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Congratulations are in order if you make a consistent effort to spend some quality time exercising. However, that’s just half the work done. Whether your workout goal is weight loss, muscle gain, or something advanced like training for a triathlon, diet is an essential part of it. Be it a vehicle or a body, they need their fuel; the body, in this case, needs it for building muscle and performing daily tasks. So, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that your fitness routine won’t be as effective without proper nutrition. All meals matter but the post-workout meal has a little more weightage because the body, especially muscle fibres, requires the proper nutrition. Consult certified nutritionists with FITFEAST for customized post workout diets.
You are likely to eat right after working out because hunger is only obvious after burning all those calories. Hunger is just a way of the body telling you to restore some calories for energy. More importantly, the muscle fibres that break during the workout need protein to rebuild.
There is something known as “nutrient timing”, which is the window in which you gain maximum benefit from food post-workout. Eating within 15 to 30 minutes after completing the workout has been the norm or the general advice imparted by experts. However, that depends on whether you had an empty stomach or had a small bite pre-workout. In case of morning workouts; when you have an empty stomach before a workout, it is important to eat within 30 minutes post-workout. For evening workouts, you can wait a little bit longer.
One of the most common and most obvious options out there mostly because of their nutrient value. You can get up to 18 grams of protein from 3 whole eggs, which is great after exercise. Having just egg whites is considered to be the smart choice because it doesn’t affect the cholesterol levels and is still one of the best sources of protein. However, whole eggs offer a 40% better muscle building response as compared to egg whites alone. The yolk contains healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals (iron and phosphorus) required by the muscles to process the protein found in egg whites properly. Therefore, it is even wiser to have fewer whole eggs and adding another source of protein instead of having too many egg whites. Make a meal out of them – mash some eggs, add some Greek yogurt and salt & pepper for flavour and have it with bread or crackers.
Packed with nutrients, especially carbs, sweet potatoes are a great post-workout food. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy that you expend while working out; they are also necessary for the body to break down proteins. Therefore, a crab-rich meal is great for pre-workout, while you need some carbs after the workout as well. Plant-based carbohydrates keep you energetic for the upcoming exercise session. Sweet potatos, for that matter, are superfoods packed with Vitamin A and carbs that help restore glycogen levels in the body. Plus, they are packed with fibre, which is good for digestion. A single sweet potato is enough for you to refuel yourself for a whole day.
When you want to have a nutrient-rich food, think of yogurt; 150 grams of yogurt fulfils up to 20 percent of your daily Vitamin D and calcium requirements. Moreover, yogurt contains protein and fibre in addition to leucine – amino acid – that is especially good for the muscles. Its carbohydrate contents restore energy in your muscles, protein helps repair them, and fibre boosts your metabolism. Add some cereal (also rich in protein and fibre) for some crunch and taste. You can also add some fresh fruit for a sumptuous meal after a good home workout.
Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce muscle soreness, especially after weight training. Fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines are the best sources of this essential fatty acid. The muscles cells witness inflammation after a hard workout and omega-3 reduces the pain caused due to it. Omega-3 is known to increase muscle protein synthesis. Fish are also a good source of protein, which makes them a great post-workout food. Have smoked salmon with whole grain wrap and cream cheese.
Green tea burns fat, revitalizes, and provides antioxidants that fight free radicals and metabolize fat. All in all, drinking green tea post-workout reduces muscle inflammation and soreness. Green tea is widely used to treat chronic inflammatory conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Chocolate milk is yet another great post-workout beverage that hydrates and restores nutrients in the body. Experts say that you should drink chocolate milk like a child after having done resistance training. It aids recovery with its carbs and protein contents in addition to restoring fluid levels in the body. According to researchers, it is even better than sports drink since it restores glycogen stores and is a great source of calcium and healthy fats.