If you want to make any progress with your workout for weight loss, you have to pay attention to the meals you take after your workout. Imagine spending all the time and effort in your workouts but not eating the right meals to complement your efforts.
Eating the right foods after a workout is a great way to enhance your results. Choose your post work out meals bearing in mind the duration, intensity, and type of workout you engage in. (1)
This is even more important when you are trying to lose weight because you may feel tempted to cut down on your calorie intake by skipping meals after a workout. Avoid doing that because eating the right meals after a workout helps your muscles recover fast to have a maximum workout session next time.
Also, it curbs hunger and prevents you from overeating which is good for your weight loss goal. (2)
Why is Eating the Right Post Workout Meals Important For weight loss?
Enhanced Energy for Subsequent workout and Muscle Recovery
Your muscles need repair and replenishing after a workout because workout damages your muscles and depletes your body energy stores. Eating well after a workout is an important way to counter this.
Also if you desire to have enough energy to continue with your routine workout, then consider refilling your energy stores with the right meals after your workouts. If you do not eat after a strenuous workout, you tend to lose muscle mass instead of fats which is not good for your weight loss goal. Lean muscles help keep you toned, boosts metabolism and keep you healthy.
However, if your workouts are mild and not strenuous, you may not necessarily need to eat each time you do so because they do not cause a significant depletion of your energy stores. (2).
What Are The Constituents Of An Ideal Post Workout Meal For Weight Loss?
Stick with meals that are easy to digest and absorbed, whole foods that are loaded with micronutrients.
Your muscles are mainly made up of proteins and it is vital to the production of enzymes, immune cells, chemical messengers and hormones. It is made from amino acids which the body is capable of producing some and incapable of producing some. This is how important protein is to the body.
More so after a workout, protein reduces fatigue and soreness of the muscle. Taking proteins 30 minutes after a workout can quicken the healing process of the micro-tears that occur in the muscle due to the workouts. This makes the muscle stronger with time.
Consuming proteins after a workout curbs appetite and leads to a slow release of energy from your food, which helps support healthy blood glucose and insulin sensitivity. All of these are vital to managing your weight. (3)
Protein powder is most often advised as it gets into the bloodstream fast and then into the muscle which quickly starts the recovery process. (4)
It has been shown that taking a combination of protein and carbohydrate within the first two hours of an exhaustive workout leads to faster and better performance and recovery when compared to taking carbohydrates alone. The study showed that protein not only stimulates recovery but also improves performance 18 hours after. (5)
Examples of protein-containing post-workout meals for weight loss include Chicken, Turkey, Salmon, Tuna, Cottage cheese, Protein bar, and plant-based or animal powder.
During workouts, your body depletes its glycogen stores and taking carbs post-workout helps replenish this. Also, they offer the most reusable form of energy giving you energy for your next workout. It is recommended to eat carbs and proteins in a ratio 3:1 though this depends on your goals.
To achieve your weight loss goal, you should eat in this ratio. Though the process may be slow, your performance at the gym will not be compromised but results will be noticed soon. (2)
Consuming carbohydrates post-workout is very beneficial unlike fasting as it increases glycogen stores and decreases the degradation of the protein. (5)
Eat easy to digest foods like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, fruits, chocolate milk, rice and rice cakes, chocolate milk and green leafy vegetables among many others.
Consuming fats after a workout may slow down digestion as well as nutrients absorption but not its benefits. (6)
A study revealed that taking whole milk post-workout increases protein synthesis by increasing the uptake of amino acids like phenylalanine and threonine. (7)
Although ingesting some fats after working out does not affect your recovery, you may find it helpful if you limit your fat intake after working out. (6)
However, you can consume healthy fats such as avocado, coconut, nuts, and butter at times of the day other than after working out to help maintain heart health, increase satiety and control hormones. (2)
You can take water before, during and after your workouts it does not have to be after workouts only. Hydrating your body makes for a well regulated internal environment to boost your workout results.
You must hydrate your body especially if your next workout session comes up within the next 12 hours. Your water intake should correspond with the intensity of your workout to cover up for the loss. (6)
Not taking water post-workout can cause dehydration and significantly slow down metabolism. Also, it has been advised that you take an extra 500- 600mls of water for each hour spent working out. (8)
In the course of working out, your body loses water and electrolytes in the form of sweat. Water helps you replenish all these, thereby speeding your recovery and improving your performance.
If you do not rehydrate, you do not only become dehydrated but it’s a good way to curb hunger. Often, its thirst you need to quench and not food that you need when you are hungry. (9)
If your workout lasts more than an hour, you can eat foods that contain sodium to make up for the lost electrolytes in sweat. Sports drinks will also help replenish the lost electrolytes as well as snacks such as Banana, pretzels, and yogurt. (9)
The Time at Which You Eat Your Post Workout Meals Counts
After your workouts, do not delay eating even if you don’t feel so hungry, try doing so within 30 minutes because at this point there is adequate blood flow and your muscles will get the nutrients faster. This brings about fast recovery and your body prepares itself for better performance. (2)
If you find it difficult eating immediately after working out, you can schedule it around a meal then you ensure the meal is balanced. Also, you can simply buy protein bars and keep them handy. This saves you the stress and time of having to reach home to cook. (2)
However, eating before working out means that they may be no need for you to eat post-workout as you may still be benefiting from the nutrients of the food you ate pre-workout. (6)
What are the Post Workout Meals for Weight loss to take?
For your body to recover fast and for you to get the desired benefits of your workouts, you can try these foods as they are easily digestible and their nutrients also easily absorbed.
Cottage Cheese with vegetables
Cottage cheese has a lot of leucine which is an amino acid that is vital to the synthesis of muscle protein post-workout. This helps you burn more calories while resting thereby promoting weight loss.
Although cottage cheese alone is rich in protein, you can make it even more nutritious by eating it with cucumber, carrots or other vegetables sticks. You can also add cinnamon or vanilla if you want something sweet. (10)
Consume whole grains
Whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat, etc. Unlike processed grains, they are rich in nutrients like vitamins, proteins, antioxidants, minerals like zinc and manganese, and fiber.
Consuming whole grains post work out gives you a boost in nutrients and helps you recover fast. You can combine your whole grains with vegetables, protein, yogurt, or low-fat milk. All this will go a long way in curbing your post-workout hunger and helping you lose weight. (9)
Banana with Pea Nut Butter
Banana with peanut butter after a workout is something worth trying. Firstly ensure that the peanut butter you will use is a pure one that is free from palm fat and sugar. Peanut butter contains proteins and fat which helps with a quick recovery after a workout. Banana, on the other hand, contains carbs, magnesium, and potassium which is good for boosting your energy levels and electrolytes replacement. (10)
Also, bananas have high fiber content, with low calories. It helps you feel full and aids easy bowel movement. It is good for maintaining a healthy digestive system and taking a medium-sized one can supply you with 12% of the fiber you need daily. (16)
Yogurt with Berries
Particularly, Greek yogurt is obtained by straining whey from regular yogurt. It is loaded with protein, phosphorus, and calcium which is vital for bone health. Greek yogurt is also thick and creamy plus the high protein content keeps you feeling full for long making it a suitable post-workout meal.
Besides the fermentation process that yogurt is subjected to makes it rich in good bacteria that help maintain a healthy gut and boosts immunity. (17)
Berries on the other hand whether fresh or frozen are low on carbs, calories and high in antioxidants. They help reduce blood b sugar levels as well as improve your body’s response to insulin.
Also, the fiber and few caloric contents of berries make them a very suitable post-workout meal for weight loss. (18)
Quinoa is a very palatable post-workout meal that can be made ahead of time and preserved for use later. It can be made as a mixed quinoa salad. It can also be mixed with some chickpeas and beans for more proteins. Otherwise, it is a good vegan protein source. (10)
Also, quinoa consumed as a grain and is gluten-free. It is also grouped as a pseudocereal that is high in not just protein but fiber content. With a low glycemic index, quinoa is a healthy option for those seeking to regulate their blood sugar levels. (11)
When consumed in moderate quantity, green tea which is a source of caffeine boosts metabolism and your body’s energy levels by helping you burn more calories
Also, green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is a strong antioxidant that is also known for having a calorie-burning effect.
Green tea may also be more effective in burning calories than coffee and it can best be enjoyed after a workout when iced instead of your usual sports drink. (9)
When you are looking for a meal packed with the protein you need after a workout, the savory muffins made of vegetables are a good option. About two or three of it at a time will be sufficient. The good thing about this post-workout meal is that it can be prepared and kept for future use and you feel the carbs are not enough, you can eat it along with a slice of bread. Just be sure it’s the bread is made of whole grains. (10)
Eggs and Baked Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins- particularly vitamin A which is good for the eye. They are also packed with carbs and when consumed with the skin, it is a great source of fiber. It helps curb hunger, make you feel full because it increases the production of cholecystokinin and slows down digestion. It is very useful for blood sugar control as well as satiety. (15)
Sweet potatoes contain resistant starch which helps reduce your risk of obesity. The calorie content of sweet potatoes is not high with a medium-size containing just about 103 calories. Its water content makes it good for appetite control making it an amazing option for weight control.
It can be served baked, boiled or fried. (15)
Eating the right meals after working out is essential for attaining your weight loss goals.
Eating proteins and carbs post-workout provide your body with the necessary nutrients to decrease muscle break down, restore depleted glycogen stores, increase protein synthesis, and hasten your recovery. This is very important for weight loss and boosting your performance during your next workout session.
Also, stay hydrated and replenish lost electrolytes post-workout to help you get the maximum benefits of your workout.
In all these, timing matters a lot, try to eat within 30 minutes after working out so that your recovery process can start soon. You can make arrangements for that even before you start working out, to avoid delay afterward.