Article by Jordan Church, Viterbo Dietetics Intern
With April showers winding down, May flowers will soon be blooming and we’ll be itching to get outside. After a winter for the record books Winona residents will be trying to get back into their normal exercise routines. One key to long-lasting energy is paying attention to post workout nutrition.
Post workout nutrition is an intriguing topic. With the wide variety of activities community members enjoy, its important to realize that the food and drink we consume afterwards plays a role in maintaining and improving our bodies’ fitness. Our body deals with nutrients differently at different times, depending on how someone exercises. By consuming certain nutrients after your workout, you can potentially improve your body composition, performance levels, and overall body recovery.
Studies continue to reveal effective post workout nutrition strategies for recreational and elite exercisers. Typically, post workout nutrition has three purposes. The first purpose is to replenish the energy stores that you have lost. Secondly, post workout nutrition increases muscle size and/or quality of the muscle. Finally, post workout nutrition is needed for repairing any damage caused by the workout.
Proposed Benefits of Post Workout Nutrition
– Improved recovery
– Improved immune function
– Less muscle soreness
– Increased ability to build muscle
– Improved ability to utilize body fat
– Improved bone mass
When we workout intensely, we damage certain tissues and fibers in our body. To repair the damage, we utilize food for our energy and recovery process. When we damage these tissues and fibers (protein in our body), we ultimately make our body stronger, leaner, more fit, and more muscular. However this process requires repair. Not only do we damage proteins while we workout, we can substantially deplete our carbohydrate stores. Thus, what is eaten post workout should include foods high in protein and carbohydrates.
After completion of your workout, a window of opportunity is present. During this window, your body is primed to accept nutrients that can stimulate muscle repair, growth, and strength. Research tells us that consumption of food within 2 hours after your workout has the most positive effects and benefits. By delaying post workout nutrition, you decrease your chance for repair, growth and strength.
So….What should you eat? As previously mentioned, protein and carbohydrates should be consumed for optimal support. Try some of these winning protein and carbohydrate combinations after your next work out:
- 0% Greek yogurt sprinkled with low fat granola– a great protein source from dairy and natural fruit sugars for carbohydrates.
- Raisin bran cereal with non-fat milk– another great source of lean protein from milk and a complex grain to provide carbohydrates/recovery.
- Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread– Turkey is a low fat, high protein meat. Combining it with a whole grain complex carbohydrate at the same time can decrease muscle soreness after a workout.
- Egg white omelet with broccoli and peppers and side of whole grain toast– the white portion of the egg is strictly protein. By adding vegetables and whole grain toast, you add carbohydrates as well as fiber to help digest and metabolize your nutrients to promote post workout recovery.
- Fruit and protein smoothie– in a blender add a cup and a half of frozen fruit, a cup of milk, handful of ice cubes and if available, a scoop of protein powder. An ultimate recovery shake.
If you are an individual that enjoys post workout supplement drinks, utilize these beverages for weight, interval and endurance training lasting 45 minutes or longer. Casual exercise like walking the dog, moving flowerpots around, or riding your bike to the grocery store does not require a recovery drink.
Enjoy the warm spring weather!