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What to Eat After a Workout: The Noteworthy Guide

We all know how important exercise is for maintaining a well-balanced lifestyle. Perhaps equally important is the way you replenish your body afterwards. So Flo has created a handy guide on what to eat after a workout.

A man and woman eating after a workout

Why eating after a workout is important 

When you exercise, your body uses a great deal of energy in a process commonly referred to as “burning calories.” Calories come from the foods and drinks we consume each day. The sugars and starches they contain are carbohydrates that your body breaks down into glucose. Glucose then becomes your body’s immediate source of fuel, powering functions like breathing and physical activity.

Any unused glucose is sent to your liver and muscles where it’s stored as glycogen. During a workout, your muscles draw on these glycogen reserves to help you do everything from lift weights to go for a quick run

Here’s why post-workout meals are essential: 

  • Your body needs fuel to repair and rebuild the muscle tissue that was used and/or damaged.
  • You can prevent physical fatigue and keep your mind alert for the rest of the day.
  • You’ll experience less muscle soreness and be able to maintain a regular exercise regimen without strain or injury. 

An intense workout can potentially burn 1,000 calories or more. Those lost calories must be replenished with nutritious food if you want to increase muscle mass or keep your weight in check.

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When to eat after a workout

Following a not-so-strenuous workout such as a light yoga class, it’s probably unnecessary to eat immediately. But after a moderate to high-intensity session, you’ll want at least a small snack within 15 to 30 minutes. For optimal benefits, be sure to enjoy a full meal no more than two hours after exercising.

Once you’ve decided on when to eat your post-workout meal, you can then determine what you should be eating. Try to stick to foods that contain lean proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. 

What to eat after a workout 

Post-workout meals

Post-workout meals should always include high-quality proteins and nutrient-rich carbohydrates. Opt for light, healthy options throughout the day.

  • Breakfast: oatmeal with sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, and a side of fresh fruit
  • Lunch: tuna nicoise salad with hardboiled eggs and chickpeas, topped with tomatoes, olives, and cucumbers
  • Dinner: chicken breast with steamed vegetables on a bed of quinoa

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can still treat yourself to a wholesome, after workout meal free of meat, cheese, or eggs. Veggies and whole grains contain plenty of healthy carbs, while lentils, beans, chickpeas, hemp seeds, and soybeans are great sources of protein. 

Smoothie - a great post-workout snack

Need a quick pick-me-up before your next meal? There are countless, guilt-free snacks that you can enjoy on the go:

  • A half-cup of plain Greek yogurt packs a double punch of protein and calcium
  • One banana offers enough carbs and potassium to aid in muscle repair
  • A handful of mixed nuts including almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are loaded with fiber to keep you feeling fuller longer
  • A smoothie made of spinach, banana, and a scoop of your favorite protein powder helps rehydrate your body

Remember, eating after exercise doesn’t need to be complicated. Even pro basketball players have been known to munch on a good, old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich following a big game!

More tips on post-workout nutrition

If you’ve just had an intense, muscle-building workout that involved strength training or weight lifting (both of which combat cellulite), you’ll want a high-protein snack to tide you over. 

But how much protein is enough? A good rule of thumb for consuming protein after a workout is 1 gram of protein for every 3 grams of carbohydrates per meal. 

Also remember to:

The bottom line is that exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand when it comes to leading an active and healthy lifestyle. Check out Flo for more useful tips on the subject, as well as suggestions for modifying your routine when you’re pregnant or on your period

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/03/25/521256918/the-pregame-pb-j-how-the-comfort-food-became-the-nbas-recipe-for-success

https://www.foodnetwork.ca/healthy-eating/photos/best-foods-to-eat-after-workout/#!sweet-potato-toast-recipe

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-get-a-ton-of-protein-without-eating-meat

https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/g25904301/best-post-workout-snacks/

https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/a20508953/the-7-biggest-eating-mistakes-you-make-after-exercise/

https://www.eatthis.com/what-trainers-eat-after-a-workout/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eat-after-workout#section3

https://www.self.com/story/this-is-what-happens-when-you-dont-eat-after-a-workout

https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/question670.htm

https://www.livestrong.com/article/437419-how-long-after-i-work-out-should-i-eat/

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