When planning for a workout, there’s a lot that goes into it to help you reach your goals. But how can nutrition after your workout can help you reach your fitness goals?
When you’re working out, your muscles use up their glycogen — the body’s preferred fuel source. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Some of the proteins in your muscles can also be broken down. After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores as well as repair and regrow those muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster and most importantly decrease muscle protein breakdown, increase muscle protein synthesis (growth), restore glycogen stores and optimally enhance recovery.
Inadequate nutrition recovery after exercise, especially if training multiple times a day, can result in increased fatigue during your training and at work, reduced performance at the next training session, suboptimal gains from the session just completed and can increase muscle soreness.
Although nutrition recovery after exercise depends a lot from the type of exercise we have just completed, a general rule of a post-workout meal would be a combination of protein and carbs that will enhance glycogen storage and muscle protein synthesis. Consuming a ratio of 3 to 1 (carbs to protein) is a practical way to achieve this. Last but not least, include a source of fluid and electrolytes to rehydrate effectively.
There’s no one “best” option for what to eat after exercise. Dairy foods such as flavoured milk, smoothies or fruit yoghurt can be a great option as they can provide carbohydrate, protein, fluid and electrolytes ticking all of your recovery goals in one handy option. Other options would be Chicken and Rice, Salmon with sweet potato, egg omelet with avocado spread on whole grain toast, etc.
The body is most effective at replacing carbohydrate and promoting muscle repair and growth in the first 60-90min after exercise, however this will continue to occur for another 12-24hr. You can consume your post-workout meal soon after exercising, ideally within a few hours. However, you can extend this period a little longer, depending on the timing of your pre-workout meal and your schedule.
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