you recover faster, retain water and regain energy.
Eggs have the protein part covered. In fact, eggs are the most bioavailable source of protein there is. This means that our bodies absorb this protein better than any other type of protein. At just 70 calories each, eggs pack 6.3 grams of protein and are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
Quinoa is one of the only vegetarian foods that contain complete proteins. It is a healthy source of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. Compared to brown rice it contains far more protein and fiber and takes far less time to prepare too!
Dairy proteins are especially helpful for maintaining lean muscle mass and speeding up weight loss. Dairy also contains a healthy dose of calcium, sodium and sugar. Kefir, a fermented milk drink made from probiotic bacteria and Greek yogurt have been growing in popularity and rightfully so. Both contain an extra boost of protein with about 11 to 14 grams of protein per serving making them ideal post workout choices.
Made from chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed paste), hummus contains both protein and carbs and the slow-release carbs from vegetables will keep energy levels up after a tough workout.
Although protein needs of both endurance and power athletes are greater than that of non-athletes; they’re not as high as commonly perceived. While protein is critical in building muscle mass, more is not necessarily better. Eating large amounts of lean protein will not equate with a toned body. Most athletes can get the recommended amount of protein through diet alone, without the use of supplements. Protein powders and protein supplements are great for convenience, but are not necessary, even for elite athletic performance. Whole foods are always best, but with a busy athlete trying to juggle a million things, it can be a little more realistic to drink a shake, rather than make a meal. But, when someone has more time and motivation to plan, then the focus can be on more whole foods.
Looking for other foods that will help maximize your workout? Look no further than the meal options from Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating. Our meals contain the right amount of protein and provide healthy carbs, ideal for your workout routine. Try out a vegetarian or traditional meal plan from Seattle Sutton, today!
Grew up in the food industry and took that love of healthy eating to earn her degree in nutrition. She has worked as a registered dietitian for 6 years and has been with SSHE since 2013, providing nutrition analysis and meal planning. Her special interests in weight management and diabetes, helps patients manage their weight and health conditions. She enjoys an active lifestyle, as well as time in the kitchen. Rene’s favorite SSHE meal is the Thai Noodle Salad.