After burning calories and straining the muscles during your abs workout, there is just one thing you mustn’t overlook: your post workout nutrition. This meal is very important if you want to build nice muscles and watch your weight at the same time.
There is much confusion about what and how much to eat for this meal because there are many supplements, shakes and snacks that claim to be most efficient post-workout. In order for you to make a selection and an informed choice, there are some things you need to know first.
Why is it important to eat after a workout?
During a training session your body uses up a lot of energy and depletes the muscle’s fuel resources. Exercises use carbohydrates for energy and degrade muscle proteins by braking down muscle glycogen. The post-exercise nutrition is important because it provides the muscles with the raw materials they need to repair and grow, so this meal is vital for your recovery and will improve your ability to train consistently.
When should you eat after a workout?
The answer is simple: as soon as possible. This doesn’t mean you have to put down the weights and start eating. Basically you should be eating within an hour, if possible within half an hour. Eating within this time frame means you promote insulin release – and insulin is the one responsible for pumping amino acids and carbs back into the muscles. It is during these 30 to 60 minutes that your muscles benefit most from nutrition. Wait too long and the process of protein repair and glycogen replenishment will be compromised.
What should you eat after the workout?
You should eat proteins and carbs.
As muscle protein is degraded as you exercise, you need to include proteins in your post-workout meal to help the muscle rebuild its structure. The rate of protein synthesis is decreased after exercise and the protein breakdown rate is increased.
You should eat between 0.15 – 0.25 g of protein per pound of body weight after your training. If you are overweight, then you your calculate how much protein you should eat using your target weight to create a small deficit.
Since liquid meals digest faster than solid ones, you could choose a protein powder you can mix with water and take to the gym with you and drink after your workout session. Other good protein sources are:
- Boiled eggs
- Cereals and low fat milk
- Protein bars
Carbs are just as important as protein for your post-training meal and play a key role in muscle recovery. They are used to restore muscle glycogen, so without carbs you may find yourself in the unpleasant situation that you body breaks down muscle tissue for fuel. Carbs also cause an insulin spike that will move nutrients into the muscle tissue faster.
You should consume between 0.25 – 0.4 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. Again, if you are overweight calculate this amount using your target body weight.
The post-workout meal is the one you shouldn’t worry about “good” or “bad” carbs, they both will do. In fact, good carbs are usually high in fibers that slow down digestion, so the simple or high glycemic carbs will work faster. The following foods are a good carbs diet after an intense workout:
- White potatoes
- White or brown rice
- Bananas and other goods
What shouldn’t you eat after a workout?
You definitely don’t want to eat fat after your workout. Fat is an important part in everyone’s diet, but this is one time you shouldn’t even think about eating it. Why? Because it slows down digestion and a post-workout meal is all about speed and how fast the proteins and carbs are processed and delivered to the muscles.
Hydration After Exercise
Staying well hydrated during and after your workout is very important. Water is the most important nutrient and has numerous important functions that are vital throughout your muscle building program such as regulating temperature, transporting nutrients and waste through the body and lubricating joints.
A proper hydration is essential for your comfort, performance and safety. The longer and more strenuous the exercises, the more important it is to drink the right king of fluids.
What you should do is weigh yourself before and after your workout, and replace fluid losses at the end of your training session. Drink 20 to 24 fl oz water for every 1 lb lost.
Post workout nutrition is just as important as the actual workout. You must be aware that after the effort you put in, you need to refuel with the right kind of stuff to make your muscles recover and grow.