What should you eat after a workout? | Exercise.com Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

What should you eat after a workout?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • When you are finished working out, you should make a point of eating protein to help your body recover from the strain you have put on it through exercise.
  • Carbohydrates should also be part of your post-workout meal.
  • The sooner you eat following your workout, the better.

Good nutrition and regular exercise are important components in getting and staying fit. What you eat every day is important, and it’s important to give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. So it’s also important to nourish your body after an intense exercise routine.

While you are at the gym, you want to make sure your body stays well hydrated. Be sure to take a bottle of water with you and drink regularly during your routine. Don’t wait until you are feeling thirsty to do so; at that point, you are already slightly dehydrated.

When you are finished working out, you should make a point of eating protein to help your body recover from the strain you have put on it through exercise. When you push your muscles to perform at a higher level, they need this ingredient to grow and build strength.

Carbohydrates should also be part of your post-workout meal. They have gotten a bad reputation recently, but they are an important part of maintaining muscle health. After exercise, your body needs the increased insulin that is produced when you eat this type of food to make sure your muscles receive the nutrition they need quickly.

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Why Should I Eat Protein After a Workout?

After exercise, it’s important for your body to get the protein it needs quickly. Instead of eating foods like chicken, tuna or egg whites, a better choice is to consume whey protein powder. An easy and convenient way for you to get the nutrition you need is to mix the powder with a liquid to make a protein shake.

Not only is a protein shake easy to digest, but if you choose to make one with whey protein, you are using a product that can provide your body with the nutrition it needs quickly. The right amount of whey protein powder to use depends on your weight, so be sure to read the product label to make sure that you are taking the recommended amount.

As a general guide, the right dosage is 0.15-0.25 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. A person who weighs 175 lb. should use approximately 26-43 grams of the protein.

The advantage to consuming a protein shake after a workout is that you can prepare it and put in a Thermos before you start exercising. That way, it’s ready to go when you are finished.

Why Should I Eat Carbohydrates After a Workout?

Post-workout, look for carbohydrates that your body can digest quickly. A baked potato is a great choice for this purpose. You will want to eat 0.25-0.4 grams of carbohydrates per pound after you have finished your workout. This is not the time to eat things like brown rice or whole-grain bread; instead, go for sources of carbohydrates that you would normally skip like pasta or white rice.

The idea at this time is to get dextrose (a form of sugar) to your bloodstream and muscles quickly. Your muscles need this substance without delay.

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How Soon Should I Eat After a Workout?

The sooner you eat following your workout, the better. Plan to eat within an hour after working out if you can to give your body the nutrition it needs to start rebuilding muscle.

You may find that you are really hungry following your workout, and you want to be sure that the calories you are ingesting are less likely to be stored as fat. If you aren’t sure how much to eat after you exercise, try to ingest about half the number of calories you burned while exercising.

One good thing about using the cardio exercise machines at the gym is that they can help you calculate the number of calories burned, based on your current weight and the intensity and length of your effort. You can also purchase home devices like heart rate monitors that also calculate calories burned.

Enjoy a small number of processed foods shortly after your workout, and then go back to whole grains most of the time. You can even look forward to eating something that you normally wouldn’t as a treat if you like.

When you are thinking about what you should eat after a workout, plan to consume some protein and carbohydrates shortly after you have finished exercising. You should also be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, starting before you exercise. Be sure to drink water as part of your post-workout meal as well.

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