Concerned about what you should be eating post-workout to get max results? You’re not alone! Our Fitness Expert, Libby Babet, discusses the topic and gives you a few ideas for what to reach for next time you wrap up a sweat session.
Trainers and nutritionists are asked this question a LOT and the answer can either be simple, or a bit more complicated, depending on your current goals, as well as the kind of workout you’ve just done.
The simple answer, if your goal is to get healthy and improve fitness, is that it doesn’t really matter too much, so long as you’re choosing whole foods that will nourish your body – one-ingredient foods from plant sources, or good quality quality animal sources are a great start!
I love these easy guides for deciding what to eat at regular meals, versus post-workout meals,
'ANYTIME' MEALS (these are meals eaten at any time other than immediately post-workout) should be made up of half to three quarters veggies and salad, around a quarter lean protein and then a small serve of good fats to make up the rest.
FOR POST-WORKOUT MEALS (those eaten up to 1-2 hours after working out), ditch the fats (they’re not absorbed so well post-exercise) and include more carbs so that your plate is made up of around half veggies and fruit, a little starch (rice, beans, sweet potatoes etc) and a decent serve of lean protein.
After a workout, your body will use the energy from carbs more efficiently and actually needs them in order to replenish glycogen stores, create lean muscle and ultimately keep your metabolism fired up.
BOTTOM LINE - veggies, proteins and fats any old time and proteins and carbs post-workout.
Here are a few ideas for what to snack on after 3 specific kind of sessions, when you haven't had a chance to sit down to a complete meal quite yet but need an energy hit.
AFTER A LONG RUN OR ANY ENDURACNE CARDIO SESSION
Hydrate first with water or fresh coconut water, then eat something that’s about 80% carbs and 20% protein. A small shake made from a banana and some berries, an egg, some almond milk or coconut water and a little ice (add a scoop of raw cacao or some cinnamon for a treat!) is perfect, or pair some plain organic yoghurt with oats, berries and nuts. Even a piece of wholegrain sourdough, or a banana with nut butter and a teeny bit of honey can hit the spot.
AFTER A SWIM OR WATERSPORTS
You’ll feel hungrier than usual because your core temperature drops in the water, so your bod wants energy to help it warm up! Avoid overeating by choosing a warm snack to help your body shake off the chill.
Soup, a cup of tea with cream and honey, or even a hot chocolate made with almond milk and a little cinnamon or chilli works wonders. Once you’ve warmed up, you can approach your main meal with a little more restraint.
AFTER A WEIGHTS SESSION OR CIRCUIT CLASS
Your glycogen stores are depleted and your muscles are crying out for energy, so carbs eaten now will help your body to recover and stay lean, rather than put on weight (hallelujah!). Protein’s important too as it helps repair muscle damage and you’ll get max benefit when you eat within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, so make sure you have a good quality protein source and a mix of complex and simple carbs on hand.
Chicken with rice or sweet potato and greens works well, scrambled eggs and veggies on grainy sourdough is a winner, or if you’re on the go, try hommus with wholegrain crackers, or pre-made mini frittatas with your choice of veggies, or leg ham/salmon. None of the above on hand? Grab yourself a green veggie juice to help realkalise your body and provide a few friendly carbs, or reach for a piece of fruit and a few nuts.