What to Eat After a Workout at the Gym: 5 Easy Tips
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that gymming or working out is no longer an option, it is a necessity. You need to incorporate it in your daily routine to stay fit and active. And this applies to all ages. Experts agree that a certain amount of physical activity can help maintain your health as you age. And then of course, there is the urban obsession with losing weight. Many embark the fitness regime to look well sculpted and toned up, burning all those fats and making more muscles.
Nonetheless, apart from lifting those heavy weights, doing push-ups, lunges and squats and running on the treadmill tirelessly, there are a few points you should keep in mind post your workout. Firstly, immediately after you have worked out, it’s important to do a few stretching exercises, as it reduces injuries and helps relax your muscles. While exercising, your muscles are left tightened. Stretching helps to reset your body to its natural position and posture. “Not all muscles need to be stretched post your workout, so focus only on hitting those areas that are left exceptionally tight from the workout”, recommends Mukul, Fitness Trainer at Sumaya Health Club, New Delhi.
Secondly, it is essential to watch your diet before and after you have worked out, to ensure that you achieve what you desire. While a pre-workout diet is supposed to be easy on the stomach while giving you the required burst of energy, the role of your post-workout meal is to ensure that your body has all the supplies it needs in order to recover. “I ate whatever I wanted after gymming and still remained fit,” said no one ever.Read ahead to know that it is not only your selection of exercises which are important, but many other aspects you need to keep in mind post your workout regime.
1. Eat Within 30 Minutes of Your Workout
What you eat post your workout plays a key role in impacting muscle gain. After doing a strenuous workout, one should eat a ‘recovery’ meal as soon as possible. According to Dr. Anju Sood, who has been working in the field of nutrition for about 25 years in Bangalore, one should have a protein-rich meal within half an hour of their workout and should avoid carbs if one wants to tone up. “Fat is the culprit”, she asserts.
Our body uses up nutrients during workouts, so post-exercise meals are all about providing the body with what it has lost for repair and healing. In fact, it’s the recovery after exercise that really helps in terms of building strength, endurance and lean muscle tissues. Not recovering properly will make you weak when you go for your next workout, and also increase your injury risk.
2. How to Plan Your Diet
A lot of people think because they did an intense workout, they deserve a burger. During the workout the body mobilizes the fat and one is generally left hungry post exercising. Hence, we tend to have a lot of unhealthy food, which gets us back to square one. It is thus important to make sure you have the necessary intake of nutrients.
Your diet also depends on the time you are working out. For example, if you workout in the evening, you can avoid having carbs for dinner, but in the morning, one should eat carbs. Dr. Shalini Manglani a well-known nutritionist of Bangalore cautions, “one can have from seven to fifteen grams of protein in their meal post the workout. However, it further depends upon the person’s weight and height and for how long they workout.”
Here are some choices for your diet as per nutritionist Gargi Sharma, working for Aayna Clinic, New Delhi:
a) Hummus and Tuna Sandwich: Tuna is low in calories and high in proteins. Hummus is rich in fiber and is better than mayonnaise and mustard. A sandwich stuffed with vegetables makes a good option.
b) Eggs: They help in muscle growth and are a good source of protein. Vegetable stuffed omelette can be a perfect combination of taste and nutrition after a workout.
c) Avocados: They provide Vitamin B, which helps in metabolizing all healthy carbohydrates and proteins. Take a few slices of avocados with an omelette or mix it with smoothies.
d) Whey protein: The intake of whey protein leads to an insulin spike, which helps the muscles absorb glucose and replenish energy stores. It can be mixed with water or milk. It also provide the needed amino acids to muscles. However, eat it only on prescription.
e) Cherries: They are rich in antioxidants and thus help in relieving muscles soreness after a workout.
Dr. Anju Sood adds, “One can also have a peanut butter sandwich or a glass of soy milk, cubes of paneer, a portion of sprouts or Besan Chila which are great sources of protein.” She further comments, when asked about the common mistakes people make in their diet post their exercise, “A lot of my clients complain that they are neither losing weight nor gaining muscle. That happens because people end up eating carbs.” She says, we should not forget that protein-rich foods also have some amounts of carbs in them, which help in replenishing the body’s energy.
Brown Rice Instead of White: Apart from the fact that brown rice is a whole grain, it is also a source of antioxidant. Further, since it is rich in fiber, it promotes metabolism and weight loss, asserts Gaurav Sharma.
Handful of Dry Fruits: Sheela Krishnaswamy, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, recommends having some dry fruits which have a high glycemic index, immediately after a workout.
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4. Stay Hydrated
After gymming, we sweat and therefore lose electrolytes, which are minerals found in the blood that help in regulating the amount of water in our body. While a normal workout wouldn’t require electrolyte-replenishing but those who participate in longer and tough workouts generally need it. Sheela Krishnaswamy draws our attention to the fact that it’s also not necessary to have a big meal if it’s just one hour of workout. However, it is important to stay hydrated. Apart from having plain water, one can have coconut water which is a rich source of potassium that counteracts the effects of sodium This helps in maintaining proper fluid balance in the body, and aids in avoiding cramps after an intense workout schedule.
5. Recovery Drink
Bored of the regular protein shake? You can also sip a delicious chocolate milkshakeafter working out, which will replenish your energy levels and the glycogen index. According to Cornell University researchers, chocolate milk, as long as it is low fat, is the ‘gold standard for a recovery beverage’. Clint Wattenberg, the coordinator of sports nutrition at Cornell, said that “20 grams of protein is optimal for muscle recovery for an athlete weighing around 10 tones.” It was concluded in the research that chocolate milk was as effective as any other sports beverage.
Don’t forget to keep these tips in mind after exercising, so that you stay fit, the healthy way. And as they, ‘As you sow so shall you reap’!