When working with clients who want to see real results from their workouts most ask me what nutrition they should have before a workout. While that is important, it is more important to focus on what we consume after a workout for maximum fitness and muscle gains.
What we consume after a workout not only helps with replenishing vital nutrients for your body, but it also helps to flush out toxins and repair stressed muscles, thus speeding our recover and preparing us for the next workout..
So, what should you eat and drink after a workout for the best results?
Well, this is different for everyone. It depends on your metabolic type, as well as the type of workout you do. HITT and Tabata training vs. long-distance running, weight lifting, etc. all have very different nutritional needs. “A good general rule to follow is that the higher the intensity, the more protein your body will require, since you use more muscle fibers with higher intensity workouts, and protein is the building block of muscle tissue.” 1
Tips for post-exercise nutrition
The first thing-hydrate with water.
Following a workout re-hydrate with 1 or 2 glasses of water. This will help flush out the toxic lactic acid that has built up in your muscles. For a longer workout or run I suggest replenishing with coconut water as it is full of potassium and electrolytes along with the hydration benefits.
- 30-45 minutes is the optimal time period to replenish your body with nutrients
Smoothies and shakes with a balance of lean protein, low glycemic carbs and good fats are easily assimilated by the body. Many athletes think that their bodies just need protein but in actuality, you should have approximately a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to proteins for your post-workout shakes or smoothies. Carbohydrates replenish the glycogen stores (energy) to your muscles, and they aid in the transport and absorption of proteins into the muscles
Without carbohydrates your body will not absorb the protein.
NOTE: If you have just had a really intense muscle building workout or if maximum fat loss is your goal than I would suggest a 1:1 ratio of protein and carbohydratess.
Conversely, if you are doing 90 minutes or more of cardiovascular exercise you will need to increase your post-workout calories, as well as your carb ratio. Current research is proving that a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio has shown the greatest recovery results in research of long distance runners. You could split the calories up with a 4:1 smoothie within 30 minutes of your 90 plus minute cardio workout and then have a balance whole food meal with the 2 hours following.
- Research the products that you take following a workout. Look for products that use higher (pharmaceutical) standards of manufacturing.
Many products sold in stores these days have very low quality protein, which are not effectively absorbed by the body. Therefore we have to do our own research to find products that use higher standards for manufacturing and production, as well as the highest quality ingredients. If you haven’t tried it yet try Nutrimeal™Free, a plant-based meal replacement shake that is fructose, soy, dairy, and gluten free as well as vegetarian friendly.
All in all, remember that post-exercise nutrition is as important as, if not more than, pre-exercise nutrition.
Thank you for the information by *Sergio Rojas who has over 17 years of experience as a fitness professional and nutritionist.