You put a lot of effort into your workouts, always looking to perform better and reach your goals.
Chances are you’ve given more thought to your pre-workout meal than your post-workout meal.
But consuming the right nutrients after you exercise is just as important as what you eat before.
Here is a detailed guide to optimal nutrition after workouts.
Eating After a Workout Is Important
To understand how the right foods can help you after exercise, it’s important to understand how your body is affected by physical activity.
When you’re working out, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Some of the proteins in your muscles also get broken down and damaged (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins.
Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.
Doing this helps your body:
- Decrease muscle protein breakdown.
- Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth).
- Restore glycogen stores.
- Enhance recovery.
BOTTOM LINE:Getting in the right nutrients after exercise can help you rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores. It also helps stimulate growth of new muscle.
Protein, Carbs and Fat
This section discusses how each macronutrient — protein, carbs and fat — is involved in your body’s post-workout recovery process.
Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle
As explained above, exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
The rate at which this happens depends on the exercise and your level of training, but even well-trained athletes experience muscle protein breakdown (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue (1Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
It’s recommended that you consume 0.14–0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.3–0.5 grams/kg) very soon after a workout (1Trusted Source).
Studies have shown that ingesting 20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise (6Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).