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What To Eat After Exercise or Workout?

July 15th, 2008 · 21 Comments ·
 
 

 

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In my earlier article of Should We Eat After Workout, we learn that it is important to eat after workout. But, what should we eat?

Wait, before taking any food, remember to drink enough water after your exercise. Drink water, juice, or carbohydrate rich sports drinks to replace what you sweat out.

If you are a competitive athlete, what you eat after a workout is very important. If you are a recreational exerciser and work out two to three times a week, you need not worry as much about post-exercise foods because your body will have enough time between workouts to recover.

Now, depending on your exercise, what you eat will be different.

  • If you just completed a cardiovascular exercise, you should consume fibrous carbohydrate. A good post cardio food include fruit salad, yogurt, brown rice, oatmeal, cereal, toast and all natural peanut butter.

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  • As for resistance or weight training, after the workout, I suggest that you to take combination of protein and carbohydrates. After the training, the muscle tissue will be “torn”. Therefore, we need protein to build and repair these tears so the muscle increases in strength and density.
    • What is the role of carbohydrates then? Many believe that carbs will make them fat. Not really in this case. We need the carbohydrates to help get the protein into our muscle cells. If your post workout meal does not contain carbs, muscle tissue may be broken down to achieve this purpose.
    • Carbs also create an insulin spike which helps to move nutrients into your muscle tissue quicker.
    • Some post weight training meal includes potato and chicken or fish, a protein shake with a banana, or oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder, egg whites and toast, or some kind of lean quality protein between two slices of whole grain bread.

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  • For those who can afford for supplement, whey protein is proven to be very effective. It has been proven to get into muscle cells faster than any other protein source. While egg whites, chicken or tuna fish are fine sources of protein that I personally eat daily, I have to admit that they are not the ideal type of protein for the meal after your workout. Protein in whole foods is digested pretty slowly. So, by the time the protein is digested, much time may have been passed. Currently, I do not take supplement, but will consider doing so in near future. If that happens, I shall share with you what works best for me.

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  • Avoid fat if possible. Fat slows down digestion of protein and carbs. So, taking oily food will defeat the purpose.
  • Last advice – experiment with the amount of food or drink and with the proportions of carbs, protein and fat to find out what works best for you.

In a nutshell, what to eat and how much to eat depends on your workout intensity and duration. A person who does only 15 minutes of brisk walk should definitely not eating the same as an athlete who does an hour of weight training in the gym. Also, knowing what to eat will help you to plan what to prepare for post-workout meal ahead of time.

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Category: Nutrition


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21 responses so far ↓
  • Angie Tan // Jul 15, 2008 at 1:32 AM

    Great post!!

    My trainer advised me to take more fibre after a good workout and of course, if I need some good protein, a good source of lean protein cooked in a healthy manner of course. :-)

    Guess that if you do feel that you need a bit of food before you start your workout, it’ll be good to take a bit of fruit or healthy carbs 2 hours before you start working out?

    I’ve worked out without taking enough fluids before my workout and it was torture! I was really exhausted and felt really tired to completing my session. :-( From that day onwards, I knew that if I had to work out that day, I need to be a little bit more hydrated than usual…

  • Erick // Jul 15, 2008 at 8:39 AM

    I need some help, what happens if I like to workout at night, the post suggest I should eat something light after workout, but I also heard that I shouldn’t eat anything 4 hours before going to bed,

  • kate // Jul 15, 2008 at 9:58 AM

    Thanks for the info. I’m only doing cardio – rpm, body attack & step – 3 times a week. About an hour each time. Just to stay fit and lose a couple of kilos. So i’m often wondering what shall i eat after a good 1 hour of cardio & copious sweating. This post has made things clearer for me. Thanks, Mun.

  • howshouse // Jul 15, 2008 at 10:16 AM

    great article. it’s really informative. thanks!

  • foongpc // Jul 15, 2008 at 11:22 AM

    Oh yes, totally agree on the whey protein supplement. It does get the protein into the muscle cells faster because no need to digest long unlike normal protein rich food like eggs and chicken. I think if there’s only one supplement you can afford, whey protein is it. Besides, of course the multivitamins and minerals.

  • Zandria // Jul 15, 2008 at 10:45 PM

    I always keep a big 5-gallon container of whey protein in my kitchen and make myself a shake as soon as I get home from weight-training at the gym. It’s very important to repair our muscles and prepare them for the next workout. Great post, Mun!

  • dailymuscle // Jul 19, 2008 at 6:12 PM

    Erick: Eat anyway – your body has a need because you’ve just exercised – and you must meet that need.

    You can’t apply what people say about no meals late at night – you’re an athlete now, not a normal person, and your body now has special needs. Your body will handle those nutrients differently compared to someone eating that exact same meal NOT having worked out.

  • Slz // Aug 4, 2008 at 10:16 AM

    would it be ‘really neccesary to take supplements? after all, people in the past are still able to have great bodies without the creation of supplements.
    my dad used to take protein supplement during his body-building days and the side effects have caused his body metabolise a lot of the muscle into body flab in his 30-50’s period. (and no it is not his current diet or lifestyle that does it)

  • Tom Parker // Aug 10, 2008 at 12:14 AM

    After weight training I drink a protein supplement straight away and then go home and cook myself a proper meal with adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The second meal usually comes a couple of hours after working out because I have to get home and then prepare it.

    If I do just cardio (usually a run in the morning) I normally eat a yoghurt with a cup of tea straight after. Then I get in the shower and then have a banana and protein shake just before heading to work.

  • highproteingal // Oct 18, 2008 at 6:39 AM

    i agree with the protein supplement…the only thing i do differently to maximize on the protein is add eggwhites to my shakes. This helps me tons in my energy level after a workout, without feeling too heavy. I like the taste of the eggology eggwhites the best-they seem to taste almost sweet, even though I know it is just plain egg whites. Maybe it’s because they are organic.

    I love egg whites for breakfast..have to admit I’m addicted! This company also has egg white scrambles that come in a microwavable package-fresh scrambled egg whites in 90 seconds!

    Love your blog!

  • milena // Nov 14, 2008 at 1:24 AM

    Ive been told to eat carbs but not fibrous carbs because fiber slows down digestion. And I was going to have some peanut butter, but you mentioned to stay away from fat. Peanut butter contains 16 grams of fat. Should I just X the PB or is it okay for a PB and J sandwich?

  • Drake // Nov 17, 2008 at 5:04 AM

    I have to say, although whey protein is fast digesting, there has to be other natural foods that can be consumed after weight lifting and eggs are definitely high on that list. 100 BV, the highest BV of any natural food. I mean, what did all the body builders of the past decades do before whey?? They must have all been really small! :p

    BTW, there are studies which show that post-workout (with heavy lifting) carbohydrates do not improve protein synthesis any more than non-carb post workout consumption. While carbs do provide glycogen and shuttle those aminos to the muscles, it is assumed by people that this is somehow ‘accelerated’ just because someone worked out.

  • marcus // Feb 20, 2009 at 5:49 AM

    ok i work all day as a plumber so all ways moving about , i eat at one normaly chicken .then get to the gym and have a caffeine drink to give me a kick the run box and then hit the wights after i have a protin shack,then dont normaly get home till 9 . but what is the best thing to eat

  • Immanuel // May 8, 2009 at 11:43 PM

    Please after having sex, what food and drink should one take to regain strength quickly?

  • LO lop // Jun 18, 2009 at 8:45 PM

    hip hop all the way – skipping is very good to loose that flabby belly plus 2 glasses of water with mint crushed in it

    it will do u wonders boys n girls i am in line to take on ck adverts showing my six pack another 2 months and il be ripe thanks to crack cocaine

  • jackson sam // Jan 14, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    i really want to increase my weight, b.coz iam too skiny dude.
    pls help me out, and need to gain my weight.
    feed back me dude

  • John // Jan 25, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    What shold I eat after a workout. I usually drink a whey protein shake with 1 % milk, banana, and oatmeal but what do I eat before I go to bed or morning or day after. Sometimes, I end up gaining muscle and belly fat. What should I do?

  • sharifa // Jun 10, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    Great post. It’s very informative.

    After exercising I don’t get hungry so I don’t eat. I tend to eat more when I’m not moving a lot than when I’m exercising. So what I do is wait until I get hungry and then I just avoid the fatty food. I didn’t know then that eating is a must. Thanks.

  • Jenaveve // Aug 1, 2010 at 8:10 AM

    I’ve read on other online sources that after weight training, in particular, it’s best to eat both carbs and protein (like you said). I also read that the sources of such carbs and proteins should come from foods that the body will be able to digest quickly, and you did touch upon this with regards to proteins.

    However, what about carbs? You recommended that people eat foods such as oatmeal and whole grain bread (which are complex and therefore take the body a longer time to break down/digest). I’ve read that many people who weight train opt for more simple carbs that can be broken down more quickly. For instance, dextrose. It seems that a lot of people mix pure dextrose (or dextrose in the form of Smarties candies, one of the few candies that uses it as its sole source of sugar – lol) in their protein shakes. What are your thoughts on this?

  • fariz // Nov 9, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    Great article! Really informative especially about the carbs + protein after working out. I’ve always been taking protein only, and just eggs after working out. I never knew it wasn’t the right thing to do.

    My question is, since protein shakes are considerably expensive in my area, can a soya drink be a substitute? It’s liquid so I assume it will digest quickly?

    And also what if I take eggs an hour or so before working out? My work out sessions are usually about an hour and a half. Do you think by the time I finish working out, the eggs will be digesting?

  • negar // Jul 3, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    what would happen to a attlets if he eat a meal for example rice with fried fish emmediatly affter hard exercising?

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