How would you answer the following question: “Which time of your day is the most important to get your nutrition “right”?
Breakfast? Snacks? Evening meal? While all of those eating events may have valid reasons for being important, I would suggest that if you are working out, your greatest window of opportunity to “eat right” is WITHIN 45 minutes of completing your workout. Why?? During this time, your body’s cells are more sensitive and will accept the nutrients you eat more efficiently. Once you have passed this 30-60 minute window following your workout, your opportunity to efficiently use the food you eat decreases.
Next question: “What should you eat post workout?”
There are three main factors that determine what you eat after a workout:
1. What are your goals? (weight loss, weight gain, building strength)
If you are trying to lose weight, make sure that your post workout nutrition is not “erasing” the calorie deficit you just created by doing a workout. Try to use your MEALS as your post exercise “refueling” vs. adding in a post workout SNACK. Focus on the protein vs. the carbs. If your goal is to gain weight or build muscle, then likely you need to have a post training snack followed by a meal about 2 hours post workout.
2. What time of day do you complete your workout?
Depending on your workout time, you can refuel with a snack or a meal – just keep in mind your goals.
3. What type of workout are you doing?
If you are doing a high intensity cardio workout – you may need some more complex carbs (fruits, whole grains) following your workout. If you are doing a strength training workout – focus on that protein! (eggs, nuts, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, protein shakes).
Some suggestions that can work for just about anyone – mix / match / pair as needed: A couple eggs, fresh fruit, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, lean turkey sandwich loaded with veggies and mustard, oatmeal (not from a packet) with skim milk raisins and cinnamon, or maybe a fruit smoothie with a protein powder supplement. Lots of options – consider your goals and find what works for you! BUT most importantly – make sure GOOD food happens following your workout!!