You hear a lot of different advice about when after a workout to eat to get the biggest energy boost without sabotaging all the hard work you’ve done by having empty calories. This conflicting advice can be confusing and may leave you skipping the snack instead of refueling after a workout. Today get the skinny on eating after a workout: When is the right time to have that post-meal snack and get health benefits from it?
When is the Right Time?
You might see bodybuilders pause from doing sets of deadlifts to chug a protein shake and wonder, am I doing something wrong if I’m not eating my snack right after a workout? For most gym goers, snacking right after you finish a workout – or even while still performing strength training – is unnecessary. So if you have been racing home to get that post-gym snack in as soon as possible, or are compromising and getting a less-than-healthy snack from a local store because you think you need to eat 15 minutes after a workout, you can calm down.
It’s a good idea to eat within 30 minutes of a workout because it does your muscles the best and will kick-start your recovery process. When your body takes the calories from your post-workout snack, it actually puts them to use restoring your muscles from the pounding you put them through. These calories literally cannot turn to fat because your body only stores calories as fat when it has no immediate use for them.
If you miss that window, try to get a snack or a meal in within 60 minutes of your workout. Working out boosts your metabolism, so you are primed to burn more fat whether you are working out, sleeping, or just sitting at your work desk.
Best Foods to Reach For
More important than time, however, is the nutritional quality of your snack. It’s best to have a snack or a meal that is rich in protein after a workout. Protein helps you build and repair muscle mass, so whether you want to bulk up or are looking to minimize the stress and impact of that workout on your body, protein will get you there.
Good on-the-go protein snacks include protein shakes, protein bars, a handful of nuts, or one-half of a peanut butter sandwich. If you have a little more time, or can snack at home, you could have hummus with sliced veggie sticks (like carrots or cucumbers), a salad with slices of grilled chicken, or a turkey and cheese wrap in a whole-wheat pita.
When you choose a quality snack or meal after a workout and fit that in when you’re poised to gain metabolically from it, you will feel satisfied and energized after a workout for all the other things you need to do that day. If you need more ideas of great workout snacks, you can check in with one of our amazing trainers. They have up-to-date nutrition and exercise knowledge and can work with you so you reach your fitness and weight loss goals.