Following the right diet after your workout can help to maximize results and meet your fitness goals
Eating the right foods and nutrients after your workout is just as important as what you eat pre-workout. The goal of the post-workout meal is to help you re-hydrate, build muscle, recover, improve future performance and give you the energy you need for the rest of your day.
When you exercise, your muscles use up their glycogen stores to fuel your workout. This results in partial depletion of glycogen in your muscles. After your workout, your body tries to replenish the lost glycogen stores, repairing and re-growing muscle proteins. You need to consume the right nutrients to help your body get this task done quicker.
Different food groups and nutrients that help your recovery after a workout are:
- Protein which builds and repairs muscle
- Carbohydrates to recover
- Electrolytes for muscle recovery
- Water to re-hydrate
It’s not only what you eat that’s important after your workout, but when. Several researchers refer to post-workout nutrition as the “anabolic window of opportunity”. After exercise, you have an increase in insulin sensitivity and blood flow, this enhances your body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein.
It’s suggested your body needs the most nutrients the hour immediately after you exercise. Therefore, eating the right foods during this time helps to refuel and repair tissue. It’s recommended that you consume a combination of protein and carbohydrates after your workout. Research has shown that if you consumed a meal before exercising, it’s likely the same benefits still apply after training.
Protein is crucial in maintaining and building muscles and finding the right plant-based protein sources is easier than you think. Following a vegan diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts is often associated with higher energy levels and healthier gut health. The digestive system is essential for energy and cell repair. Animal based proteins are particularly difficult to digest requiring more pancreatic enzyme secretion, stomach acid secretion and bile synthesis.
Whereas, plant-based protein is naturally much easier to digest and break down in your body. This means your digestive system doesn’t have to go through the added stress of exerting unnecessary energy.
One study showed that high animal protein intake was associated with cardiovascular mortality. However, plant-based protein was inversely associated with cardiovascular mortality. A recent study found that it takes just one vegan meal for people to see the benefits such as improved weight and balanced blood sugar.
Proper post workout nutrition fuels your body and can have the following benefits:
- Improve performance
- Fewer injuries
- Increase reaction time
- Speed up and improve recovery
- Boost endurance and strength
- Increase muscle power
Is Your Post Workout Nutrition Boosting Your Performance?
Protein Builds and Repairs Muscle
Contrary to popular belief, eating a vegan diet doesn’t make it difficult to get enough protein. As long as you eat the right foods, you can see results on a plant-based diet. It’s important to be conscious of your protein intake to ensure you’re meeting your minimum protein requirements after a workout.
Exercise starts to break down muscle protein. The rate at which this happens is dependent on your level of training. One study recommends consuming 0.14-0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight soon after a workout. It’s also been found that 20-40 grams of protein can maximize the body’s ability to recover post-exercise.
You can find protein in a number of plant-based sources such as:
- Lentils and beans
- Tofu, tempeh and edamame
- Hemp seeds
If you’re looking for some inspiration, this green smoothie will help to recharge your muscles after a workout.
Many plant-based athletes not only maintain their muscle and performance results but build and improve them. Incorporating a vegan protein powder into your exercise regime is a great way to meet daily protein intake requirements. Making a delicious smoothie packed with protein is an easy and convenient way to keep on track of your nutrient intake and build muscle on a vegan diet.
Carbohydrates Help You to Recover
It’s important to eat both protein and carbohydrates after you exercise. Carbohydrates help to replenish your fuel store and help your muscles to absorb amino acids from protein. Insulin secretion, which encourages glycogen synthesis, increases when both protein and carbohydrates are consumed at the same time.
After an intense workout session, aim to eat a snack or meal with a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. The rate at which you burn through your glycogen stores will depend on the activity you do. Therefore, if you’re a runner or swimmer, you might need to consume more carbohydrates.
Good sources of carbohydrates are sweet potato or squash as well as beets, bananas and vegetables. If you’re following a keto diet then a handful of berries or apple is a great snack to reach for. It’s important to find the best post-workout foods that work for your diet and lifestyle.
Electrolytes for Muscle Recovery
Sweating is often a sign of an intense workout but it’s also your cue to replenish lost electrolytes. An average person can sweat between 0.8 to 1.4 liters per hour of exercise. Replenishing electrolytes lost during exercise is crucial to recovery. Chloride, magnesium, potassium, and sodium are all vital for muscle contractions and nerve function.
One way to supercharge your electrolytes is to use Sunwarrior’s Liquid Light. The plant-based fulvic acid mineral complex provides many essential minerals, trace minerals, and electrolytes. Fulvic acid is a natural compound that helps in the assimilation of other nutrients. It’s perfect for before, during or after your workout and can be taken straight or mixed in a beverage like a smoothie or fresh juice.
There are a few things you can do to encourage your recovery after a workout and keep you fit and healthy.
Water to Rehydrate
Water is a critical nutrient for your health not just during your workout. Sweating during exercise causes you to lose water as well as electrolytes. Replenishing both of these can help with performance and recovery. You should aim to re-hydrate the fluids you lost during exercise.
Everyone’s post-workout nutrition needs will be different depending on the type of exercise you do, your body and your overall health and fitness goals. Maximize your fitness and performance with the right nutrition and see the best results.