With all the new diet trends claiming optimal health: Keto diet, Paleo diet, Atkins diet; figuring out what to eat after a workout may get you wondering. Should you take in just fat by eating 10 avocados and downing a tablespoon of olive oil as the Keto diet suggests, or should you listen to the suggestions of the paleo diet – veggies and a good old steak? What about just protein, or just carbohydrates? To truly understand what to eat after a workout, let’s investigate resources associated with exercise.
Glycogen or stored carbohydrates is the body’s preferred resource for strenuous activities because glucose is used immediately as fuel. During strenuous workouts, our body uses up whatever glucose is in our bloodstream and obtains extra fuel from rapidly converting glycogen into glucose to meet the demands of strenuous movements. Therefore, carbohydrates are the recommended post-workout resource for those who are into building muscle and exercising moderately intense daily. Post-workout, our body depletes its glycogen storage. Because our brain and organs use glucose as our primary source of fuel, you need to replenish your glycogen storage to avoid negative consequences from depleted glycogen such as fatigue, disrupted mood, and detrimental effects on performance in the near future, and even muscle atrophy. An average person is able to hold about 350-500 grams of carbohydrates in their muscles. Studies show that you can restore your glycogen level by eating 1 to 3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. The best time to take in carbohydrates is within 2 hours after you work out because this is the time frame the body efficiently replenishes its glycogen storage, and the sooner the better.
Exerting maximum effort during a workout is necessary to get stronger; however, you can’t just do this and expect to get stronger. You need to pair up your effort with a resource that heals your muscles after you tear them from your arduous effort. That’s where proteins, more specifically amino acids, come into the picture. Protein is essential for muscle growth because they contain amino acids which are the primary builders and repairers of muscle tissue. After a workout, tiny micro-rips occur in your muscle tissues and amino acids target and heal these ripped areas to produce stronger and bigger muscles. If you’re wondering, BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) are the specific amino acids that repair ripped muscle tissue. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends .5 to .8 grams per pound of body weight of protein for prime muscle recovery. For maximum recovery, taking in protein with carbohydrates in the 2-hour window frame is best because the effectiveness of protein is dependent on your glycogen storage level.
Fats have huge benefits for the human brain and human body. Our brain needs fat to maintain its normal level of 60% fat to function properly and fat provides benefits for the immune system for proper hormone production. Protective layers around our neurons are made of fat, which are responsible for efficient electrical signal transfer to other neurons, fats increase production of acetylcholine which is linked with improved learning, and fats regulate hormone balance for our bodies to function properly. In other words, taking in fat is important. However, you don’t need to worry about fat intake after your workouts because fats don’t play a crucial role in post-recovery.
Ideal Post-Workout foods:
Carbohydrates: your body is highly receptive to carbohydrates right after working out; therefore, you want carbohydrates that spikes your insulin and sends a surge of sugar into your bloodstream. In other words, eat food that quickly provides glucose to your body. These foods are termed as high glycemic indexed food.
- Some of them are:- Corn, white rice, baked potato, instant oatmeal, and some fruits such as: pineapple, watermelon, and cantaloupe
- Proteins with BCAA amino acids:- Whey Protein, Milk Protein, Beef ,Chicken, Fish, Soy Protein, Eggs, Baked beans, Almonds.
Last parting info:
Our body can use fat and protein as a source of energy and you can train your body to use fat and protein as its primary source of fuel however it’s less efficient because the body has to convert fat into glucose before it can utilize glucose as fuel. Compare this with immediately using available glucose as fuel. Nearly all athletes prefer a high carb diet for maximum performance and results because they report less feeling of fatigue, more energy, and high levels of performance when they utilize glucose as the body’s primary source of fuel, which implicates the superiority of a high carbohydrate diet and as a post-workout meal.
Although carbohydrates are the preferred choice of fuel for athletes, feel free to try other sources of fuel. People on certain diets cause adaptations in their body that efficiently utilize fat and protein as a source of fuel. People may do this even though they are aware that glucose is the body’s preferred source of fuel for cognitive reasons, weight-loss, and to regulate mood. Feel free to try another resource as your primary source of fuel and see its effect on your performance, mood, and energy level. Carbohydrates is likely for you if you everyday, but just maybe a high protein or fat diet may be as beneficial for you.