You’ve been spending hours working out in the gym, combining circuit training with high-intensity training. And you’ve been at it for months now. But why does it seem you’re not getting the results you want? Why aren’t you getting leaner and building more muscles? Maybe it’s your diet?
After a long, strenuous workout, what your muscles need is to repair and refuel so they can recover from all of the exertion they went through. And what do they need? REAL FOOD. Just make sure you know how to choose the right kind.
If you ask the experts, they would tell you that nutrition is the most important ingredient in achieving the body you want, even more important than the workout itself. You see, nutrition is part of the training program as opposed to what many people believe in. It’s not just an option nor an addition. It is, in fact, the most essential part.
So, what are the best post-workout snacks? When do you need it and when do you not? Find out here.
When You DON’T Need One
It’s not every time you stop exercising that you need to munch on something right away to aid your muscle repair. It varies on the kind of workout you’ve had and how long you’ve been at it for.
For example, you did just a casual walk for 30 minutes or did some light exercises that didn’t really elevate your heart rate, holding out until your next meal is perfectly fine. After these workouts, you don’t need to worry about snacking as often as possible.
When You DO Need One
Any intense activity like rowing, cycling, running, or a cross training workout would require some serious refuelling within 20 to 30 minutes post workout as that’s when the muscles get to absorb the glucose into the cells the most. Always keep something in your bag to snack on. An energy bar, a pice of fruit or some nuts can always come in handy for a quick fix.
If you’re one for morning workouts, a full breakfast is a must after your morning sweat routine. A good breakfast will keep you from unnecessary snacking and prevent you from binge eating on your next meal.
The Best Post-Workout Snacks
There are two key macronutrients your body needs for your muscles to grow: protein and carbohydrates. Determining how much of these macronutrients you need will depend on how intense your workout has been. Nevertheless, you will still need carbohydrates to refuel glycogen, a polysaccharide of glucose that provides energy to your muscles so it could move. Your muscles are always going to need it whatever exercise you do.
Ideally, you try to eat 0.5 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of your body weight within half an hour to an hour after exercising and add 1.5 grams per kilogram of your body weight within two hours. Best sources are bread, potatoes, rice, quinoa, oats and fruits. For protein, try to get 10 to 15 grams within one hour after exercise. The best sources of protein are eggs, milk, meat, seeds and nuts.
Some prefer to cut down on their calorie intake. If you’re planning to do so, stick to 500 for every meal and 200 for snacks. Take note that both protein and carbohydrates have four calories per gram. If you need something for grab-and-go, have a yogurt smoothie, some fruit or nuts.