Eating after a workout should never be optional; in fact, it's almost as important as the workout itself. Here's why you should always grab a post-workout snack, the best time to eat it, and the perfect recovery snacks that make the cut.
Why You Should Eat After a Workout
Chowing down after a workout is a no-brainer if you're famished after an exhausting session, but sometimes, you just don't feel hungry once you've finished a hard sweat session (this is especially true the more you work out). If you're ever tempted to skip out on your snack, it's important to remember why eating after training is so important. After a grueling session, your body needs to replenish its depleted stores of glycogen, electrolytes, and fluids. It also needs to repair damaged muscle tissue and build new tissue for a toned, strong body. This is where your post-workout snack or meal comes in.
When Should You Eat?
Replenishing your body's energy stores should be one of your first priorities once you've finished your workout. That's because timing is everything; you'll recover faster and build more metabolism-boosting muscle if you eat a snack within 15 minutes to an hour of your workout to ensure your body has what it needs to restore energy levels. Even better, eating the right snack immediately after exercise means that you're not canceling out your workout — instead of storing the calories as fat, you'll be replenishing lost energy stores and rebuilding muscle. More muscle equals more calories burned, so make it a point to eat your snack within two hours and have a larger meal afterward.
What Should You Eat?
The license to eat after you exercise is not a cue to dig into a piece of chocolate cake on your way back from the gym. If you're exercising to maintain or lose weight, you'll need to be careful about your post-workout snack calories. The wrong post-workout snack — like a high-calorie option or a sports drink after a normal-length workout — will just add unwanted calories to your day. Instead, go for a snack that's under 150 calories and that has 10 to 20 grams of protein and 30 to 40 grams of carbohydrates if you've been working out for an hour or more. If your workout was just a quick session, recovery becomes less important. Either way, if you can't stomach eating a snack, choose a high-quality protein recovery drink instead.
Here are some great ideas for a post-workout snack:
- Post-workout snacks under 150 calories
- Protein-rich snacks that fuel an afterburn
- The perfect workout recovery drink