Heading to the gym for a good workout? Although your goals are set for the planned workout, are you aware of the other elements playing a role in your fitness journey, with food playing a key role? Working out and eating together helps shape a healthier version of yourself. Pre- and post-workout meals need to be planned wisely so that you get the most out of your calorie-burning effort. In this article, the focus is on getting the right nutrients after a workout and how you can improve your post-workout meal.
Why can you be hungry after a gym session?
To help you get the right nutrients after a workout, let us first understand why you feel hungry after a rewarding gym session.
- Endurance exercises consume the glycogen stored in the muscles and the reduction can make you hungry.
- “Hunger hormones” or ghrelin are released during exercise, which can make you feel hungry.
- Exercise also results in the release of endorphins which makes you prone to hunger as your body is calm and stress free.
- During exercise, your energy expenditure increases, leading to hunger. So, if you train on an empty stomach, you feel hungry because the body is looking for substitute energy to replace the calories burned during a workout.
How does the post-workout meal help?
Carbohydrates after your workout help restore stored glycogen in the muscles. Additionally, a post-workout meal helps reduce muscle protein breakdown resulting from exercise. So post-workout protein helps repair and rebuild tissue that’s broken down during exercise and contributes to better muscle growth and strength.
Plan your post-workout meal properly!
A post-workout meal that maintains the balance of carbohydrates and proteins aids in healthy recovery which also supports your performance in future workouts.
To optimize your post-workout meal, a good rule to follow is to eat in the proportion that for 1 g of protein, you eat 4 grams of carbohydrates. Additionally, including foods high in healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant-rich foods as post-workout meals will help reduce muscle cramps and inflammation.
It is advisable to eat whole foods that aid digestion and are rich in nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. With these foods, the body receives nutrients that help it recover and become stronger. Some of the great post-workout meals include egg omelet with avocado, oatmeal with banana, almonds, whey protein, cottage cheese, quinoa with sweet potato, Greek yogurt, granola, etc.
While a post-workout meal is important, equally vital is post-workout meal time. Your body absorbs most nutrients immediately after exercise. So ideally a post-workout meal should be eaten within 30 minutes to an hour after your workout.
What not to eat after training?
While eating post-workout meals is a must, there are certain foods that are a big NO post-workout because eating those foods will cause the essence of a workout to be lost in the first place. These include:
- Foods high in fat as they slow down the process of nutrient absorption, thus delaying recovery
- Processed foods as they are loaded with preservatives and contain a high amount of sugar
- Alcohol because they dehydrate the body
Finally, always remember that it’s completely normal to feel hungry after a good gym session. What’s important is that you eat within half an hour to an hour of exercise and eat a balanced meal that will help replenish glycogen, repair muscle tissue and give the body the right nutrients to that he recovers correctly. Plus, stay hydrated by drinking enough water before, during, and after your workout.
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