Incorporating a post-exercise snack into your workout regimen is important for proper recovery and will help to ensure that you’ll be able to hit the gym again soon.
How long after?
Marie Spano, MS, RD, ISSN and the author of Speeding Recovery- Nutrition and Supplementation for Exercise recommends to have your post-exercise snack or shake within two hours of exercise (but do it as soon as you can!). Right after exercise, some athletes have a harder time eating because they are less hungry, but if you can tolerate it not only will your body burn it the quickest but it is more likely to help in muscle recovery.
What to include:
In your post-exercise snack, getting both carbohydrates and protein is essential. Carbohydrates are needed to replenish the carbohydrate stores in your muscles that were used up (called muscle glycogen), and protein is necessary to help in muscle repair. Muscle damage happens both when you lift weights and when you do cardiovascular exercise; but weight lifting causes more damage. The best way to make sure your muscles get properly repaired is to eat a balanced snack when you finish exercising. Snacks and shakes with a 3:1 ratio, carbohydrates to protein are used best by the muscles, but a snack that is mostly carbohydrates but has some protein will do you just fine. There’s no need to calculate gram for gram protein versus carbohydrates, just make sure you are getting a bit of both.
…if you cannot find a snack that you think is “balanced,” something as small as a piece of fruit will do you better than nothing. Something is always better than nothing- at least until you can get your hands on something more substantial.
Macronutrients for refueling:
protein- like whey protein, no more than 20 g- your body cannot use more than this at one time
carbohydrates- simple carbohydrates like fruit will be digested more quickly and can get into your muscles more quickly to help with repair
Fluids- you need 16 oz of water to every 1 lb you lose in water during exercise. You can weigh yourself before and after workout to find out how much water-weight you are losing.
Trying to save calories?
…Eating a balanced lunch or breakfast after a workout, like a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato, or an omelet with a piece of toast or fruit would also be perfect. Basically it is important to get used to refueling. If you’re looking to save extra calories, eating your regularly scheduled meal after working out can be a great way to do so.
What the chocolate milk?
For all of you out there, chocolate milk has been shown to be a great post-workout snack. It has a perfect combination of carbohydrates and protein, but opt for the low fat option when it’s available.
Do I need a protein shake?
So is it necessary to have a protein shake or special drink? no, research in 2009 in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that a snack or meal that was made up of mostly carbohydrates and some protein was just as effective. That said, it is sometimes more convenient to put all of this into a shake. A typical shake will have both carbohydrates and protein, so all of your bases will be covered.
Here’s a basic shake recipe:
1 scoop 15-20 g whey protein (or other kind of protein like rice, hemp, spirulina, soy)
frozen or fresh fruit- about 1 cup
3/4 cup of almond, soy, low-fat or fat free milk, or a juice if you are allergic or don’t like any of the previously listed- water works too!
ice- depending how icy you like it, add it slowly
If you don’t have time to blend at home, check out Mix1 Shakes (www.Mix1Life.com), they have a perfect blend of 15 g of whey, fruit puree, and a little olive oil (healthy fat)- and 3 g of fiber too! All for about 200 calories, and they come in a few different flavors. My favorite? Blueberry Vanilla
I’ll be posting about different post-workout protein sources soon!
- Healthy Gal