A good workout can be completely screwed up by what you do for the rest of the day. Whether you’re a running machine, a biker, or just a mall walker, powering your body with the right fuel is essential to how you perform as well as how your body recovers afterward.
But deciding what to eat after a workout doesn’t have to be hard (yeah, no more standing in front of the fridge in indecisions, thanks)! Over Easy has a list of the perfect post-workout meals and snacks so that you can give yourself the nutrition you need to make it through any exercise routine, big or small.
Why Is What You Eat After A Workout Important?
Working out is hard work. From actually getting yourself motivated to hit the gym to physically sweating it out, you put a lot of effort into working out. Unfortunately, people put way more thought and planning into what they’re going to be eating before their workout session than afterwards. The real truth is that both are equally as important and can impact the way your body performs and repairs itself in different but significant ways.
How you fuel your body, both during a workout and in your day to day, literally becomes a part of who you are. This is especially true after physical activity, where your body is straight up putting itself back together again.
How Physical Activity Impacts Your Body
When you work out, your body needs fuel. It gets that fuel by burning the stores of glycogen that are present in the muscle tissue. While this makes for a great fuel source, it eventually runs out and will need to be replaced. Once the glycogen is gone, if you continue to work out, your body may move on to breaking down and consuming the protein in the muscles.
Once you’re done working out, the first goal that your body has is to replenish those glycogen stores and use that fuel to rebuild and regrow the tissues that have been damaged during the workout. Obviously, it can’t do that if it doesn’t have a healthy food source to give it with what it needs to do the job.
Think of it like this.... Working out damages and tears down your muscles so that you can build them back up and make those gains that you’re looking for. Without the right tools to do that, your muscles will only be broken down and not built back up, leading to muscle atrophy and weakness. You’ll also feel weak, tired, and eventually will lose the ability to work out or do anything at all. Sounds like the opposite of what you’re going for, right?
What Makes For Good Post Workout Food?
Two specific macronutrients weigh heavily into what makes a good food to eat post-workout—protein and carbs. Each is equally important on its own, and they work together to help your body repair itself after a hard workout.
And guess what? Both are found in abundance in an Over Easy Breakfast Bar—what can we say? We’re all about complete nutrition all encased in one small colorful package.
Protein is often touted as the most important nutrient that you can eat before a workout. Think of all the gym bros that you see chowing on protein shakes and protein bars. We’re constantly bombarded with advertising telling us how important protein is pre-workout.
However, it doesn’t get the praise it needs for its post-workout importance nearly as often.
Because our muscles are made out of protein fibers, protein is needed to repair them too. The amount of muscle breakdown that occurs depends on the intensity and length of the workout, as well as how long you’ve been training for it, but it is an essential nutrient to the healing process nonetheless. Even the most well-trained Olympian athlete needs a source of protein to continue to progress without losing muscle mass. Yeah, even Michael Phelps.
Protein, just like our muscles, is composed of amino acids. You may remember amino acids from your high school science class; they’re the “building blocks” that help create protein synthesis and eventually tissue. There are 20 amino acids needed by the body, but only 11 of those are made by the body without help (known as non-essential amino acids). The other 9, called essential amino acids, need to be consumed through food sources.
When it comes to protein, experts recommend that you get roughly 0.2 grams per pound of body weight right after a workout. For example, someone who weighs 150 pounds should eat around 30 grams of protein after they’ve finished grinding.
Examples of good protein to consume after a workout are eggs, lean meats like chicken, low-fat cheeses, or peanut butter. Lucky for you, an Over Easy Bar contains up to 10 grams of protein, so nab one on your way out the door to the gym.
Carbs can get a bad rap, but we’re here to tell you that completely cutting carbs is actually going to work against your workouts.
Carbs help replenish the glycogen stores that have been drained due to the workout. They can help stop the further breakdown of muscle protein as well. Those carbs also go on to stimulate further synthesis of protein, working hand in hand with the protein that you’re consuming to rebuild the system faster and better than it was before.
Experts suggest that you try to get between 0.5 and 0.7 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight within half an hour of finishing any workout, especially a vigorous one. The same 150-pound person we mentioned would need between 75 and 105 grams.
Good sources of carbs after a workout include oatmeal, fresh fruits and vegetables, and pasta. You want something that is fairly light, as well, to not make you feel weighed down and uncomfortable. Something like… an Over Easy Breakfast Bar? Come on, you knew where we were going with this.
Examples Of A Great Post Workout Snack
Now down to the nitty-gritty… what exactly should you eat post-workout?
If sitting down and eating a full meal is out of the question (as it so often is, with our busy lifestyles), snacks are a great substitution that can help tide you over until you’re able to sit down and eat.
Have we mentioned that Over Easy Breakfast Bars are the perfect option for times like those? Oh, we have? Sorry, they’re just that good.
They are packed full of protein from healthy sources like egg whites, as well as carbs from organic oats. They also don’t have any refined sugar, gluten, dairy, or soy to weigh you down and make you feel miserable after you’ve worked so hard to better yourself. Just stick one in your workout bag before you head out to the gym, and you’ll be all set on the way home.
If you have the time after a workout, you could also make yourself a smoothie. Smoothies are an excellent way to be able to include all of the essential components of a great post-workout snack in a way that allows you to adjust it to your specific tastes. Add any fruit (or even vegetable) that you’d like, mix with a protein-heavy liquid like coconut milk or Greek yogurt, and blend. You can even add a scoop of peanut butter to up the protein content even further. And they don’t even have to be green to get the job done.
In addition to eating, make sure that you’re also drinking plenty of water. When you sweat, you naturally lose water, which can make you dehydrated fairly quickly. However, make sure that you avoid the urge to chug it. Not only can this give you a cramp, but it also loads your GI system with water and can cause some fairly uncomfortable GI side effects (like diarrhea). Pace yourself, and drink water slowly to avoid these complications.
You’ll also want to avoid most sports drinks. Although they claim to be able to replenish lost electrolytes, they are also full of sodium and calories.
How Soon Should I Eat After A Workout?
Much of the timing behind when exactly you should be eating your post-workout meal comes down to the intensity and length of your workout.
If you did a moderately intense workout, like a few mile run or bike ride, it’s important that you eat within two hours of finishing. This length of time diminishes, the more intense your workout was, and some dieticians even suggest eating within 15 minutes of a very difficult workout.
The longer that your body goes without replenishing its glycogen stores, the more likely it is that it will start to break down your own muscle and tissue as an attempt to find a fuel source. That’s why it’s so important that your post-workout meal contains both protein and carbs, which work together to promote the building up of tissue instead of breaking it down.
Keep in mind that the more intense your workout was, the more likely you won’t feel quite as hungry after you finish. This is a normal response, and you shouldn’t feel like you need to eat an entire four-course meal. Even a small snack with the right elements will help you avoid setting yourself behind the muscle-building curve. So don’t hold back, all you marathon runners and triathletes out there.
What you eat after a workout really matters. When you make healthy choices, like grabbing an Over Easy breakfast bar, you help your body replenish what you’ve lost while rebuilding your body better than it was before. And best of all, it’s convenient, delicious, and you know exactly what’s in there! Pay attention to your protein and carb intake, as well, and try to eat between half an hour and two hours of finishing to stave off muscle loss and help your body stay strong and powerful. Now you know everything about the perfect workout snack, so get to making those gains!