Author: James O Sullivan • Fact checked by: Gainful Registered Dieticians • Aug. 22, 2022
If you’re dedicated to your workout routine, you’ve likely noticed that you feel better during and after some workouts than others. The food you eat (or don’t eat) pre- and post-workout can make a difference in how you feel.
Eating before and after a workout isn’t just about keeping those feelings of hanger away; it’s also about providing your body with the fuel it needs to perform its best. If you’re wondering what to eat after a workout, we’ve compiled a list of the best suggestions based on when you’ll be exercising.
When considering what to eat after a workout, it’s important to try and strike the right balance between the three macronutrients to fuel recovery: carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Your body relies on each of these three macronutrients to fuel itself throughout the day, including during and after a workout. While you need some of each, getting the ratios right can help you feel better after exercising while supporting your muscle to ensure you get the gains you’ve been working so hard for. Ideally, you’ll consume 3 grams of carbohydrates for every 1 gram of protein, plus a small amount of fat.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of fuel, and intense workouts can deplete your muscle glycogen — which you then need to replenish.
When you ingest carbs, your body converts the glucose into glycogen, which is then stored in the liver and muscles. During short workouts or those that require a lot of power, your body uses the glycogen in muscles as fuel.
After about an hour or so, the glycogen stores in your body become depleted, preventing you from working out at the same intensity and leaving you feeling fatigued after the fact.
Carbohydrates are found in many different foods, but are abundant in sugars, starches, and fibers. Foods like bread, beans, potatoes, rice, pasta, sugar, fruit, and more all contain high concentrations of carbohydrates that can make for a great post-workout snack.
Studies show that eating protein after a workout is an important means of helping your muscles recover. Lean protein is critical for helping your muscles rebuild and repair themselves after a workout, but it can also support your overall performance and strength.
Protein can come from a wide range of sources, including beef, poultry, pork, seafood, beans, quinoa, eggs, soy, and dairy. People who follow plant-based diets can have difficulty getting in all of the essential amino acids, or building blocks of protein, that the body needs in order to function properly because plant-based sources of protein often lack one or more of these amino acids.
Protein powders, bars, and other supplements can be an excellent option to up your protein intake.
Here at Gainful, we offer Personalized Protein based around your dietary preferences, fitness goals, and lifestyle habits. Your blend may include protein options like Organic Pea Protein, Organic Brown Rice Protein, Whey Protein Isolate, or Whey Protein Concentrate, depending on your needs and goalshabits.
Other ingredients like Green Tea Extract, BCAAs, and Organic Oat Powder may also be included for added benefits regarding muscle glycogen, metabolism support, and recovery.
After a workout, fatty acids are crucial for ensuring that the body returns to homeostasis while still maintaining muscle strength and growth.
You can find fatty acids in foods like nuts and seeds as well as fatty fish, which are known to have particularly high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
The truth is that there isn’t necessarily a set in stone window during which you should eat your post-workout meal or snack. Many factors can determine the best time for post-workout nutrition, such as whether you fasted before and during your workout, in which case it is best to eat immediately after the workout.
When it comes to eating after a workout, you should do whatever helps you feel your best and perform at your best.
Another way to fuel your workouts and your recovery is to take a pre-workout supplement 1020 to 30 minutes before your workout. Pre-workout supplements typically contain ingredients likeprotein, carbohydrates, and caffeine, beta-alanine, and BCAAs, delivered to you in the right ratio to fuel your muscles and brain so that you can perform at your peak. These products typically come in a powdered form that can be mixed into the beverage of your choice and may offer the following benefits:
We offer Personalized Pre-Workout blends to help fuel your training sessions, maximize endurance and minimize recovery, and overall help make your workouts more impactful. Your blend may include Natural Caffeine to minimize fatigue perception, BCAAs for muscle growth and recovery, and Beta-Alanine to help support training intensity.
Protein shakes are another popular way to refuelre-fuel after a workout.
Most people are familiar with the idea of consuming a protein shake after a workout, and studies show that drinking a protein shake before or after a workout generally both yield the same results.
Regardless of when you drink it, your body is able to use the protein to help rebuild your muscles. Many people find protein shakes to be a convenient pre-workout option because they can be mixed up quickly and consumed 60 to 90 minutes prior to a workout. If you’re looking to get more protein before a workout, take our quiz to discover your Personalized Protein blend.
There are various foods and food combinations that you can try after a workout to replenish your body and fuel yourself.
After a workout, it is important to focus mainly on carbohydrates and protein to ensure your muscles have the support they need to properly recover and grow. Here are a few options for post-workout meals and snacks:
All of these options have a good balance of carbs, protein, and fat to help your body return to homeostasis following exercise. Ultimately, how you replenish yourself after a workout comes down to what helps you feel good.
Keeping yourself hydrated during and after a workout is just as important as fueling your body with food. During a workout, you are losing most of your electrolytes through sweat, and replenishing those electrolyte stores is a crucial part of recovery and overall health following exercise.
Our Personalized Hydration blend is tailored to you based on your training intensity and frequency as well as your sweat levels so we can help ensure you have everything you need to achieve your goals.
Electrolytes help both your brain and your body function as they should, and your personalized blend may include ingredients like Calcium Citrate and for muscle function, Magnesium Glycinate for muscle performance, Sodium Citrate to replenish after sweat loss, Potassium Citrate to help regulate your fluid balance, and Cane Sugar to accelerate your hydration process.
The food you consume before a workout can make a major difference in how you feel while you’re exercising. Generally, you’ll want to focus mainly on carbohydrates for energy. You can include a moderate amount of protein if desired, and avoid having too many fats to mitigate digestive issues while exercising.Those focusing on high-intensity or short workouts may want to take in plenty of carbohydrates, as the body uses carbs for fuel during these efforts. Those working out at a moderate pace or for an extended period of time will need to focus on the intake of healthy fats throughout the day.
Of course, no matter what type of workout you do, you’ll need to get enoughplenty of protein to help your muscles repair and rebuild — we can help with that. Take our quiz today to learn more about your personalized Gainful blends and fuel your workout properly.
Carbohydrates | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
Pre- versus post-exercise protein intake has similar effects on muscular adaptations | National Library of Medicine
The Importance of Fatty Acids as Nutrients during Post-Exercise Recovery | NCBI
Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? | PMC
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