If you're hoping to lose weight or just like being active and staying in good shape, I've got some bad news for you: working out is only half the battle. In addition to exercising regularly, it's also important to eat the right things in order to stay healthy, especially right after your workouts. Believe it or not, eating the wrong things right after exercising can negate much of the good you do by exercising in the first place. I thought I'd share some of the tips I've picked up along the way for how to eat properly after a workout.
Give your body much needed protein to repair muscles
Protein is the most important thing to eat following a workout. Eating protein is the best way to put back into your body what you lost during your workout so that your muscles can recover. If you enjoy drinking protein shakes, doing so right after your workout is the ideal time. If you don't want to drink a shake, you're best off getting your protein from meat, fish, or eggs. A meal of grilled chicken with vegetables is a great option; it will fill you up and help you recover. An omelet is also a great choice, as any meal that includes eggs is great after a workout, especially if you throw vegetables and healthy meats into the omelet. If you prefer fish, salmon and tuna are both good sources of protein following a workout.
Consume carbohydrates to give your energy levels a boost
In addition to protein, you'll also want to consume carbohydrates when you're done exercising. In fact, immediately after a workout is the best time to eat carbs in general. Not consuming carbohydrates after a workout can actually be harmful for your muscles, so it's important to have some carbs after exercising. Eating a banana or two immediately after a workout may be the most efficient way to consume carbohydrates. Of course, if you're looking to eat a full meal, adding potatoes or rice to the meat, fish, or eggs you'll be eating for your protein is also a good way to get carbohydrates into your body.
Avoid eating pesky fats
Equally important to eating protein and carbs after a workout is avoiding fat as best you can. Eating fat will inhibit your body from consuming protein and carbohydrates properly, negating many of the benefits of your workout and potentially causing more harm than good. Any kind of fast food, pizza, sugary beverages like soda, or snacks that are high in salt should always be avoided after a workout.
Manage your portions appropriately
One more issue to be aware of is how much you should eat following a workout. This can be tricky, as it depends on how intense your workout was, how long it was, and whether or not you exercise on a regular basis. As you can imagine, longer and more intense workouts require you to consume more post workout. With more intense workouts you should always consume more carbohydrates afterwards compared to the amount of protein you eat. Also, if you exercise regularly, your body will require more carbohydrates after each workout than someone who only exercises once in a blue moon.
If you can, come up with a regular routine for what you eat following your workouts. This will take some trial and error, but eventually you should be able to fine one or two meals you like to eat that contain the right combination of protein and carbohydrates to give your body the support it needs after exercising. This will be key to eating to ensuring you that always eat properly after your workouts.