Eat a Good Post-Workout Meal

The snack or meal you have after your workout is the most important of the day, as it provides the fuel your body needs to maximize the time and energy you put into your routine. Equally important, it helps deliver important nutrients to your muscles. Your post-workout meal should contain the following:

1. A lean complete protein, such as chicken, fish or whey protein

2. Only a little fat (preferably unsaturated)

3. A complex carbohydrate, such as fruit, oatmeal, rice cakes, potatoes, etc. – preferably one that is “natural,” not processed.

Why lean protein? During a brief window of opportunity after your workout, protein synthesis occurs at the highest rate. This is due to the micro-trauma (broken-down muscle tissue) that occurred during the workout session. Complete recovery can only take place if you provide your muscles with a large supply of amino acids from protein foods or supplements within 60-90 minutes after the workout, then every three waking hours thereafter until complete recovery is achieved. Whey protein is the very best post-workout food because it is so rapidly absorbed, and it has the highest efficiency ratio, or availability to the body, of all the protein sources.

Why only a little fat? When choosing a post-workout protein source, you should select one that is relatively low in fat, i.e., less than 10 grams per serving for most people. This is not the best time for a big steak or other high-fat, protein-rich food. Fat slows the absorption of the protein and the carbs.

Why complex carbohydrates? During your training session, you deplete your muscle glycogen (stored carbohydrates) and you must replenish it promptly for complete recovery and to ensure that you are supplied with energy for the next training session or activity. Complex, natural carbs such as brown rice, potatoes, rice cakes, yams, oatmeal, fruit, etc., are good choices for after your workout.