Tips for Optimizing Your Post-Workout Mealson
Contributor: Lucy Wyndham
Popular beliefs seem to state that people need to consume lots of protein after a workout. However, according to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the amount of protein is often less than we think we need. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein daily for every kilogram of body weight for athletes. This amount of protein, of course, depends on the training, with more intense muscle-increasing body builders requiring a bit more. Your body needs a balanced blend of healthy foods with the right kinds of fats, carbs, and protein to replenish after exercise.
Do Not Completely Eliminate Either Carbs or Protein
While several people are moving towards more vegetarian and vegan diets, the majority of the US population still focuses on high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets. Even if you follow a plan such as Paleo or Keto, you still need to get adequate intake of carbs after working out. The importance of carbohydrates in aiding not only our energy levels but also tissue repair is vital. Even on high-protein diets, several types of carbs can fulfill this area of your diet while keeping your glycemic index low. Foods such as beans, high-fiber fruits like apples, and most vegetables are excellent options. However, protein is still vital for muscle repair and getting amino acids, so even if you’re vegan, eat protein after a workout.
Plan and Have Your Kitchen Stocked
Always stock your kitchen with easy to cook, nutritious ingredients. If you’re a meat-eater, have lean meats available. If you don’t have much time to prepare meals, there are plenty of options such as pre-cooked chicken that can be added to a salad. Beans are a fantastic food after exercise, as they are full of protein, fiber, low-glycemic carbohydrates, are gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Moreover, they’re super budget-friendly! Recipes such as light tacos, hearty chili, salads, and even brownies can incorporate beans with ease. It’s a great idea to cook a couple of meals in advance so you can heat them up after the gym.
Keep Yourself Prepared at the Gym
Sometimes we don’t have time for a full meal after a workout. Even if you’re in a hurry, find something healthy to replenish your body after exercise. Smoothies and wholesome snack bars are an option if it will be a couple of hours before you sit down for a full meal. Additionally, you never know when you might start feeling light-headed at the gym and need to boost your blood sugar or refuel on energy. Whether you’re a plant-based eater or need some protein if you skipped it at breakfast, keeping a few healthy fitness-inspired snacks in your bag or locker is an excellent idea.
Post-Workout Sugar Cravings: Dessert After Dumbbells?
If you’re trying to stick to a healthy diet, but have a severe sweet tooth, opt for healthier versions of sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are known to affect our bodies negatively. However, honey is essentially a superfood in sweet form. With benefits ranging from cardiovascular health, antimicrobial properties, anti-inflammatory benefits, and even anti-cancer properties, honey mixed with healthy ingredients is an ideal sweetener if you’re craving a sugary pick-me-up after a strenuous workout.