In our last post, we learned how important it is to eat post-working out. In this second installment, we learn how the right balance of foods can help you recover after exercise.
After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow muscle proteins.
Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.
Doing this helps your body:
• Decrease muscle protein breakdown
• Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth)
• Restore glycogen stores
• Enhance recovery
Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle
Exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein and even the most advanced athletes experience muscle protein breakdown.
Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue.
Studies have shown that depending on your body type, ingesting 20–40 grams of protein maximizes the body's ability to recover after exercise.
Carbs Help With Recovery
Your body's glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.
The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training.
For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (e.g. running or swimming), you might need to consume more carbs than a bodybuilder.
Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important.
Fat Is Not That Bad
Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits.
For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk.
Moreover, another study showed that even when ingesting a high-fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out, muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected.
It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.