What you should eat post-workout, according to the experts

Nutrition goes hand in hand with exercise when it comes to achieving your fitness goals. What you eat post-workout can be just as important as what you eat before you work out.

January 2013 study in International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Metabolism He said, “The post-workout period is widely considered the most critical part of nutrient timing. In theory, consuming the right proportion of nutrients during this time not only begins to rebuild damaged muscle tissue and restore energy reserves, but it also does so in In a very compensatory way that enhances body composition and exercise performance.”

In a viral post on TikTok, which has more than 129,000 views at the time of writing, fitness trainer Alyssa Glantz says the best post-workout snacks and meals focus on regeneration and recovery.

Stock Image – Man and woman working out with listing of a healthy food bowl.
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Rachel McPherson, an ACE-CPT (American Council Certified in Exercise Personal Trainer) and registered dietitian at Garage Gym Reviews, tells SELF. Newsweek What you eat post-workout is vital to replenishing your stores of glycogen, which is “the stored form of carbohydrate that fuels workouts and recovery, as well as protein to support tissue repair and growth.”

told Roxana Ehsani, a board-certified sports nutritionist in Miami, Florida Newsweek It is especially important for athletes who train intensely (5-6 days per week, for more than an hour and a half each day) to eat a light meal after exercise, as well as plenty of fluids and electrolytes, in order to maximize recovery time between training sessions at a rate hurry up.

“Blood flow to muscles is much greater after exercise, and muscle cells are more likely to absorb glucose and more sensitive to the effects of insulin, which helps replenish and refuel glycogen stores,” she said.

Should you not eat protein until after a workout?

Lauren Helen Marsh is a clinical nutrition therapist, certified herbal medicine practitioner, and health coach at Able, a wellness and weight management platform. Marsh said Newsweek This protein (Amino acid) combined with complex carbohydrates is the best baseline combination for providing your lean muscles with nutrients post-workout.

She suggests eating collagen protein, creatine protein, or whey protein to repair and strengthen your muscles, with berries, leafy greens, or yogurt “for better results.” She said chicken, turkey, raw milk, yogurt, grass-fed beef, and fish are also great for muscle recovery.

What do you eat between workouts?

For those whose next workout is scheduled for less than eight hours, Ehsani recommends a smoothie that’s not too high in total calories but still contains the following:

  • A high-quality source of protein to help rebuild any muscle breakdown occurred during activity such as 1 cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt (it has about 20 grams of protein).
  • 1 cup of berries add carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and contain one of the highest amounts of dietary fiber among other fruits.
  • 1-2 bunches of baby spinach or kale; This adds vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
  • 1 frozen banana, which provides a high-quality source of carbohydrates to help refuel glycogen stores and a good source of potassium, an electrolyte that can be depleted after activity.
Aerial view of healthy lunch boxes.
Stock photo of lunch boxes consisting of rice, vegetables, nuts, eggs and salmon. A high quality source of protein to help rebuild any muscle breakdown that occurred during activity.
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What do you eat after a workout when you’re a beginner?

For those who exercise less than an hour a day and don’t do any high-intensity or long-term activities, Ehsani said, “They can wait to eat until their next meal.”

For example, if you exercise at 5:30 – 6 p.m. local time, eat dinner within an hour after your workout, and eat a “nutrient-dense” meal, such as the following, Ehsani said:

  • Filet of wild Alaskan salmon, as it is a high-quality protein option and contains essential omega-3 fats that help reduce post-workout inflammation.
  • Also have a cup of mixed whole grains like quinoa or farro, for their dietary fiber and staying full longer.
  • Two cups of roasted vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and carrots. Prepping half of your plate full of vegetables is a great way to get plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber as well as fill you up to prevent feelings of hunger soon after a meal.

“This meal is nutrient-dense, containing high-quality protein, complex carbohydrates, an abundance of dietary fiber, and healthy sources of fat,” said Ehsani.

A man eating a bowl of oatmeal with fruit.
Stock photo of a man sitting at a bowl of oatmeal and fruit. A nutrient-dense post-workout meal also helps.
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What to eat after exercise foods to lose weight

said Michael Giardina, CrossFit Level 4 Coach and Senior Director of Health Education at CrossFit Newsweek Losing weight has less to do with what you eat immediately after a workout and more to do with what you eat throughout the day.

“If you’re already under-eating and then go into another nutritional deficit, you’ll lose muscle, which is the weight you don’t want to lose. To lose weight, you’ll have to reduce the total amount you eat from your baseline,” he said.

Exercise dietitian McPherson recommends eating carbohydrates and protein after a strength-training session when you’re trying to lose weight. “If you can’t avoid excess carbs, opt for protein. However, right after your workout, you’re less likely to store carbs as fat.” [fatty] tissues where it will be used to replenish glycogen stores. Aim to eat 25 grams of protein.”

She said those who feel the need to eat because they’re hungry after a workout should try to wait until they’re more rested and have a protein source with carbohydrates, such as some Greek yogurt with a banana or a hard-boiled egg with toast.

What to eat after exercise to gain muscle

MacPherson said eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein is best. Carbohydrates bring amino acids from proteins into your tissues to start rebuilding them. “This is key if you are trying to gain or maintain muscle during the weight-loss phase.”

MacPherson added that you also need to consume more calories than you burn in order to build new tissue and suggests eating plenty of “quick-digesting” carbohydrates and protein after your workout.

Ehsani noted, “The mistake that athletes often make when trying to gain muscle is that they only focus on eating plenty of protein but not eating enough carbohydrates and total calories. When trying to build and gain muscle, you have to focus on eating enough calories.” thermal”.

A jar of juices with a straw.
Stock image of jars of fruit juices surrounded by various fruits and vegetables on a table. Sports nutritionist ehsani recommends an after-dinner snack like trail mix when trying to gain muscle.
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To gain muscle, she recommends having a smoothie or a higher-calorie snack after your workout, such as the following:

  • A post-workout smoothie contains at least 20-30 grams of protein, which can come from 1 scoop of whey protein powder (15-20 grams of protein depending on the brand), plus 1 cup of milk or soy milk ( 8 grams of protein). Protein is important, but you don’t need to overdo it either, with a maximum of 30 grams enough for most people to repair muscle damage.
  • Add healthy fats to help reduce post-workout inflammation and a healthy dose of calories: add half an avocado or 2-3 tablespoons of nut butter (peanut butter or almond butter).
  • Make sure you have plenty of quality carbohydrate sources too, from whole grains or fruits. Try adding “quality carbohydrates,” such as 100 percent orange, pomegranate, or tart cherry juice, or a half cup or a full cup of oats to your smoothie. Or have a slice or two of whole-wheat toast with your smoothie.

After your post-workout smoothie, eat a nutrient-dense meal within two hours of your workout (Shown above) and a post-dinner snack, like Trail Mix, said ehsani.

What to eat after a workout when you want to tone up, not gain muscle

Ehsani advises consuming “high-quality, lean protein sources from whole food sources,” such as the following, in place of protein powders or sports foods:

  • Almond butter and banana.
  • Plain Greek yogurt and a cup of sliced ​​mixed fruit, topped with muesli or granola.
  • A slice of whole wheat bread with avocado slices and a boiled egg.

“Then make sure you have a nutrient-dense meal within two hours after your workout that contains all of the macronutrients,” she said.

Many people think the way to avoid weight gain is to drastically cut calories, Giardina said, but “it couldn’t be more wrong than that.”

Avocado on toast with cranberries and seeds.
A stock photo of avocado on toast topped with dried cranberries and seeds. According to experts, strength training and post-workout eating won’t make you bulky.
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Giardina explained that if you want to “lean or lean,” you need to build more lean muscle and that process requires “the right kinds of food in the right amounts” and eating well throughout the day.

“Eat the right types of food and eat to meet your activity level. From there, you can adjust your macronutrient ratios to meet your goals,” he said.

MacPherson said, “Toning is not an act that your muscles can do. They either grow, they shrink, or they stay the same.” Women who want to get “skinny and crispy but firm” should stick to eating a mixture of protein and carbohydrates after a workout.

“Women are unlikely to get bulky without intentionally consuming many more calories than they need to maintain their weight, performing specific bulking training plans, and eating plenty of protein. Strength training and post-workout eating won’t make you bulky,” he said.

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