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After Exercise Recovery: What to Eat and Drink

Fitday Editor
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After exercise recovery is an important part of any exercise routine. You might be thinking that eating or drinking anything but water after working out will stifle your weight loss goals. In fact, refueling your body with proper food and drink after a workout is essential for weight loss and fitness gains. This article discusses what to eat and drink after a workout.


Regardless of what type of fitness plan you are on, water is a vital drink during and after working out. You probably already know that you should drink water after a workout, but you might not be aware of why or how much to drink. Water helps obviously to hydrate your body. Water also provides lubrication to your muscles, regulates your body temperature and promotes digestion. Regardless of whether or not you are feeling thirsty, you should drink the amount of water weight lost during exercise. Weigh yourself before and after exercise and consume 20 ounces of water for each pound lost.

Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are not necessary for everyone who exercises. If you are not engaging in strenuous exercise, such as distance running or cycling, it is unlikely that you will need to drink a sports drink. If however, you are exercising for 60 minutes or more, a sports drink will help you to replace electrolytes and hydrate your body. Drink approximately 8 ounces of your desired sports drink for every hour you are active. This is only a rough guideline. The actual amount of sports drink you will need to consume will vary with weather conditions, how much you sweat, and the amount of energy you are expending.


The best form of protein after a workout is a protein drink. You don't want to stuff yourself with a burger or a ham sandwich; you want a light protein-rich meal that is easy to digest and won't leave you feeling sluggish. Try a yogurt smoothie or whey-based protein drink. Both types of protein are low in fat and are easy on your digestive tract. Low-fat cheese is a good source of protein for post-workout recovery. Whatever protein you choose, aim for approximately 20 to 25 grams of protein.


Carbohydrates will replenish your glycogen stores after a workout. Most of your calories after a workout should come from carbohydrates. Try some fruit, like oranges or watermelon. You could also eat some crackers. You should strive to eat twice as many carbohydrates as protein in your post-workout meal. Strive for a 2 to 1 ratio or a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.

These after-workout foods and drinks should be consumed as soon as possible after you are finished working out. Don't wait longer than 30 minutes to refuel your body. For best results for after-workout recovery, combine protein and carbohydrates into one small meal. The combination of a protein- and carbohydrate-rich meal will increase your athletic performance and promote muscle recovery.

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