post workout meal nutrition healthworks

Post workout nutrition is a very important and often overlooked step. It has been proven to provide numerous benefits including improved recovery, glycogen replenishment for the next training session, and decreased muscle soreness. Before diving into what post workout nutrition is, let’s break down each step one at time. I’ll do my best to keep things simple.

What is glycogen?

Our working muscles require energy to perform at their best which is provided from mostly carbohydrates. Glycogen is created from dietary carbohydrates that have been broken down and linked together to form chains and then stored in the muscle. When muscles are used during workouts, they need energy, so those chains are broken down to provide immediate energy in combination with any glucose in the blood. The more that a muscle is used the more glycogen is depleted until those stores are eventually exhausted. The feeling of hitting a wall is typically felt when that happens, because the liver and muscles are only capable of storing around 400-600 grams of carbohydrates. These amounts can vary depending on training levels and dietary intake, but in general that is around 1600-2400 calories from carbohydrates.

Why am I so sore after exercising?

sore leg post workout needing nutritionEver had that feeling especially after a tough leg work out that if you dropped something on the floor, the pain of having to bend down to pick it up just isn’t worth it? I know I have been there and it can be rather amusing to watch from the sidelines, especially if you attempt to pick it up. Muscle soreness is caused from the muscles being damaged from exercise, which is a good thing because when those muscles are repaired, they are stronger and depending on type of training and nutrition bigger. So until they are repaired muscle soreness could continue for days and days. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer not being sore that long.

What is post workout nutrition?

I’m glad you asked that question! After working out your muscles are primed and ready to accept nutrients needed for repair, energy replenishment, muscle strength, and growth. Just think of them as a sponge ready to soak up anything they receive. Hello post workout nutrition! Now as a side note, post workout nutrition can vary according to exercise type/intensities, training status and body composition goals. So rather than bore you with the details of all the math and science calculations, let’s keep to that simple plan.

What should my post nutrition meal look like?

post workout nutrition plateThe best post workout nutrition meal should contain a combination of ½ your plate in whole grains for energy replenishment, ¼ of your plate in lean proteins for muscle repair, ¼ of your plate in fruits and vegetables along with some healthy dietary fat.

A few meal ideas:
• Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables and wild rice
• Egg omelet with avocado spread on toast
• Salmon with sweet potato and roasted cauliflower
• Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread
• Oatmeal with fruit and nuts
• Protein Smoothie
• Yogurt parfait
• Cottage cheese with fruit

So, to wrap things up

If you want to decrease the duration of muscle soreness and continue to have energy while working out, post workout nutrition is your answer. It doesn’t have to be complicated just remember to eat a meal containing lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats as soon as possible after working out. You will be amazed at how much more you are able to accomplish, including picking up things you dropped on the floor.
At Nutrition HealthWorks our team of experienced dietitians will be able to work with you on creating a customized meal plan to fit your lifestyle. We are here to provide you with the tools you need to be successful! Contact us today and set up an appointment to get you going in the right direction!

Until next time workout safe, smart, and as often as you can!

-Eric Tucker RD, LDN, CF1, USAW1, Pn1