Why is it important to eat something after you worked out?
When you workout, you use your glycogen storage for fuel -that's why if you push yourself to the maximum you can feel a bit dizzy and like your muscles don't respond to you anymore- and some of the proteins in your muscle get broken down. Just after working out you need to refill this glycogen storage and repair you muscle for better recovery and be able to workout more often. You also need to rehydrate yourself after sweating.
What do you need and when do you need it?
The above means you mostly need carbs to restore glycogen and proteins for muscle growth. It should be within 30-45mn after your workout for maximum effect and it is best to limit fats just after working out: some studies show that fats slow down the absorption of the nutrients you need fast after working out (some others say that even if it slows it down, the digestion is still effective and it doesn't affect the benefits of the carbs and proteins, and some people also need some fats to satisfy their hunger more, so adding healthy fats is up to you, but it isn't the most important at that moment).
Here is what I personally eat after a workout and other options for you:
If I am in a hurry - Protein smoothies
- 2 bananas
- A scoop of plant-based protein powder (I use Vega - French Vanilla shake)
- A cup of plant-based milk.
Bananas are recommended by many professionals for a post workout meal because they are a great source of healthy carbs, potassium, and fibers that slow down the absorption of sugar. With the protein powder you get your easy to digest and complete proteins that also contains many minerals and vitamin to help you recover even better.
What you can add for extra hydration:
- Orange/mango/pineapple juice will also bring you Vitamin C and extra sweetness
- You can also use coconut water instead of the plant based milk to rehydrate with super low calories.
What you can add for healthy fats:
- 1 tbsp of organic peanut/almond butter
- Some coconut oil
- Hemp seeds (that are easier to absorb when ground)
If you have enough time you can also make a nice smoothie bowl with all the toppings and healthy granola (I plan on giving you a recipe that isn't full of sugar soon here).
What you can add for extra taste and fun:
- All the fruits you want
- You can also make a nice acai smoothie with an unsweetened acai pack and some tropical fruits
- You can add some dates for a sweeter taste
But in general I would say to limit syrups and sugars because you don't want to ruin all the benefits of your workout, but the important part is to have some pleasure and not see health as an annoying thing ;)!
Other options if you don't have a lot of time are:
- Hummus with whole grain pita and veggies
- Homemade oatmeal with bananas and protein powder
If I have more time - Macro bowls
You can read my article about macro bowls here. They are a great lunch or dinner option after working out: they are filling and satisfying when you probably are very hungry after pushing yourself, so you don't eat something that would ruin all your efforts because of frustration; they have a great carbs/proteins/fats ratio that will give you what you exactly need for recovery. The only problem is that it can take a little time to cook it, so I recommend to prepare it before your workout to have the maximum benefits and not have to wait before eating.
Other good options if you have enough time are:
- Wholegrain toast with avocado, grilled tofu and sprouts
- Healthy quinoa salad
- Rice and beans (use spices for taste!)
- Lentil and sweet potato stew