Just as you choose certain exercises to work out your muscles, you must choose post-workout food to recover those sore muscles. There is a wide range of some of the best after-workout foods that you can include in your daily meal in order to heal the muscles you work out every day. Because it's only true when people say, 'you are what you eat. So make sure you pick on the right food after a workout to give your body a good boost in recovery.
Why is it Important to Eat Post Working Out?
It is extremely important to indulge in after-workout food as it helps your muscles heal well and replace their glycogen (1) stores. You need to consume a meal that is loaded with protein and carbohydrates within two hours of exercising to get the full benefit from the food. Good post-workout food doesn't have to be complicated. It can simply be yogurt and some fruits or any of the foods mentioned in the list below.
9 Post-Workout Food to Eat:
This list consists of some of the best after-workout foods that take little to no preparation to cook in order to consume them within two hours of working out.
1. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is packed with two types of protein - casein and whey. Casein (2) is a slower-acting protein as compared to whey protein and so, it makes cottage cheese the ideal food to eat after a workout to heal your muscles. It is also high in live cultures, which are good bacteria that aid in breaking down and absorbing all the nutrients that help you get stronger and bigger. You can eat cottage cheese as is or top it up with fruits for snacking on it.
An after-workout food that is quite famous for being an antioxidant powerhouse is spinach. It can not only prevent cancer and heart disease but also help your body heal from excessive after-workout muscle pain. In fact, spinach makes for the perfect diet staple as it can improve your health and strengthen your muscles as it is loaded with magnesium that maintains your muscles as well as nerve function while regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.
3. Sweet Potato
An easy post-workout food that you can consume on a daily basis is sweet potato. This starchy vegetable is packed with beta carotene and vitamin C that keep your body healthy and strong. You can conveniently bake them on the grill or cook them in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and some herbs.
One of the best foods after the workout has to be salmon as it is made of omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein that help your sore muscles feel better. Cook up some salmon for lunch or dinner and make sure you eat this protein-rich food within 45 minutes of your daily workout to recover and strengthen your body.
5. Nuts and Seeds
You can easily munch on some nuts and seeds as they can provide your body with omega-3 fatty acids that can fight inflammation. The protein in nuts and seeds helps your muscles heal and the electrolytes in them provide you with hydration along with zinc that can boost your immunity.
Banana is not only food to eat after a workout but also something that works amazingly before a workout. It's filled with complex carbs and minerals like fiber and potassium (3). You can eat close to three bananas a day, especially in summer as they can decrease inflammation and reload your muscle glycogen stores that give you a quicker recovery.
7. Vegetables and Hummus
Another best after-workout foods that you can easily prepare are veggies and hummus. You can prepare hummus with chickpeas as they are packed with protein that can help you heal sore muscles post a good workout session. You can chop some veggie sticks like carrots, cucumbers, etc. to pair with the delicious hummus.
Chicken can also serve as the best food after a workout as it provides your body with lean protein to aid muscle recovery (4). It has fewer calories and less saturated fat as compared to proteins like pork and beef. Make sure you prepare chicken before your workout as it's easier to consume it quickly post your session.
Quinoa is one of the best choices as it is a complex whole grain that can provide your body with carbohydrates and proteins post a workout. Quinoa is gluten-free and so it can serve well for people who are intolerant to gluten or have celiac disease. Prepare a bowl of quinoa with chicken or fish or fruits like avocado to give your body an additional boost of nutrients.
Food after a workout is as important as food before one. And so, you must always prepare a snack or a meal ahead of time that you can consume right after you finish exercising for the day. Now that you have some knowledge of all the kinds of foods that you can eat post a great workout session, it will only make your body stronger and life healthier.
Is there anything I should avoid eating after a workout?
You should avoid foods that are loaded with sugar like candies, cookies, etc. and foods that are mostly fried like chips and other things.
If I don't eat after a workout, what happens?
If you avoid eating after workouts your body can feel serious dehydration and hypoglycemia which can make you feel disoriented or you can even pass out quite easily. In some cases, a lack of electrolytes in your body due to no food post-workout can lead to an irregular heartbeat.
Does pre-workout food differ for morning and evening workouts?
No, pre-workout food doesn't differ greatly for morning than evening workouts. Any food that is packed with essential nutrients, protein, and fiber can work phenomenally before working out in the morning or evening.
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