Health

What Food You Should Eat After A Workout

food trays on table

What and when you eat can influence your performance and how you feel while you exercise. Eating foods high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat is the right fuel for your workout. The body stores excess carbohydrates as glycogen, initially in the muscles and then in the liver. At the time of energy requirement, muscles use the stored glycogen.

A diet that includes at least 50 per cent of calories from carbohydrates allows your body to store glycogen. Cereal, bread, vegetables, pasta, rice and fruits are good sources of carbohydrates.

If you happen to exercise for long periods of time or if you are preparing for sports or an endurance even, loading up on carbohydrates on days before the event can improve your performance. Proteins are essential for muscle repair and growth. Therefore in order to maximize your workouts you need to co-ordinate your meals, snacks and fluid intake. You can get protein from meat, dairy products, nuts, eggs you can get protein from meat, dairy products, nuts, eggs, pulses etc. you do not really need protein supplements if your protein intake is adequate from the food you eat.

Fat is a smaller part of your diet. Both fats and carbohydrates can provide energy to build up your muscles during exercise. Avoid fatty foods just before exercising. Fats takes a longer time to digest and hence can make you feel uncomfortable. Unsaturated fat is the best fat that you can consume from nuts, fatty fish, vegetable oil, etc.

Eating a lot before exercising can make you sluggish or give you stomach upset, cramping or diarrhea. On the other hand, working out can be tiring and frustrating especially when you look at your wrist watch every five minutes to see the time. This is an indication that you have not eaten anything before exercising and hence the reason for feeling low. Exercising on an empty stomach can be dangerous. Not eating before you exercise would deplete your blood sugar levels making you feel weak and fatigued. Your mental abilities too may get affected thus slowing your reactions.

bowl of chicken on table

Performance enhancing nutrition tips

  • Eat a nutritious breakfast.
  • Time your meals properly. If you wish to eat your lunch or a heavy meal, eat three to four hours before exercising.
  • Do not skip meals.
  • Eat a meal containing protein and carbohydrates within two hours of your exercise session.

Every individual has different hunger needs. It also depends upon the time when you exercise. If you are an early riser and you prefer morning workouts, you do need to nibble on a light snack to avoid that dizzy feeling. However, it is important to allow some time to avoid nausea if you wish to exercise within an hour after you wake up, experts suggest that you consume around 200-300 calorie. Avoid protein and fat because these take longer to digest. Instead consuming simple sugars such as juice result in fast absorption. But here too the quick rise and fall in blood sugar can make you tired. The best bets are raisins, any fruit such as a banana, or a high-carbohydrate drink or a sports drink such as Gatorade. The snack can be had 30 minutes before a workout or exercise.

To avoid hunger pangs during the noon exercises, fitness experts suggest eating a mini meal that has about 300 to 400 calories, and is consumed about one to two hours before the exercise. It is best to avoid heavy fat and protein meals at that time. Include around 60 per cent carbohydrates, 20 per cent protein and 20 per cent fat. Yogurt, fresh or dried fruits, baked potato, etc can help give you the energy to exercise. You can eat a balanced meal after your workout.

You are tried after a hard day’s work and it’s time for your exercise; and you had a great lunch—of around 400 to 500 calories. Now it is three hours post-lunch before you exercise. Therefore you may need a small snack—biscuits, a fruit or a mawa cake or a cup cake to get you going.

Following an Exercise

You do need to replace some of those lost calories after exercising. Varied views have been reported regarding how much to eat following a workout. Some studies report that a carbohydrates and protein mixture stimulates a quick glycogen replacement within the first six hours. Other studies reveal that merely eating carbohydrates is enough. To make it simple, eat a meal, which balances carbohydrates, protein and fat.

water bottle on grass

Remain Hydrated

Staying hydrated makes you workout better. Your body uses water in your blood to carry nutrients such as glucose to cells and also to remove waste products from the cells. As you exercise, your body produces heat, which leaves your body as you sweat. With sweat, electrolytes such as sodium chloride, potassium and calcium also are removed from the body.

Water helps replace the lost fluids. If you do not replace the lost fluids, your body temperature can rise and the heart rate can increase causing dehydration. Experts recommend drinking water two hours before your workout and then sip water throughout your exercise program and after you finish. You may need to drink more water especially during summer season when it hot and humid.

If you are exercising for more than an hour, you may need a sports drink to maintain your electrolyte balance. Sports drink with sodium in it helps you re-hydrate quickly.

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