WHAT TO EAT AFTER A WORKOUT
She’s already educated us on what we should eat before a workout (Missed it? You can catch up here.) And now, CORE+ Trainer and qualified nutritionist Rosalyn D’Angelo is back with a lesson in post-workout nutrition, along with some delicious meal and snack ideas…
You’ve just smashed your workout. The hard part is over! You’re sweaty and buzzing from those endorphins rushing around your body. Whether you feel immediately hungry or not, choosing the right foods after your workout will help your body recover, repair and adapt.
But firstly, why is this important?
When you exercise, especially during resistance training such as running, cycling, weight training or Pilates, you create teeny tiny tears in the muscle fibers. This is part of the reason we sometimes feel sore the next day after a hard session. Over the next few days, your body recovers by sending nutrients to the site to start the repair process.
Our bodies are very clever. Not only does your body start repairing those tiny tears, it recognises that to prevent this from happening again, it needs to rebuild the muscle as stronger. This is how our bodies improve, and adapt to exercise! To maximise this process, the right nutrients need to be present.
Ok, so what’s on the menu?
Firstly, you need to refuel and replenish what you’ve burned during your workout. You need to replace the glycogen that you have used up. This means your post-workout meal needs to have some sort of good quality carbohydrate – some great options are oats, sweet potato and fruit.
Secondly, the meal should contain a high-quality protein. Proteins are made up of amino acids, and these are the building blocks of our muscles. When your body is recovering and adapting, it uses amino acids to rebuild and grow. Some ideal protein sources include lean meats, skinless chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, legumes, lentils and dairy foods.
Thirdly, you need to rehydrate. When we exercise, we sweat to keep our body temperature stable. We need to replace that fluid we’ve lost, so make sure you keep sipping on water after your workout too!
Remember, foods are multidimensional. Yes, you’re getting carbohydrate from something like fruit, but you’re also getting fiber, antioxidants and essential micronutrients such as potassium, folate and Vitamin C. This is why we need to prioritise real foods over supplements.
Do I need to have a ‘post workout snacks’ straight after, or can I just wait until my next meal?
If you’re doing two training sessions per day or two sessions close together (e.g. night and morning after), you might need to be a little more proactive with nutrition. The body is most effective at replacing carbohydrate and promoting muscle repair and growth in the first 60-90 minutes after exercise, so if your sessions are close together, aim to eat within an hour of finishing to maximise recovery. In this instance, a snack might be required.
Your body will continue to recover for another 12-24 hours after exercise. So if you’re exercising once per day or a few times a week, you are likely going to meet your nutritional needs through your normal eating, as long as you’re getting a balanced healthy diet. In this case, extra snacks and eating within the hour are not necessarily required.
Our favourite post-workout meals
- Scrambled eggs on multigrain toast with sliced tomato
- Porridge with chopped banana and almonds
- Homemade banana and oat bread topped with ricotta
- Mexican burrito bowl made with beans
- Grilled chicken and roast winter veggies
- Brown rice salmon sushi
- Multigrain cheese/salad wrap or sandwich
And our favourite post-workout snack ideas
- Tuna and multigrain crackers
- Banana & mango smoothie
- Yoghurt and fresh fruit
Which go-to snack do you reach for after a workout? We’d love to hear it, so drop by the CORE+ Facebook page and let us know!