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What and when to eat to maximize your post-workout routine

September 25, 2017

Whether you’re exercising to get fit, lose weight or build muscle, your post-workout routine is vital to repairing muscles and stabilizing blood sugar. Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) Health Fitness Specialist Robby Heimann works at the NCH Wellness Center, where he assists members with various fitness goals, including post-workout nutrition. He says what you eat and when you eat are equally important.

“Some of the benefits from proper post-workout nutrition are decreased muscle soreness, increased ability to build muscle, as well as improved recovery, immune function, bone mass and ability to use body fat as energy,” Heimann says.

What to eat

Consuming protein after a workout is one of the best ways to repair muscle tissue. Consuming carbohydrates post-workout helps replace muscle glycogen (e.g., the primary fuel your muscles use for energy production).

Great sources of protein:

  • Protein powders
  • Bars
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Tuna
  • Lean red meat

Great sources of carbohydrates:

  • Sweet potatoes/white potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Fruit
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta
  • Rice cakes

When to eat it

“After a workout, your muscles are ready to take in all the nutrients that can stimulate muscle repair,” Heimann says. But don’t be fooled by the myth that you need to eat something the minute you drop your last dumbbell. The post-workout window lasts 48 hours. The sooner you can eat, the better.

“If you don’t give yourself adequate post-workout nutrition quick enough, you decrease protein synthesis,” Heimann says.

On, protein synthesis is explained in depth in an article by Stephanie Crumley Hill.

“Muscles grow through protein synthesis,” writes Hill. “Despite what supplement companies will tell you, there is no magic formula that will supersede the basic science of protein synthesis. Once you understand how protein synthesis creates muscle growth, you can achieve your athletic goals, whether they are bodybuilding or fitness.”

The amount of protein and carbohydrates you consume will depend on your fitness goals.

“If you’re looking to increase muscle mass, you are going to want a larger meal compared to someone who is looking to lose body fat,” Heimann says.

Here are Heimann’s recommendations for meals that combine protein-rich and carb-rich foods:

  • Grilled chicken with sweet potatoes
  • Oatmeal and whey protein
  • Rice cakes and peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt and berries
  • Eggs with avocado on toast

Get to it!
Take your workout to the next level at the NCH Wellness Center. Construction begins October 1 on a newly designed, 5,000-square-foot functional training space which will include 100 new pieces of state-of-the-art cardio and strength equipment. For more information, call 847-618-3500.