Who doesn't love milk and cereal? We can't imagine anyone who wouldn't. The sad truth is that many of us tend to avoid cereal as we grow older for fear of empty calories, too much sugar, or even being perceived as too childlike, but we're proudly stating that this is one comfort food that is on our healthy list! Everyone is hungry after a workout. So when hunger hits you, why not put something in your belly that's not only going to fill you up but also aid in recovery and lean muscle growth?
Cereal gets a bad rep within the gluten, low-carb, and hidden-additive crowds, but if you're smart about your choices, you can have a great snack that could be the healthiest thing you eat all week. And science backs it!
Why Milk and Cereal?
Whole-grain cereal and skim milk combine to form a great source of carbs and protein, and that's exactly what your body needs after a workout. As you exercise, your glycogen (chemical form of carbohydrates) stores become depleted. Ingesting carbohydrates will replenish them. But that's not all your body needs after you work out! You need protein to build and repair the muscles you targeted. Getting enough protein after your workout will stimulate protein synthesis, which is the building of the new, toned muscle you've been working so hard for.
A recent study published in the Journal of Internal Sports Medicine made even further discoveries that support this. Researchers asked one group to have a sports drink after their workout, and another group had a bowl of whole-grain cereal and nonfat milk. The group that ate the milk and cereal had positive results in stimulating muscle recovery. In fact, the milk and cereal were superior to the sports drink in restocking the muscles' protein levels, which further fueled muscle recovery. All this for about 150 calories!
Timing is everything!
Typically, a post-workout recovery shake or meal should be eaten within an hour of finishing. But according to certified personal trainer Heather Neff, "The sooner you have your recovery meal, the better because your body just went through an enormous amount of stress and work and it is primed to accept protein and carbs to immediately put them to use." After having that meal, you're refueling with carbs and protein, enabling your body to replenish muscle glycogen that was depleted during your workout, and protein will go to your muscles and help them grow. This meal will also help rehydrate you, which is especially important after you train!
Go ahead and use it for pre-workout too!
For all the same reasons we need a post-workout recovery, we also need some pre-workout fuel. Typically a good mix of carbs and proteins will help you power through your workout, and milk and cereal can definitely do the trick. A bowl of milk and cereal eaten before your workout (about 60 minutes prior so you can digest and be at your peak for training) gives you everything you need. You might not want to be eating cereal that many times per day, but it's nice to know it's an option. Who are we kidding? Of course we want as many excuses to enjoy a bowl of cereal! Enjoy!