You’ve just worked out. You’re exhausted, your muscles are sore, and you’re starving. What should you reach for? What can you eat that will not ruin, but capitalize on, your hard workout? This age old question is toughie—so let’s take a look at the best post-workout nutrients, and the foods in which they can be found.
When you work out, and push yourself, your body will tap into (and use up) energy stored in your muscles in the form of glycogen and protein. For your muscles to repair and grow, these stores need repletion.
Your post workout focus should be on carb and protein intake. If you have worked out strenuously, it is recommended that you eat 30 to 35 grams of carbohydrates, and 20 to 40 grams of protein.
What’s more, you should be eating fairly quickly after you leave the gym. Many experts recommend that you eat no later than 45 minutes after a workout, or, if you're trying to pack on muscle, no more than 15 minutes afterward.
Here are some of the best foods for getting your post workout nutrient fix:
Eat it in a salad, or straight from the tree—most fruit doesn’t need a fancy recipe to taste great. Fruit contains a ton of the complex carbohydrates you need in your depleted state. Furthermore, all fruit contains a ton of antioxidants and, better yet, enzymes, which will accelerate the passage of nutrients into your weary, beaten muscles.
Any variety of low-fat meat works—lean pork, fish, or bison are all acceptable choices. Eat your meat stir-fried, roasted, grilled and or off the bone.
Chicken is, perhaps, the best choice. Not only is the bird rich in protein (17 grams per serving), it’s also extremely low in fat and high in essential nutrients like vitamin B, which is critical for carbohydrate metabolism.
3. Whole grains
Try bran cereal, whole-wheat rice or pasta, quinoa or any one of a thousand other varieties of whole grains. These options provide you with the complex carb value you need for maximum muscle recovery and growth (a single serving of whole-wheat pasta contains a whopping 37.5 grams of carbohydrates).
4. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds alike are extremely protein rich, and can be perfect post work out. But be aware: the fat content can be high. If you’re not so worried about the fat, go hog wild. Nuts are filling and loaded with fiber and other nutrients and antioxidants as well.
Beans, beans. They’re good for more than just your heart. If you eat garbanzo or black beans for your post workout protein fix, you can avoid the fat of meat or nuts. These little gems, like fruit, nuts and seeds, contain a plethora of antioxidants and other healthful vitamins and nutrients.
CATEGORIES: Health, Diet, Eating After Workout, Fitness, Food, Exercise