Why Do I Need to Eat after a Workout (and What Should I Eat?)
Perhaps the most important and often overlooked aspect of training, both for the elite athlete and the occasional exerciser, involves the recovery process and the refueling of the body.
Every time you exercise your body breaks down muscle fibers and creates small micro tears in your muscles.
Ideally, the body repairs these little tears and actually makes them stronger by the time you go to exercise again. Simplistically, this is how the body continue to progress your fitness.
However, in order for your body to complete this rebuilding process it needs the proper nutrients, and lots of them.
Many scientific studies have determined the optimal time and amount of nutrients needed to be consumed in order to maximize the recovery process.
Ideally, nutrient intake should begin as soon as possible after finishing exercise and continue for about an hour to 90 minutes.
During this time, you should consume a 4 to 1 ration of Carbohydrates to Protein. This means that for every 4 grams of carbs you consume you also need 1 gram of protein.
The consumption of too much protein in this process will inhibit your body’s absorption of the carbohydrates by slowing the gastric emptying rate.
That being said, a little bit of protein helps produce muscle rebuilding amino acids and hormones
This formula may seem like a complicated system to add to your already hectic training schedule.
However, with very little planning and a few ideas from me, you can make it very easy.
My personal favorite recovery tool is a product called Endurox because it contains the perfect 4 to 1 ratio along with many amino acids and vitamins.
I find it to be the perfect no brain solution to my recovery needs. I personally love the chocolate flavor, but I have heard the vanilla is delicious too.
Yes, it can be a little pricey I usually only use it after my hardest workouts and I suggest looking online for the best price.
For that reason, I will also suggest a few other nutrition options to give you some ideas.
If you are at the gym a good suggestion is gatorade and a powerbar. Both are portable and will stay good even in your gym bag.
At home you have a wider range of options. If you prefer liquids you can go with chocolate milk. Yes chocolate milk is good for you! I also like yogurt with a bagel or some granola.
No matter what you choose as your recovery food of choice make sure you consume it as soon after exercise as possible.
The body has a small window of optimal nutrient absorption, 30-90 minutes, and you want to make sure you utilize as much of that window as possible.