You might think loading up on snacks after a workout is counterproductive but, like the time you thought getting bangs would automatically make your life better, you are wrong.
“During the workout, your body has gone through catabolism, where your muscle breaks down and fat is mobilised from the store and used as a source of energy, water is lost through heavy breathing and sweating, because of this you lose a lot of electrolytes,” says clinical dietitian and nutritionist Aditi Khanduri, “Post-workout your body is in the best shape to absorb nutrients through food for its repair. This window lasts from 10-45 minutes post-exercise.”
Why Is It Important To Eat After A Workout?
According to the nutritionist, eating the right post-workout snack actually goes a long way in helping you achieve your fitness goals.
“It should preferably be a meal, if your exercise is followed by lunch or dinner time or a healthy snack would also do,” says Khanduri, “It should be a balance of macronutrients and include few micronutrients like vitamin C, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, etc. These vitamins and minerals have electrolyte replacement properties and vitamin C acts as an antioxidant which helps in reducing the oxidative stress (breakdown that the body goes through) and also helps reduce post workout soreness.”
Another misconception that people have about eating after a workout is that carbs are evil, especially after you’ve put in the hours at the gym. According to Khanduri, carbohydrates are a good way to restock on energy. “It replenishes the glycogen stock in the muscles which is used up during the workout. Carbohydrates prevent our body to use protein as an energy source rather than letting it focus on its main function, which is to repair rather than replenish.”
Some of her recommendations for post-workout snacks include Sattu buttermilk with a fruit and few peanuts, boiled or scrambled eggs, steamed sprouts with veggies and one teaspoon of cold press oil of your choice.
What Should We Avoid Eating After A Workout?
While you don’t have to wait for hours before eating after a workout, it’s also prudent to wait for five to ten minutes before bringing out the snacks. Your blood pressure is raised to support the strenuous activity, it’s absolutely normal. This is why it’s not recommended to supply bulk in the stomach, in the form of food. Give yourself some time to settle down and start with a small amount of hydration first. Once you feel comfortable, you can initiate your snacking,” she says.
It’s also very easy (and tempting) to give in to the urge to treat yourself to something delicious and possibly unhealthy after a workout because you think it’s fair compensation for the fact that you can’t feel your legs and upper arms anymore. Unsurprisingly, that’s something you should avoid if you want to see results from the aforementioned workout.
Khanduri also cautions against consuming large quantities of protein post-workout, via protein shakes. “If you concentrate most of your protein consumption post-workout, it will start affecting your digestion and kidney functions,” she says.
How Should We Decide What Food Is Good For Us To Eat Post-Workout?
“Post-workout snack combination can differ according to the type of activity, duration of activity, intensity, and frequency of activity/sport you are performing,” says Khanduri, “It will be different for an individual who is practicing a recreational activity/sport or for a person who is aiming to achieve a specific goal like building stamina, improving muscle mass, toning of the body, improving strength without bulking up, etc.”
She advises consulting a professional sports dietitian or nutritionist to clarify your doubts and have a better understanding of what would work for your body and requirements.
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