So you want to know if you really need a post-workout snack? My answer is exactly the same as it is to if you were asking about a pre-workout snack…YES! (If you want to read more on pre-workout snacks, click here) The reason is simple: recovery. But what exactly does recovery mean and what can you eat that will help with recovery? Let’s explore!
During training or exercise, your muscles become depleted of nutrients and somewhat broken down from the stress you just put them through. This sounds terrible but it’s actually a good thing! When you add fuel back into your system, the fuel is what helps to rebuild and repair your muscles. This is called protein synthesis. When you recover with the proper fuel at the right time, protein synthesis occurs faster and training adaptation occurs. The faster you recover from your trainings, the faster you will get better at your sport! Without recovery fuel, your progress can significantly slow and even worse, injuries can start to set in. Even if you’re trying to lose a few pounds, research shows that eating after a workout can help with fat loss!
What Do I Need To Know?
There are a few guidelines when it comes to consuming a post-workout snack:
Component of a Post-Workout Snack
CarbohydratesCarbohydrates will put that much needed glycogen back in your muscles and help spare muscles from being used as fuel. The exact amount you consume is really going to depend on your individual body, nutrient needs and how long/intense your workout was. So here’s a good rule of thumb: 1.2-1.5 g/kg of body weight of carbohydrates immediately afterwards. More does not make a difference. So a 130 lb female would need somewhere around 70 g carbohydrates. If that seems like too much, start with half that amount and work your way up until you see max benefits. Try to avoid things like Fiber One bars or Quest Bars that have 11-15 g fiber in them; this can slow down recovery. Good Carb Choices:
ProteinProtein helps to increase glycogen storage and rehydration. Eat 1/3 of the amount of carbs you will eat in grams. So a 130 lb woman who’s eating 70 g carbs should eat 23 g protein. That’s equivalent to 1 c. plain Greek yogurt. Dairy is a great choice because it contains quick digesting whey protein AND slower digesting casein protein. Some good protein choices include:
FatsFats are actually not important here from a performance standpoint. Too much can slow down digestion and absorption. Try to stick to no more than 15 g of fat in your post-workout meal or snack.