Remember the saying: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day? It is absolutely true! And in today's world, where exercising has become an integral part of our daily routine, the post-workout meal has become the second most important meal of the day. But the real problem pops up when it comes to picking the best post-workout foods. Especially when we are bombarded with so much of information about various workout foods on the Internet, television, magazines, etc. So what actually is the best workout food?
Let's just understand this first-- although we all have different bodies, our basic mechanism is the same. You can pick the right post-workout food for yourself if you understand this mechanism.
Muscles store excess energy in the form of glycogen and protein. When we work out, the instant energy in our circulation provided by the pre-workout meals is used and after that the body starts breaking down glycogen stores from the muscle. Within few hours of a training, the muscle protein drops down to zero or even negative. Thus, our muscles come to a starvation point after a workout.
The purpose of a post-workout meal is to provide fuel and reload the depleted muscles. So, we need foods that can provide easily digestible carbs to fill up the muscle gylcogen stores and good quality proteins to build up lean muscle mass.
The best protein source ever. Yolk is good, its a great source of phosphotidylcholine, which is a chemical that assists in liver detoxification. Remember, moderation (2-3 whole eggs/week) is the key!
Fairly new in the market, but kefir an amazing post workout food! It's a great source of protein, fast acting carbs, calcium, potassium, B vitamins and probiotics (friendly bacteria required for good digestion). Also, liquid absorbs faster than solid foods! Enjoy 8-oz of a low fat kefir (Evolve, Lifeway) within 1-2 hours of exercising for amazing muscle replenishing results!
Select a high protein high fiber cereal, like Kashi Golean: (30 g of carbs, 13 g of protein, and 10g of fiber). Perfect for reloading the muscle energy stores.
Low-fat Greek Yogurt:
It has more than double amount of protein compared to the regular yogurt and is a great source of good carbs, perfectly suited for your post-exercise energy requirements. Add 2 tbs of low fat granola (Kashi, Bear Naked, etc) or some fresh berries (a good source of micronutrients help against muscle soreness).
Yogurt/milk based smoothies are better than water based ones as they provide the essential amino acid required for muscle recovery. Add a tsp of all natural peanut butter as a source of plant based protein or a tsp of grounded flax for a dose of omega-3s. Select your meal replacement shakes/ bar carefully, something which provides moderate amount of protein 15-20 g, at least 20-30 g carbs and has less than 10% DV of fat. Other good protein/carb meals could be: salmon with brown rice/quinoa, soy/skim milk, veggie salad with beans, etc.
Remember to eat within 1-2 hours of a workout session. Replenish your muscles..Stay fit!
Prachi Baxi has a double masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and Public Health Nutrition, she is a Nutrition Specialist certified by the American College of Nutrition and a Certified Yoga Instructor. Her immense experience in the field of Ashtanga Yoga coupled with her Nutrition knowledge she helps people who need to and want to change their way of life, become fit and discover their newer selves. She is a Fitness Counselor who has a passion for life and teaches yoga with intent and compassion. Prachi can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.