Thinking about what you eat after your workout, and when you eat it, can have a positive impact on your recovery. In this blog, we’ll outline some key reasons why it’s important to eat after your workout, and show you some of our favourite after gym snacks and meals, so all your hard work at the gym doesn’t go to waste!
Why Eat a Post-Workout Meal?
When you’re exercising, your body uses up the glycogen stores in your muscles for fuel. This means during exercise, your muscles become partially drained of fuel, and some of the proteins in your muscles can also get broken down or damaged. So when you’ve finished exercising, your body tries to replenish and replace what’s been lost.
Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body to do this more quickly and can help to stimulate the growth of new muscle – don’t we all want that?!
The timing of your post-workout meal is important because your body’s ability to rebuild and replace is enhanced after exercise. Your timing doesn’t have to be exact, but experts recommend eating within 45 minutes of finishing exercise.
If you ate a pre-workout meal you might be able to extend this period a little longer, and the benefits of this meal should still apply. If you’re interested in our recommendations for pre-workout meals, keep an eye on our blogs over the next few months!
Even if you can only manage a small portion of good food within 15 minutes of exercising, the benefits can be dramatic.
Our Top Tips for Post-Workout Foods
So, if the main aim of a post-workout meal is to supply your body with the right nutrients to help it recover and maximise the benefits of your workout, choosing easily digested foods will allow the nutrients to be absorbed more quickly.
To access the right nutrients, your body needs a combination of different foods:
- Protein to help repair and build muscle
- Carbohydrates to help replenish the glycogen stores used during the exercise.
- Whilst fat is often thought to slow down digestion or stop nutrients being absorbed properly, it’s not as bad as you might fear! In fact, studies have shown whilst it might slow down the absorption of your meal, it won’t reduce the benefits and it can even help to promote muscle growth.
You could get protein from:
- Animal or plant-based protein powder
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Protein bars
Carby foods include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Fruits, e.g. pineapple, berries, banana, kiwi
- Rice cakes
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
Some good sources of fat are:
- Nut butters
Quick and Easy Post-Workout Meals
If you’re looking for some inspiration, these are some of our favourite post-workout meals that are quick and easy to make:
- Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables
- Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread
- Pitta and hummus
- Rice crackers with peanut butter
- Protein shake and banana
- Egg omelette with avocado spread on toast
If you fancy trying a great recipe, here’s ours for smoked haddock and eggs (serves 4). It’s jam-packed with protein (44.2g), contains little carbs (2.2g), is low fat (8.2g), low calories (270kcal) and tastes delicious!
– 4x125g Smoked Haddock fillets
– 4 large Eggs
– 125g raw Baby Spinach or steam normal spinach
– 600ml Fish Stock
1. Place haddock in saucepan with water/fish stock. Bring to the boil, reduce to simmer and gently poach for 4-5 mins. Remove with slotted spoon to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
2. In the same saucepan, bring back to the boil, crack in eggs and poach for 3 mins (soft set).
3. Serve immediately on bed of spinach with haddock topped by egg
We’ve got lots more recipes for all dietary requirements in our cookbooks which you can buy for as little as £2.99 from our online shop.
Interested in Nutrition and Exercise?
Post-workout nutrition is so important if you’re to lead a healthy lifestyle. If you’re interested in learning more about nutrition and exercise in general, our 6 Week In Shape Programme with Sarah could be for you. Sarah is a qualified Level 3 Diet and Nutrition Specialist who can help to guide you towards a healthier lifestyle through the exercise classes and nutrition tips supplied through the programme.
You can find out more and get your name on the waiting list for the next programme by filling the form our on the In Shape Programme page.