Best Post Workout Meals For Weight Loss Your Total Kinobody Experience – So you finished your workout and you’re starting to feel exhilarated (sometimes a bit lightheaded, depending on the length of your workout). To make sure that you get the most out of it, you must eat the correct post-workout foods within 30 minutes of completing your workout.
Eating after a workout is important
To understand how the right foods can help you after exercise, it’s important to learn how physical activity affects your body.
When you’re working out, your muscles use up their glycogen — the body’s preferred fuel source especially during high- intensity workouts. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Some of the proteins in your muscles can also be broken down and damaged
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. It’s especially important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.
Doing this helps your body:
- decrease muscle protein breakdown
- increase muscle protein synthesis (growth)
- restore glycogen stores
- enhance recovery
Getting in the right nutrients after exercise can help you rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores. It also helps stimulate new muscle growth.
Protein, carbs, and fat
Each macronutrient — protein, carbs, and fat — is involved in your body’s post-workout recovery process. That’s why it’s important to have the right mix.
Protein helps repair and build muscle
Exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein. The rate at which this happens depends on the exercise and your level of training, but even well-trained athletes experience muscle-protein breakdown
Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue
It’s recommended that you consume 0.14–0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.3–0.5 grams/kg) very soon after a workout
However, one study found that eating protein pre-workout and post-workout has a similar effect on muscle strength, hypertrophy, and body composition changes
Studies have shown that ingesting 20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise
Carbs help with recovery
Your body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.
The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training. For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (running, swimming, etc.), you might need to consume more carbs than someone engaging in weightlifting.
Consuming 0.5–0.7 grams of carbs per pound (1.1–1.5 grams/kg) of body weight within 30 minutes after training results in proper glycogen resynthesis
Furthermore, insulin secretion, which promotes glycogen synthesis, is better stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed at the same time
Therefore, consuming both carbs and protein after exercise can maximize protein and glycogen synthesis
Try consuming the two in a ratio of 3 to 1 (carbs to protein). For example, that’s 40 grams of protein and 120 grams of carbs
Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts, this becomes less important.
Fat is not that bad
Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits. For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk
Moreover, another study showed that even when ingesting a high fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out, muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected .
It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.
A post-workout meal with both protein and carbs 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.
The timing of your post-workout meal matters
Your body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced after you exercise
For this reason, it’s recommended that you consume a combination of carbs and protein as soon as possible after exercising. In the past, experts recommended eating your post-workout meal within 45 minutes, as a delay of carb consumption by as little as 2 hours after a workout may lead to as much as 50% lower rates of glycogen synthesis
However, more recent research has found that the post-exercise window to maximize the muscular response to eating protein is wider than initially thought, up to as many as several hours
Additionally, if you consumed a meal rich in whole carbs and protein perhaps an hour before exercising, it’s likely that the benefits from that meal still apply after training (
Additionally, recovery is not just about what you consume directly after working out. When you exercise consistently, the process is ongoing. It is best to continue to eat small, well-balanced meals of carbs and protein every 3–4 hours
Eat 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.
What Are The Best Post-Workout Meals For Recovery?
As far as we’re concerned, the perfect post-workout meal includes the following:
Not only are whole foods an excellent source of carbs – but they also provide your body with nearly 25% of its daily recommended water intake on average.
If you’re one to indulge in a post-workout protein shake, studies show that including some form of healthy fat into the mix (Such as milk proteins, peanut butter, or MCT oil) may greatly improve satiety after consumption.
Protein also plays a role in how satisfied you are after a tough workout and a post-workout snack.
Fluids and other agents that aid the body in nutrient absorption post-workout. Your gastric motor activity and the gastric emptying rate that follows will end up determining how good you feel after you eat post-workout. This is actually one of the reasons why hydrating yourself before, during, and after vigorous resistance exercise is imperative.
Supplementation, if necessary or desired for performance. This can come in the form of whey protein powder or another form of dairy protein supplement. Some studies indicate that, alongside a stretching routine pre-and post-workout, some supplements might actually help you prevent muscle soreness after exercise.
Once you know exactly what your body needs, planning your routine becomes a simple matter of choosing high-quality sources of nutrition that you look forward to eating after the gym.
The Best Foods To Eat After Working Out
After weight training or any other form of intense exercise, you’ll likely be ravenous, but your body will probably be craving something on the lighter side.
Choosing rich, nutrient-dense foods is one way to get the most bang for your buck. You’ll replenish your energy stores without loading yourself down too much after exertion.
After your resistance training workout, you’ll want to consume a combination of fat, carbs, and protein for optimal results. Here are several ideas to get you started.
- Peanut butter, or any other type of nut butter
- Chia or flax seed-enhanced snacks and meals, like flaxmeal banana bread or a smoothie with chia seeds mixed in
- Fatty fish, like salmon or tuna
Extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil
Consuming carbohydrates after resistance exercise is also vital. As always, it’s best to choose complex over simple, (but you can certainly make an exception if your body is asking for it. A healthy smoothie with lots of fruit instead of a real, sit-down meal is sometimes just what the doctor’s order.
You can spin the below in a million different ways.
- Whole-grain bread
- Long-grain brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole grains such as millet, barley, and quinoa
As for your essential amino acids for muscle growth, lean, slow-digesting proteins are key.
- Grilled chicken
- rass-fed beef
For the non-meat eaters among us, we have some good news: milk protein has been shown to stand strong as excellent fuel during your workout. It may also help facilitate a more desirable shift in body composition long-term.
The following non-meat proteins will contribute energy and vitality to your future workouts.
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
The more effectively you’re able to recover your glycogen storage and carb count, the more energized you’ll feel the next time you’re at the gym. Are you ready to cook?
Our Best Post-Workout Meal Ideas
If your goal is to build lean muscle mass and increase muscle growth, lean mass development the following post-workout recipes will help you get there.
Keep in mind that the more muscle you build, the more calories you’ll need to consume in order to support your muscle-building efforts.
A Gluten-Free Post-Workout Smoothie
A post-workout smoothie can be anything that you want it to be. One common strategy is freezing a bunch of fruit in advance and throwing in whatever you want after you’re done exercising. Fruits and vegetables such as bananas, mangos, blanched greens, baked sweet potatoes, beets, pineapple, and berries all pack a nutritional punch and are very easy on the stomach.
Supplementing your fitness smoothie with whey protein is one way to pack in a few more calories if necessary. Other add-ins include the aforementioned chia, flax, and nut butter, coconut, yogurt, juice, milk, Medjool dates, cocoa powder, stevia, vanilla, and perhaps even some boba if you’re feeling frisky.
These ingredients will all ensure that you’re never bored at the blending station.
And you don’t necessarily need to go on a strict juice cleanse to lose weight. If the goal is to lose fat, however, try replacing a few meals a week with one of these nourishing and balanced smoothie ideas.
A Quick and Easy Snack Plate
If you’re one to come home from work or school and grab a bite of everything, a fun and light snack plate is the ultimate way to relax after a workout.
Having a little bit of everything helps you recover a wide range of nutrient stores – fat, protein, and carbs., A dollop of cottage cheese or greek yogurt alongside some nuts and dried fruit, some cured meat and cheese, and maybe even a tab or two of dark chocolate will help you get your fix without falling victim to crazy cravings later on in the day or evening.
A well-balanced snack plate post-workout looks different in every kitchen. Keep healthy options on-hand and accessible for when it’s time to munch.
Post-Workout Meal Ideas & Tips
The post-workout meal doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does it require expensive shakes or supplements. The most important part of eating right is planning and preparing your meals. Your body will appreciate a meal ready to go when the workout is done.
Healthy and Convenient Post-Workout Foods
- Brown rice
- Chocolate milk
- Lean proteins
- Nut butter
- Power greens
- Whole grain wraps/tortillas
You can choose the convenience of protein powder or premixed protein drinks or bars if that works for your lifestyle and goals. You can also get into the habit of meal prep and planning your grocery trips centered around nutritious foods that help with recovery. You will have a ready stock of quality whole foods for frequent meals to keep your body fueled after a hard workout.
Preparing your post-workout food is also part of the fun of maintaining a healthy body and lifestyle. Below is a sampling of meals that can be enjoyed after a great workout.
Recovery Boosting Meal Ideas
- Brown rice and boneless skinless chicken breast: Prepare with your favorite low-sodium spices or salsa for a nutritious recovery meal. You can do this in the crockpot, stovetop, or oven.
- Egg scramble: Easy one-skillet meals where one whole egg, vegetables, and sweet potatoes can be tossed with favorite spices and sprinkled with fresh black pepper.
- Leftovers: What you cooked the night before is calling your name and ready to refuel that body. Do you have cooked quinoa ready to go? Toss on salad greens and sprinkle with balsamic for a well-balanced meal.
- Peanut butter: The all-American favorite sandwich on whole-grain sprouted toast is a post-workout pleaser. This nutrient-dense meal contains quality plant protein, healthy fat, and high fiber.
- Power smoothie: Blend your favorite fruit with non-fat Greek yogurt or favorite tolerated dairy, some water, and ice. You can significantly boost healthy fats with a spoonful of your favorite nut butter.
- Wraps: Whole grain high fiber wraps are a great start to a wonderful recovery meal. Add some fresh avocado, lean meat of your choice, greens, beans, or whatever suits the theme of the wrap, roll up, and enjoy.
A Word From Verywell
Finding what healthy foods work best for you post-workout will be through trial and error. Having a nutritional strategy in place will create the success of your food plan post and pre-workout.
Eating the right foods to fuel your body after exercise will be the most important part of achieving your goals. Other suggestions are not to skip meals and remember to drink plenty of water.