The Best Post-Workout Meal for Muscle Gain
When you started working on getting healthier, you probably heard about the importance of eating after working out. This is called the “anabolic window,” and it’s a crucial time for your body to refuel and rebuild muscle.
Drinking a post-workout shake within 30 minutes of your last set is important. This will help you to get the most out of your workout.
Many bodybuilders and gymgoers have discussed the importance of a post-workout meal for many years. They are some of the strongest people in the world.
So, people think that it is important to have a post-workout meal. But some say it doesn’t matter if you have a post-workout meal or not as long as you have enough protein and calories each day.
They are correct to some extent. Consuming sufficient calories and protein daily. It will have a much more significant impact on your ability to gain muscle and strength than whether you had a post-workout protein shake.
In this article, we will discuss what post-workout nutrition is and how it can help you improve your workout.
What is Post-Workout Nutrition?
Your body is always breaking down and building up proteins. This process is called “protein turnover.” Normally, these two processes happen at about the same rate.
Exercise causes your body to make new proteins. However, if you continue exercising for a long time, your muscles will be damaged. When you stop exercising, the muscle damage will start to happen faster than the new protein creation.
In other words, hard exercise degrades muscle tissue. This is why you frequently hear that gym training does not result in “growth.” Exercise offers the stimuli necessary for muscle change and adaptation. Nonetheless, your body repairs, recover and grows during rest periods when you are not exercising.
Muscle protein synthesis must be more than muscle protein breakdown for your muscles to grow bigger.
This is when your body builds muscle faster than it is breaking down. You want to do everything possible to ensure your body spends as much time in this state to build muscle quickly.
After a workout, your glycogen stores are depleted, and your muscles are damaged. This makes your body able to absorb anything you eat so that it can help with the repair, recovery, and growth processes.
This period after you finish your workout is called the “post-workout window.” This is when your body is most receptive to nutrients, so eating a meal containing protein and carbohydrates immediately after your workout is important.
Now let’s discuss what to consume after an exercise. This is important because you need to help your body recover from the work you just did. You can do this by eating the right kinds of food. And if you’re looking for extra help, take a look at our post-workout supplements.
Why Eat a Post-Workout Meal?
So that you can understand why post-workout nutrition is so essential, it would be helpful to know its purpose of it.
Therefore, what is the function of post-exercise nutrition?
In general, post-exercise nutrition has three primary objectives:
- Replenish Glycogen
- Reduce Muscle Protein Breakdown
- Increase Muscle Protein Synthesis
In other terms, persons who exercise the desire to:
- Replenish Energy Stores that were Depleted During Training
- Kickstart Muscle Repair
- Enhance Muscle Building
- Accelerate Recovery
You should eat a proper post-workout meal to reach all of these goals.
So, Is Post-Workout Nutrition Necessary?
There are a few things that determine if you need a post-workout meal.
Suppose you are working out on the elliptical for 30 minutes 2-3 times per week or doing some light circuit training a couple of times per week. In this situation, you are not required to consume a meal after your workout.
You don’t need to worry about getting a lot of protein. Just make sure you get enough total calories each day.
If you are more physically active and work out every day or two, you need to pay more attention to what you eat after working out.
A solid post-workout meal is especially vital if your training sessions and contests are close together and you’re more active. This meal is necessary to replace energy stores that have been used up and to give your body the essential building blocks it needs to repair damaged tissue.
If you have been stuck at the same level of progress in the gym or are experiencing a lot of pain following your workouts. Then you need to focus on your post-workout nutrition.
Essentially, it boils down to this:
The faster you can get nutrients into your body after a workout, the quicker your body starts to recover.
You need to recover quickly if you want to train more frequently and be more productive during those sessions.
You will make more progress if you do this continuously over a long period.
When Do I Eat My Post-Workout Meal?
You should eat your post-workout meal in the 30-60 minute window following your workout. This is when your body will most easily use the food you eat to help you gain muscle.
If you eat a meal with protein, carbs, and fats before your workout, you don’t need to worry about eating another meal right after. Your body will still be digesting and absorbing the nutrients from that meal.
It’s possible that, if it’s been a while since your last meal, you may want to eat something right away after your workout.
If you don’t have a meal soon after your workout, will you miss out on some of the benefits of working out?
The truth is that skipping meals harms your health more than good. To begin the process of healing and growth, your body requires food to get the job done.
What to Eat Post-Workout: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat
After you work out, your muscles are ready to use your food for fuel. This is not the best time to eat a lot of unhealthy food.
There have been many studies on what to eat after a workout. This is good news because we don’t have to guess what is best.
After working out, your blood flow and insulin sensitivity increase. This makes it easier for amino acids to travel to and enter your muscles. So it would make sense to eat some protein after a workout to help you recover better.
After all, you spent 60-90 minutes breaking down muscle tissue for the better part. This muscle tissue is made of protein.
Adding protein to your post-workout meal helps stop muscle breakdown and provides the building blocks your body needs to repair and grow muscles.
Studies have shown that consuming protein after working out stimulates muscle protein synthesis more than consuming protein at other times of the day.
Some research has shown that you need at least 20 grams of protein after a workout to help your body build muscle.
Are Carbohydrates Necessary Post-Workout?
Whether or not carbs are necessary after exercise is a hotly contested topic. Some individuals believe that the most effective is the most effective no-carb diets such as Paleo, Primal, Keto, and Carnivore.
Fortunately, we do not have to rely on the erroneous information propagated by fad diets for our post-exercise nutrition advice. Human research can provide us with the answers.
According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, participants who consumed only protein had lower insulin levels. To repair or develop muscle, they were just as effective as those who consumed protein and carbohydrates.
However, the group that consumed carbohydrates experienced better recovery than the group that only consumed protein.
Research has also shown that eating carbohydrates after a workout helps to stop muscle protein breakdown, enhances muscle protein synthesis, and speeds up glycogen replenishment.
After you work out, eating carbohydrates is a good idea. Carbohydrates help your body increase insulin levels. Insulin helps to shuttle nutrients from the bloodstream into your muscles.
Interestingly, in addition to transporting carbs and amino acids, it also prevents the degradation of muscle protein.
Now, people will tell you that you need to eat carbohydrates after a workout. But if your next workout isn’t until tomorrow, you don’t have to worry about it.
However, suppose you are a field sport athlete competing or training multiple times in a single day. In that case, you should eat some fast-digesting carbohydrates after your last event to ensure your body has enough energy for the next.
However, protein is more vital than carbohydrates following exercise for the ordinary athlete attempting to develop muscle and burn fat.
What About Fat in the Post-Workout Meal?
If you want to, you can eat some fat after your workout. But it won’t help you build muscle as protein and carbohydrates can. It also won’t hurt your muscle-building efforts or glycogen replenishment if you only train once daily.
Fat helps to add flavor to food and make you feel full, but it also slows down the digestion of your meal.
Suppose you are training or competing for more than once a day. In that case, you should eat a low-fat meal after your workout to help the carbohydrates and protein be digested and absorbed quickly.
The Best Post-Workout Meal Foods
You should focus on protein first, carbs second, and fats third. The reason is that your muscles are damaged after intense exercise, and you have less muscle glycogen. The top priority after intense exercise is to stop muscle breakdown and start the repair and growth processes.
Protein and carbohydrates are the most important nutrients for building muscle and losing weight.
If you only train once daily, you don’t need to worry about what type of food you eat. Your body will store glycogen over the next 24 hours, and you will be ready for tomorrow’s training.
Suppose you have another practice, training, or competition later in the day. In that case, you will want protein that digests quickly (such as whey protein powder) and carbohydrates. That digest quickly (white rice, white bread, rice cakes, Cluster Dextrin, etc.).
Here are some post-workout meals divided into their primary macronutrients:
- Whey Protein Powder
- Greek Yogurt
- Protein Bar
- Sweet Potatoes
- Fruit (strawberries, bananas, apples, etc.)
- Chocolate Milk
- Green Vegetables
- Olive Oil
- Egg Yolks
- Nut Butter
Best Post-Workout Meal for Building Muscle
There is no one best meal to eat after a workout if you want to gain muscle. As long as you eat quality protein and carbohydrates, you can eat the foods you enjoy.
Here are a few of our personal favorite muscle-building foods:
- Protein Powder + Oatmeal
- Protein Powder + Yogurt
- Steak + Baked Potato
- Turkey Sandwich + Fruit
- Pita + Hummus
- Greek Yogurt + Berries + Granola/Cereal
- Cereal + Milk
- Peanut Butter Sandwich (Jelly is ok too!)
- Cottage Cheese + Fruit
- Grilled Salmon + Sweet Potatoes
The Bottom Line on Post-Workout Meals
There are various views regarding whether or not you should eat after exercising. This depends on your goals, the length of time since your last meal, and the upcoming exercise session.
A post-workout meal is advantageous because it prevents muscle protein breakdown and initiates muscle-building.
Best Post-Workout Meals
What you consume immediately following your workout is equally as crucial as the food you down before you begin your activity. If you work hard, you need good nutrition to help your muscles. You also need to know how long to wait after your workout to start eating.
You need to understand the importance of food intake when working out. It is because, during a workout, your body uses up energy stores (glycogen), and muscle tissue can be damaged. You may also lose fluids and electrolytes through sweat.
When you work out, you lose energy. You need to eat food after a workout to get the power back. The food you eat also helps your muscles recover. After an exercise, you should consume protein and carbohydrates to gain muscle and strength.
Factoring in Nutrients and Timing
After exercising, eating the right amount of carbs and protein is essential. The time when you should eat your recovery meal depends on the type of workout you did and your goals.
Suppose you want to increase muscle size through intense weight resistance workouts. In that case, it is suggested that you consume 20-30 grams of lean protein and 30-40 grams of healthy carbohydrates as soon as possible after your workout.
If you want to do a light aerobic workout, you should eat a well-balanced meal one hour after you finish the workout. Some say that if you don’t eat enough carbohydrates and protein right after the training, the “anabolic window” closes, and you won’t see any results.
But the most important thing is not necessarily when you eat, but what you eat. Make sure to eat foods that will help you reach your individual fitness goals.
Eating Well and Staying Hydrated
After a hard workout, eating foods with many essential nutrients is best. These include carbohydrates and protein. Vitamins and minerals help with repairing tissue after a workout. Drinking water and sometimes a sports recovery drink during long activities is also necessary to prevent dehydration.
When people exercise, they sweat roughly 0.2 to 0.5 liters of water out of their bodies every hour on average. During a workout, a person’s performance will be negatively impacted if they lose more than 2 percent of their total body weight.
Sports nutrition research recommends drinking 2-3 cups of water for each pound of body weight lost during a workout. Because active adults typically don’t weigh in after a workout, drinking plenty of fluids during and after physical activity is essential to avoid dehydration.
Don’t Skip Post-Workout Meals
To be a successful athlete, you must eat the right things before and after working out. It includes eating carbohydrates and protein, as well as staying hydrated.
If you want to restore energy to your muscles as quickly as possible, eat carbohydrates and protein together after working out.
Eating protein within an hour of exercise is a good idea to build muscle. Consuming protein with a carbohydrate source is even better. Because it will help you to replace the nutrients you lost when you exercised and start building muscle protein.
Working out hard can leave your muscles feeling hungry. It is because when you work out, you use up a lot of the energy (or glycogen) in your muscles. If you don’t eat enough after working out, your muscles can’t rebuild and become stronger. It can also lead to an imbalance that is not good for building muscle tissue.
The goal is to maintain a positive protein balance by eating enough macronutrients before, during, and especially after exercise. Studies have shown that athletes who consume carbohydrates and protein within a few hours of training have improved muscle protein synthesis rates.
Post-Workout Meal Ideas & Tips
You don’t need expensive shakes or supplements for a good post-workout meal. The most important thing is to plan and prepare your meals. This way, your body will appreciate a ready meal when you finish working out.
After-Workout Snacks That Are Both Healthy And Convenient
- Rice with a brown crust
- Cocoa-flavored milk
- Lean proteins
- Nut butter
- Power greens
- Wraps and tortillas made from whole grains
If protein powder, premixed protein beverages, or bars are more convenient for your lifestyle and goals, go for it. You can also start meal preparation and structuring your grocery trips around healthful foods that aid recovery. It will provide you with a ready supply of high-quality foods for frequent meals to keep your body nourished after strenuous activity.
Preparing your post-workout snack is also essential to living a healthy lifestyle. Below are some ideas for meals that you can enjoy after a great workout.
Recovery Boosting Meal Ideas
- Brown rice and boneless skinless chicken breast: Use your favorite low-sodium seasonings or salsa for a nutritious recuperation meal. It may be done in the crockpot, on the stovetop, or in the oven.
- Egg scramble: Sweet potatoes, onions, and bell peppers may be mashed together with one whole egg, vegetables, and spices to create one-skillet meals that are simple to prepare. Fresh black pepper should also be added.
- Leftovers: The meal you cooked last night is begging to be eaten. You’ve got quinoa already cooked–throw it on some salad greens and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar for a balanced dish.
- Peanut butter: A simple but hearty sandwich on whole-grain toast is the perfect meal to replenish your nutrients after a workout. It’s packed with protein, healthy fats, and fiber – everything you need to help your muscles recover.
- Power smoothie: To make this smoothie, gather your favorite fruit, non-fat Greek yogurt or dairy that you can tolerate, some water, and ice. If you want to increase the healthy fats in this drink, add a spoonful of your preferred nut butter.
- Wraps: An easy and delicious meal can be made with whole grain high, fiber wraps. All you have to do is add avocado, lean meat, greens, beans (or anything else that goes with the wrap), roll it up, and enjoy.
After working out, you must try different foods to see what works best for you. A plan for what you will eat before and after working out is essential if you want success.
Frequently Asked Questions About Best Post-Workout Meal For Muscle Gain
After an exercise, you should have a healthy balance of protein and carbohydrates. Lean meats, such as fish and poultry, and grains, such as quinoa, are excellent sources of post-workout protein. Include avocados and leafy greens for added vitamins and nutrients in your post-workout meals.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to recover after a workout, try making a smoothie. You can either use low-fat Milk and Fruit or make it with Yogurt and berries. Another great option is to have turkey in a whole-grain wrap with some veggies.
Bananas are an excellent post-workout recovery snack. They can help reduce inflammation and replenish muscle glycogen stores. This will help you recover quickly so you can continue to work out. Bananas are also good to eat before or during a workout because they provide energy and help your muscles function better.
After you work out, it is a good idea to eat something within 30 minutes. This will help your body refuel and repair the damage done to your muscles. You should eat foods that have carbs and protein in them.
After a workout, carbs can help you feel more energized. Energy and fatigue-fighting properties are provided by these foods. Whole grains like quinoa, oats, brown rice and others are healthy choices.
Some good post-workout meal and snack ideas include an egg omelet with avocado spread on whole-grain toast, Salmon with sweet potato, tuna salad sandwich on whole-grain bread, tuna and crackers, and Oatmeal with whey protein, banana, and almonds.
If you have been exercising or sweating heavily, it is essential to consume drinks to stay hydrated. When you’re hydrated, your muscles are flexible, you’re stronger, and you don’t get as sore. Drink at least 16 ounces of water or other healthy drinks like coconut water, green or black tea, and chocolate milk.