The key to building muscle and increasing lean muscle mass is to repair damaged muscle fibers following exercise. Your body’s ability to repair muscle and maintain muscle mass is dependent partly upon what you eat after you work out. These post-workout foods can help.
REPAIR MUSCLE WITH PROTEIN
As you read on, you will notice that protein is a key part of each post-workout snack or meal recommendation. This is because, as you work out, your muscles begin to break down.
What you eat after your muscles start to go through this process is important, as you need to do what you can to help your muscle fibers repair and grow stronger. Protein aids in this repair and supports muscle growth as you train your muscles to adapt to more resistance. Consume a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein by eating snacks and meals like the following.
The egg portion of this meal is obvious: eggs are a healthy protein source. So why toss in some vegetables, like spinach? One word: potassium. It’s a nutrient found in a lot of foods, but leafy greens like spinach are a worthwhile potassium source because you can easily combine it with other protein-rich foods (like eggs) to prevent muscle cramps and aid muscle repair.
CEREAL WITH BLUEBERRIES AND MILK
Whole-grain cereals contain the kind of carbs you want to digest after a workout. Adding blueberries to the mix provides your body with antioxidants, which basically help prevent your muscles from suffering even more damage from free radicals. Milk – skim milk, to avoid consuming unnecessary post-workout fat – is an excellent source of whey protein.
DRIED FRUIT AND NUTS
After a moderate or intense workout, you’ve long since depleted your glycogen stores. You need carbs – and fast. Simple carbohydrates like those found in fruit are quick to digest in your body. Eating a handful of dried fruit and nuts within 30 minutes of finishing your workout can help to spike your insulin levels and eventually balance out your blood sugar. Combine that with a little bit of protein from the nuts to start repairing your muscle fibers, and you’re good to go.
BAGEL WITH NUT BUTTER
While simple carbs are important, complex carbs also help maintain energy for longer. Add on a spread like almond butter, for example, and you have a protein and carb-rich snack. Some fats aren’t recommended post-workout, but the kind of fat found in nut butters – called monounsaturated fat – actually helps your body synthesize protein. It’s the same “good” fat found in avocados.
TUNA OR SALMON
Inflammation, which is often what’s going on beneath the surface when you have sore muscles, is common, but you can combat it and help your muscles recover by eating fish. Tuna and salmon are both fish containing protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids work to reduce inflammation, which allows for your muscles to repair and grow stronger.
Repair and grow your muscles by eating the right foods after you exercise so you can get more out of your training. A variety of foods high in protein and both simple and complex carbs after an intense workout is one of the best things you can do to continue progressing toward your mass and weight goals.