So what to eat immediately after your workout? The 30 minutes after you finish exercising (some say 20 minutes, 1 hour, or 2 hours after) have always been regarded as extremely important nutritionally. If you have been researching post-workout nutrition, you have probably read 20 different ideas so far. Everyone has a different story or theory. Some theories are backed up by scientific papers, others passed on by gym buddies.
I could share my theories (and I will), but first let me restate Fit Body Full Life’s mission statement: “Fit Body Full Life is dedicated to helping you live a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life through exercise, nutrition and lifestyle choices.” We are dedicated to helping you live a happier, healthier life. With this article, I want to make your life easier by simplifying this whole area.
Here are my simple rules for post-workout nutrition:
- Hydrate – Even if you don’t sweat that much, you will need to re-hydrate after exercising. This is kind of a no-brainer as you will no doubt be thirsty. Your body is telling you what it wants. I’ve said this a million times before – listen to your body!
- Micronutrients – Vitamins and minerals play essential roles in healthy bodily function. They make the small jobs we take for granted possible: absorption of other micro and macronutrients, energy production at a cellular level and delivery of nutrients around your body amongst many other jobs. Exercise will deplete your body’s supply of these little heroes. Time to replenish. Fruit is ideal here – a small mixed fruit salad if you can to supply a nice variety or, if not, a banana and a clementine fits in a gym bag mess free.
- Protein – This is something many exercisers can get obsessive about. I’ve seen guys drinking protein shakes before, during and after workouts, as they stretch off, in between sets and all sorts. The age-old myth (heavily pushed by supplement companies) of a “protein window” post workout where your body needs tons of protein is slowly dying out. Many research papers are now suggesting a time period of around 24 hours or even longer where the body’s demand for protein is higher. So chill … the protein can wait. That’s why it’s third on my list. Your body will need protein to recover and rebuild, but research suggests that a steady intake over the 24 hours post workout is optimal.
- Use common sense – If you had a peanut butter banana smoothie 30 minutes before your workout, you might not need much immediately after your workout. Your body probably still has a decent amount of all the good stuff in steps 1-3, so no need to overdo it. On the other hand, if your last meal was 3 hours before your workout you might not want to delay that post-workout snack too long to avoid your body cannibalizing itself.