Post-Workout Nutrition Tips: Foods to Eat after High-Intensity Training
Working out is one of the best ways to stay healthy and fit. That’s why you put a lot of effort into each session so that you can reach your fitness goals. More often than not, you think about prepping for your workouts and forget about your post-workout routine, including your meals. But the key to effective training is to consume the right nutrients before and (more importantly) after you exercise.
This detailed guide will help you achieve optimal nutrition after your workouts, especially high-intensity training.
But First, What’s High-Intensity Training?
For some years now, high-intensity training has become a lingering trend in fitness. Many people think of it as working out until you throw up or reach the point of muscle fatigue. The success of the workout is in the intensity, so you should always get it right.
Guidelines recommend that moderate-intensity routines should be performed most days of the week. However, high-intensity exercises are guaranteed to burn more calories. You also save time because the workouts are shorter. Plus, they help improve your fitness level.
How do you know if you’re doing it right? Here are three ways to test if you’re working out vigorously:
- Start talking. If you can only say a few words at a time because you’re breathless, you’re doing a high-intensity exercise.
- Use the Perceived Exertion Chart. The numbers are based on your heart rate, which means that high heart rate typically means your exertion level is high. For example, if your perceived exertion rating is 12, you multiply it by 10 (or any number based on the scale) and the product is your heart, which is 120. Your workout should be around level eight to nine or higher if it is safe for you. The scale differs from person to person, so you must monitor how your body feels first.
- Use a heart rate monitor. First, you need to calculate your target heart rate zone. The maximum heart rate for all persons is 220 minus their age. For the workout to be considered high-intensity, you should stay between 80% to 90% of your maximum heart rate.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines 2018, you should do at least 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week. But don’t just do intensive workouts. Moderate intensity offers great and sustainable results. Try to work out at varying intensity levels to keep your body working in different ways.
Some examples of high-intensity training include:
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) where you do high-intensity cardio exercises and the same or longer periods of activity. Example: do a 30 second to one minute sprinting and then one to two minutes walking.
- Stair climbing
- Cross country skiing
Now that you know what high-intensity training is, it’s time to talk about what you should eat after. If you are like most people, the last thing you want is to consume food after a workout. However, the body needs to replenish the lost nutrients.
When you work out, your muscles require fuel, so it uses up glycogen in the body. This process results in depletion of glycogen in the muscles and may even damage some protein in the muscles. So, right after you exercise, the body begins healing by rebuilding the glycogen stores.
The broken-down muscle proteins are repaired, as well. By eating right after training, you encourage the body to heal faster. That’s why you should be wise in choosing the best foods for you, especially after an intense workout session.
The Key to Successful High-Intensity Workout Results
Even if you do your workouts correctly, you may notice that you are not reaching your goals. That’s because you are not eating right. The foods you consume and your training sessions both affect the results of your daily routine.
Let us quickly touch on what to eat before exercising.
If you have been working out for some time, you probably already know how crucial carbs are. Carbohydrates are energy, which means you need carbs to give you the strength to exercise at the maximum. If you skip carbs, you will feel tired, weak, and sluggish as you do your workout.
You also require protein before your training. However, don’t eat too much protein; otherwise, it can cause an upset stomach.
Below, you will find suggestions on what to eat before you work out. Make sure you eat your snack at least 30 minutes to an hour before training:
- An apple and one hardboiled egg
- Whole grain toast with sliced meat or nut butter
- One whole sliced banana and a rice cake
- Oats with dried fruits on top
- Greek yogurt
Now, let us give more focus on what you need to eat after your workout. Here are five foods crucial to rebuilding your muscles after a high-intensity exercise:
- Eggs: With seven grams of protein and five grams of fat, eggs are among the best foods to eat after your workouts. Eggs are deemed the complete source of protein because they contain all nine essential amino acids, which help your muscles recover.
- Blueberries: Not only delicious, but blueberries are also packed with vitamins, antioxidants, protein, and fibre. They can help accelerate muscle recovery, too.
- Avocados: An avocado is rich in magnesium, an excellent nutrient for your muscles. The fruit also helps you reach 14% of your daily potassium requirement, which is crucial in fluid balance. Potassium is also the mineral that keeps your heart and muscles healthy.
- Green Leafy Vegetables: Fiber, minerals, vitamins – they’re all in your favourite greens. These veggies also have low calories but high in antioxidants, which combat the free radicals released while you train. Examples of leafy greens are kale, spinach, collard greens, watercress, romaine lettuce, and cabbage.
- Protein Powder: It’s not always easy to get enough protein from whole foods. An alternative is protein powder or shakes that support your body after muscle breakdown takes place. Jeunesse ZEN Fuse is a top-quality protein shake available in two flavours: chocolate and vanilla. It’s packed with all the essential nutrients to keep you going, such as essential amino acids, 21 grams of protein, and five grams of fibre. It is suitable for everyone, including those with lactose sensitivities and gluten allergies.
Add in some supplements to help give you excellent results. We recommend Jeunesse FINITI, which is a brilliant choice for middle-aged people who want to keep fit. It has antioxidants, coenzyme Q10, turmeric, and other natural ingredients.
Meanwhile, if you have a problem with your joints when you exercise, take the MonaVie Active, which has superfruits and glucosamine. This combination effectively boosts your
stamina so that you can stay active for longer.
You should not eat right away after working out, or you will surely throw up. You can wait about 30 minutes before munching on snacks. However, refuelling your body with food should not be performed later than 60 to 90 minutes. That way, your body replenishes its glycogen supplies adequately.
Why Eat after Working Out
Just like your pre-workout food, you also need carbs and proteins after training. Always pick the right kind of carbohydrates and lean meat for your proteins. After completing your workout, you may feel like you accomplished something, but at the same time, you are tired. It is the body’s way of signalling you that you need to rest for a while because some of the nutrients have been depleted. The only way to recover those nutrients and your energy is to eat.
Some people may choose just to rest, drink water, and move on about their day. Others simply shower and probably even go to sleep. Skipping food after working out may appear normal to you, but it has plenty of consequences, such as:
- Low blood sugar levels
- Increased body soreness
The two crucial nutrients that you need to focus on are protein and carbohydrates. But don’t just go for any protein. You should always choose lean protein. Meanwhile, there are two types of carbohydrates. The first one is simple carbs, which you digest quickly and provide a short burst of energy. The second is complex carbs, which the body breaks down slowly to give energy for a longer time.
Out of these two types of carbs, the complex variety is more fitting when it comes to replenishing the lost energy and glycogen stores.
Sample Post-Workout Snacks and Meals
Here are some suggestions on what to eat after your workout:
- Egg white omelette with vegetables and a fruit
- Banana and peanut butter wrapped in whole grain bread
- Tuna and crackers
- Whole grain toast paired with nut butter
- Oats with yogurt and one banana
- Lean meats, vegetables, and quinoa
- Grilled chicken and roasted veggies
- Salon and sweet potato recipes
- Pita and hummus
- Chicken or turkey sandwich
- Cereal and skim milk
- Cottage cheese and fruits
A good rule of thumb is to consume post-workout meals or snacks within the first 30 to 60 minutes after training. In some cases, when you cannot eat a meal within that time frame, you should grab a snack in about 20 minutes. Doing so ensures optimal recovery. That way, you do not feel tired throughout the rest of the day.
One more thing to remember: make sure you keep yourself hydrated. Drink water, not just after your workout but before, as well. Proper hydration makes sure that your body’s internal environment is in the ideal state. When you exercise, you sweat, which means that your body loses water and electrolytes. By drinking enough water, you replenish the lost fluids in the body so that you can recover and perform throughout the day.
If you are planning to exercise again in the next 12 hours, ensure you have hydrated yourself adequately before that session. For high-intensity workouts, you might require an electrolyte drink for faster fluid replenishment.
So, on your next workout, get some carbs and protein after training. The sooner you do, the better. Experiment with various options to see what you like best. And don’t forget to hydrate yourself. Your body will surely thank you for helping it jumpstart the recovery process.