What Should I Eat After Exercising?

You’ve just had a great workout. You feel like getting cleaned up but there is one thing more important than that right now. What you eat after a workout session is essential to rest and recovery.

After a workout, your body is depleted of water, vitamins and minerals. It is in need of a boost to get it going again. The first thing you do is reach for the nearest thing to drink (hopefully water) to rehydrate yourself. After that, your choice of what to eat dictates how fast you will recover from your workout and how well you will be able to train the next time.

Most people think of filling their body with carbohydrates. It is true that carbohydrates are your main supply of energy while you work out. Consuming carbohydrates before a workout allows you to exercise harder and longer without feeling exhausted.

After a workout your blood sugar is low. Eating or drinking some form of carbohydrate after you exercise can help with increasing glycogen stores. Glycogen is sugar stored in the muscles as a result of insulin production. It gives you the energy you need to go again when you are ready. Your carbs will stimulate insulin production and then glycogen.

But, since we are dealing with muscles here there is another important nutrient that is needed. It is protein. Protein is the building block of muscle tissue. After an intense workout, especially weight training, muscle fibers have gone through a tearing down phase in an effort to build larger and stronger muscles.

Those muscles need protein to do that. While you are hunting for carbs, don’t forget the protein. Muscles rebuild when there is sufficient protein available. The first two hours after a workout is optimal time for increasing glycogen production and also for giving the muscles what they need to rebuild.

You may not feel like eating right after a workout but you need to have something in your system to get it going again. It doesn’t have to be much. A heavy meal so soon can make you nauseous.

The best thing to do is keep foods on hand that you can eat in a hurry to keep your body going. One favorite choice is protein bars. They are small enough to fit in your gym bag and you can eat one as you drive home from the gym.

Other choices for protein consumption:

* Protein shakes
* Lean meat sandwich on whole grain bread
* Electrolyte drinks

We often think of eating carbohydrates when we finish a workout, but protein is important to rebuild the muscles you just tore down. Consume it as soon as you can after a workout for a quicker recovery time between workouts.