After warming up on the treadmill, getting a blast from a cardio workout and cooling down with stretching exercises, you’re ready to hit the shower and wash away the sweat. You’re happy with yourself because you’ve successfully completed your exercise routine and burned off calories. Now that you’ve worked so hard, you’re thinking of grabbing a post-workout meal to complement the hardwork you’ve done.
Is grabbing a meal after working out a smart idea? Won’t it undo all to the hardwork you’ve accomplished? If you choose your food wisely, eating within 2 hours after working out can actually keep your metabolism going and keep your body burning more fat.
Keep these guidelines in mind in choosing your post-workout meal or snack:
Remember to rehydrate.
A person normally loses 4 cups of fluid for every hour of exercise. The amount may also increase depending on the weather. If the temperature is unusually high, you’re bound to lose more fluid. When you sweat, you’re not only losing water, you’re also losing minerals and electrolytes. After working out, you’ll need to replenish your body with lots of water or a sports drink.
Be mindful of the number of calories your post-workout meal has.
Remember: If you want to lose weight, make sure you consume less calories than what you normally do but still enough for your body to function optimally. For example, if you normally consume 3500 calories a day but all your body needs is 2500 calories for it to function at its best, you need to make sure that your daily calorie intake is not less than 2500 but not more than 3500 calories for you to lose weight. Make sure that when the calories of your post-workout meal is added to your total daily calorie count, the total number of calories still stays within the weight loss range.
Watch where the calories come from.
Post-workout is the best time to load up on carbs. If possible, 60% of the calories of your post-workout meal or snack should come from carbohydrates. This will help you “refill” your body’s muscle fuel, glycogen.
Aside from carbs, your body also needs protein to initiate muscle repair. Ideally, 25% of calories should come from protein.
Keep the fat off.
Fat doesn’t play an important role in post-workout recovery or weight loss. So keep them at bay. The calories from fat should only be 15% of the total number of calories or less.
If you’re unlike most people who feel hungry after working out, don’t force yourself to eat heavily. Just have a few bites to keep your energy up. Better yet, take this opportunity to enjoy a glass of smoothie or an energy bar.
Next time you feel like loading up after exercise, enjoy the following foods:
- Greek Yogurt and a sprinkle of fresh berries
- Peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat with banana slices
- Tuna sandwich with lite mayo and veggies on whole wheat bread or a sandwich thin
- Your own trail mix made with nuts, dried fruit and kashi go lean cereal
- Protein Shake made with protein powder, tofu or greek yogurt
- Eggs and whole wheat toast
- High Fiber and High Protein Cereal and Milk like Kashi Go Lean
- Oatmeal and fruits
- Hummus with Veggies (look at my homemade recipe)
Know more about how your body works. If you feel hungry after working out, don’t stop yourself from eating. As long as you watch what you eat and stay away from fatty foods, eating after working out is not a bad idea. In fact, it can even keep your body burning fat long after you’ve left finished working out.