Best Foods to Eat After Intense Workouts

Published January 8th, 2019 - 11:55 GMT
Eggs are a good food to have after exercising. Oatmeal and peanut butter are among the other choices. (Photo:
Eggs are a good food to have after exercising. Oatmeal and peanut butter are among the other choices. (Photo:

The new year is finally here and it's time to start on your new exercise goals. But before you get too far into January, keep in mind that your workout doesn't end when you leave the gym or finish that final lap on the track.

Choosing the right foods after your workout can help you recover more quickly, build muscle, and get ready for your next workout. Here's a quick guide to making the most of your post-workout nutrition. When you work out, your muscles use their glycogen energy stores. Some of the muscle proteins also get damaged, especially during strength workouts. Vanessa Voltolina, a registered dietitian in the greater New York City area, says 'eating the right combination of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals helps speed the process of rebuilding the used glycogen stores, as well as repairing muscle proteins.'

People also shouldn't shy away from including some healthy fats in their diet. 'I think most people are in need of more healthy fats to help take in the fatsoluble vitamins,' said Adam Kelinson, a New York City-based private chef and nutritional consultant for athletes, celebrities, and executives. What you eat after a workout depends on the duration and intensity of exercise. The type of exercise is also important.

'Higher carbohydrate meals are most beneficial after endurance activities - such as running or cycling - lasting more than an hour,' Voltolina told Healthline. 'Following strength training, it's important to consume protein in combination with moderate carbohydrate.' Timing also matters, but you have more wiggle room than you might think.

'The ideal timing for consuming a post-workout snack is within 45 minutes,' said Voltolina, 'but benefits can be seen up to 2 hours after training.' Keeping it in perspective Karina Inkster, a vegan fitness and nutrition coach based in Vancouver, British Columbia, said unless you're an athlete or work out a lot, post-workout nutrition is not as important as other factors - such as your overall macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats), eating mainly whole foods, and your overall calorie intake. So, when deciding what to eat after your workout, you have to keep in mind how the whole day fits your exercise goals. 'You want your 24- hour period to look great,' said Inkster.

'If that means amping up your protein content, then by default, your post-workout nutrition meal or snack is probably going to be a little higher in protein.' Vegans and vegetarians, though, need to eat protein from a variety of sources throughout the day to make sure they're getting enough of the essential amino acids. Kelinson said you should also be honest about how much of your workout is actually moderate or high intensity. 'Ultimately, you may spend just 30 or 40 minutes out of an hour working out,' Kelinson explained to Healthline. 'You move from one thing to the next, you talk a little bit, you get some water, you take your breaks. We're not talking highexertion efforts here.'

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