How to fuel your body after working out

By Kryzette Papagayo | Photos by Cru Camara

Opt for chicken breast with its high-quality protein and lesser fat content

The best time to reward yourself is after an intense training session. Post-workout, your body is in full recovery mode. While you’ve ensured your totals for the day, the second most important thing to consider is the food you consume before and after your run.

Most true with intense exercise, eating a “recovery” meal will help gain nutrients lost. Health.com reports, “It’s the recovery from exercise that really allows you to see results in terms of building strength, endurance, and lean muscle tissue.” Simply put, your pre-workout meals are vital in fueling and making the most of your performance during training, while what you eat after is important in elevating and enhancing your recovery process.

Recovery is a loose term denoting both adapting to the lost glycogen levels and improving your body following your desired outcome. Glycogen is considered the primary fuel for exercise. Thirty to 60 minutes after your exercise, everything you consume is put to work. The stress put on your muscles and joints are repaired, and the nutrients lost are replenished. The healthier food you consume, the cleaner the cells that are produced during this stage. Some sports scientists confirm the efficiency of the 30-minute anabolic window. Supposedly, this window after exercise is when the body will best inspire muscle growth and recuperation.

When carried out properly, post-workout meals maximize the effectiveness of your training. The key is getting enough protein, carbohydrates, fats, and/or fluids to replenish muscle tissue and glycogen levels. Before your next training, plan your recovery meal with these tips:

Protein

Helping the body adapt to different types of exercise, protein helps in repairing tissues and building muscle. More importantly, protein is critical in helping the body adapt to different types of exercise. If you’re building muscle, replenish with a healthy mix of peanut butter or fruits with milk. Eat for anabolism and consume a good amount of protein fast with a protein shake. 

Potatoes also provide carbohydrates, potassium, and energy. Just watch the toppings and eat them baked.

Carbohydrates

A number of sports scientists argue that taking in fructose is not effective. However, more studies note that a mix of glucose and fructose is deemed superior in relieving muscle pain. Daily Burn suggests, “If you’re going for a light jog, you don’t need a ton of carbs. But if you’re running long distances, performing weightlifting workouts or even doing a 20-minute HIIT session, you’re going to need some carbs in the tank.” Fruits are your go-to snack to easily get carbs into your system. After hitting the gym, munch on ready to eat fruits like apples, strawberries, and watermelon. Rich in complex carbs, sweet potatoes can also help boost glycogen after training.

Fats

Debates about the efficacy of fats in post-workout meals are tied to common knowledge that it slows down digestion, with some approving the notion that meals after training should be fat-free. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t help in muscle growth or building glycogen. Precision Nutrition notes a study that proves this point. Comparing the effects of drinking skimmed or whole milk, two groups were asked to drink either 14 oz. of skimmed milk or eight oz. of whole milk after training. Results showed that the participants who drank skimmed milk got an equal amount of calories, but with added six grams of protein to their advantage.

Fluids

More than aiding digestion during your post-workout meal, hydration after training contributes to reduced fatigue and heart rate recovery. Think of it as protocol every time you train; your body can only fully recover when you replace the fluids lost by your body.