After doing a workout, your body will need to recover and rebuild, however, keep in mind that this process takes place 24 hours a day, not only after working out. Calories eaten after a workout are less likely to be stored as fat because they are used to replenish the glycogen lost during activity.
Glycogen is a polysaccharide molecule stored in our muscle cells along with water and used as a source of energy. When broken down in the body, glycogen is transformed into glucose, also called carbohydrates, an important source of energy. During exercise your muscles go through stress depending on the intensity of the workout and are in need of tissue repair. In this case amino acids, which are found in proteins are needed to help rebuild and repair your muscles. Therefore, timely prepared snacks pre/post exercise is recommended to help refuel, burn fat and build muscle.
It is important to be aware of the time of day you plan to workout so that your intake of carbohydrates and proteins are enough to replenish your system. For example, if you workout right before breakfast, lunch or dinner, be sure to replenish with a full meal. If you workout between meal times have a snack with 150-300 calories to help replenish your system until it is time for your full meal.
To get the most benefit from your food after a workout, you must eat within a certain time frame. Your body will absorb most nutrients 30 mins-1 hour after your workout has ended. Waiting long than 1 hour to eat after a workout can cause you to feel slower or fatigued during your next workout session due to the fact that it has taken longer to restore the glycogen levels in your body.
To be able to rebuild muscles and restore energy after working out, eating foods that are high in healthy carbohydrates with a small portion of protein is the best mix. The recommended ratio is 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrates to proteins. Or you can follow the idea that 60% of the calories consumed should come from carbohydrates and roughly 25% of the calories from proteins.
Keep these numbers in mind when you need to refuel after a workout and you should be in good shape. However, be aware not to overindulge. If you do, the excess calories will be stored as fat.
Here are a few great pre-workout snacks/meals that you could use to help get you geared up and ready to go.
- Oats – ½ cup cooked steel cut oats mixed with 1 tablespoon of dried fruit topped with 1 tablespoon of shaved almonds.
- Yogurt and berries – 1cup coconut milk yogurt with ½ cup fresh blueberries (you can use other berries as well).
- Fruit Shake – 1 cup frozen berries, 1 scoop of a plant based protein i.e. Biosteel Vegan Protein and ½ cup of ice.
- Almond apple – 1 medium apple sliced with all natural almond butter for dipping.
- Turkey and Pasta – ½ cup of cooked gluten free pasta with 3-4 slices of avocado and add 2-4 ounces of roasted turkey.
For a good post-workout snack/meal, here are a few suggestions.
- Green Smoothie – blend 4 cups of spinach, 1 cup almond milk, 1 tablespoon of almond butter, ½ cup of coconut milk yogurt with ice.
- Rice Cakes – spread natural almond butter over a brown rice cake and add raisins as your topping.
- Omelet – 4 egg whites and ¼ cup of canned black beans, topped with salsa if you wish.
- Pita and hummus – that’s it!
- Chicken Mix – ½ cup butternut squash and apples, 1 cup cooked diced chicken, roasted in olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
These are some basic ideas to get you started. Be smart with your refueling choices and remember the carbohydrate to protein ratio.
Have fun and enjoy your workout!