The post-workout meal is the most important meal of the day, specifically for those people looking to build lean muscle. Many people fail to supply their body with the proper nutrients after a workout, which can explain why there is a lack of muscle growth for many of these people and less energy throughout their day.
The main rule of thumb is to always consume protein and carbohydrates immediately after a workout and negate eating any kind of fat for at least one hour.
Simply put, fat slows down the digestion of protein and carbs. Your post workout meal should be designed to promote the most rapid delivery of protein and carbs; therefore fat should be avoided during this time. Protein provides the amino acids necessary to rebuild muscle tissue that is damaged during exercise. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in muscle cells. During exercise, the glycogen levels deplete and an intake of carbs is needed to replenish the body. Neglecting carbs in the post-workout meal could result in muscle breakdown and added fatigue.
Carbohydrates are needed immediately after a workout to achieve that necessary insulin spike. Insulin “opens” cells up to the nutrients in the blood stream. A strenuous workout depletes amino acids, glucose, and glycogen stored in the muscles. For this reason, it is recommended to consume both protein and carbs together immediately following a workout. Spiking your insulin levels ensures that the muscle cells uptake the glucose and amino acids that they need to refuel and repair, thus improving recovery.
Now that you understand the importance of the correct post-workout nutrition, here are four different options for meals that you should consume after your workout:
1. Eggs on White Toast with Hot Sauce
Eggs have a biological value of 94%, meaning that 94% of the caloric value is actually digestible. This is the highest biological value of any protein source, which means that the body will use and digest almost all the protein in the egg. White toast is a fast digesting carb that will immediately give you that necessary insulin spike.
2. White Rice with Grilled Chicken & Teriyaki Sauce
White rice is another fast acting carb and the grilled chicken is an excellent source of protein.
3. Pancakes and a Side of Greek Yogurt with Strawberries and Blueberries
The pancakes and fruit will give you those fast digesting carbohydrates with the Greek yogurt making an excellent source of protein.
4. Tuna fish (no mayo) on Pita Bread with Tomatoes and a side of Baked Potato
At almost 40 grams of protein per can, tuna fish has all the essentials to be the perfect muscle building food. The pita bread and baked potatoes add some quick digesting carbs.