As important as the workout itself is the recovery and repair process. You’ll tear your muscles during your workout, so it’s important to rebuild them stronger and bigger as they heal. To build muscle after your workout, you have to give your body the resources it needs to recover, and that includes choosing the best after workout foods. There’s no doubt that some options are much better than others. In this post, I’m going to tell you about the best foods to have after a workout.
Protein intake during workouts is crucial if you want to build muscle. This is because amino acids are muscle-building blocks. If you want to build muscle, you need a positive protein turnover rate. This means your body needs to add more amino acids to your muscles than it breaks down to build muscles. The anabolic window is a myth, which states that you should drink your protein shake as soon as possible after your workout.
Even though it isn’t true that you must consume protein immediately after a workout, you should aim to consume at least 20 grams of protein within an hour and a half after completing your workout, as it is an excellent guideline to follow. If you train fast, consuming protein sooner rather than later is better since you won’t have as many amino acids circulating in your body.
However, you can probably extend your workout even past the hour-and-a-half mark if you eat a lot of protein before. Generally, you should eat protein an hour and a half after finishing your workout. The best protein source is whey protein. Whey protein has a fast digestibility rate, which makes it great for training on an empty stomach. That is because it will digest quickly and produce a rapid spike in amino acids that will be immediately available for your body to use to repair and rebuild muscle cells.
Consequently, whey protein stimulates muscle fiber synthesis, which is how you build new muscle fibers. You’ll be able to digest it faster than slower-digesting proteins like casein. One of the best things about whey protein is that it’s a great source of leucine. This is one of the most important amino acids for muscle growth. Leucine activates mTOR, which builds muscle. Whey protein shakes are an excellent post-workout protein source, especially if you’re short on time. Casein doesn’t have the same nutrition profile as whey, but if you train fast, you can use it instead.
In addition to being more effective than whey at preventing muscle protein breakdown, casein may be an even better choice if you don’t train on an empty stomach. For muscle building, we need to cut muscle protein breakdown and increase muscle protein synthesis.
Because casein digests slowly, it may be more beneficial for weight loss, as it keeps you feeling fuller for longer periods, thereby promoting fat loss more effectively. In a study comparing people who took either a casein supplement, a whey supplement, or a placebo after weight training, researchers found that those taking the casein supplement experienced more than double the amount of muscle growth compared to the whey protein group, and lost twice as much fat. It’s better to get casein than whey post-workout if you eat a pre-workout meal and don’t train fast.
You can grab whey and casein post-workout, and milk is also an excellent choice since it’s made from cow’s milk. Whole milk is also a great option for muscle protein synthesis. In a study published a few years ago, researchers found that drinking whole milk stimulated muscle protein synthesis to the same degree as whey protein. Even though whole milk contains less protein than skim milk, it stimulates muscle protein synthesis better. There is no doubt that whole milk is better than skim milk when boosting muscle growth and recovery.
The best thing you can do after training is to combine whey protein powder with some whole milk after your workout. This will boost your body’s fat-burning ability. However, you should note that skim milk may be a better choice if you want to lose weight by cutting calories and burning fat. It is also important to remember that milk is high in fat, which slows absorption. It is at this point that you should know that it will not be a problem for you if you have protein before your workout. However, if you prefer skim milk, you will be able to achieve the same results.
Just as whey protein is a great post-workout protein source, eggs are also a great source of protein if you train fast. They are very high in leucine, which, as I’ve already mentioned, is a key amino acid for muscle growth. Approximately three to four eggs are the only protein sources you’ll need to meet the minimum of 20 grams of protein you need to eat after working out. Eggs are also a good source of protein because they are easily digestible.
For most people, boiling a few eggs and then eating them after you finish training is much more convenient than lugging around a Tupperware box filled with chicken breasts or another protein source on your person.
In the past, there has always been this myth that raw eggs are the best way to eat or drink them, thanks to old-school bodybuilders. In comparison to cooked eggs, raw eggs were believed to be more beneficial for muscle growth after a workout. Although raw eggs were not recommended for taste, they were believed to promote muscle growth. It is a good thing, however, that you don’t have to gag when you consume raw eggs because that is not true.
In research studies, it has been found that up to 50% of the protein in raw eggs is not absorbed or digested by the small intestine. This means that if you ate raw eggs, you would need twice as much protein as cooked eggs. It’s all better than raw, whether you want it scrambled, sunny-side up, or over-easy.
Salmon is the next high-protein food to have after a workout. It has about 20 grams of high-quality protein per 100 grams, which is about three and a half ounces. It’s also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, so you’ll feel better after a workout with them.
This includes lowering cortisol, increasing testosterone, reducing muscle protein breakdown, boosting muscle protein synthesis, and increasing nutrient partitioning. This helps nutrients get to where they need to be. Besides being delicious with salmon, garlic contains allicin, a compound that reduces muscle soreness after a workout. There are also other good protein sources, like chicken and beef. In addition, there are plant-based sources for vegans and vegetarians, like seitan, beans, and tofu.
Consuming carbs post-workout can have anti-catabolic effects, reducing muscle protein breakdown. This is because your body responds to carbs by producing more insulin. In most cases, you’re not aware that insulin suppresses muscle protein breakdown. To get the maximum benefits, you’ll need insulin concentrations of 11, 15, or 30 milliliters per liter, depending on the study you’re looking at. Those aren’t big numbers, but if you eat, say, 100 grams of carbs after a workout, your insulin will spike enough to stop muscle protein breakdown. This is according to a study in The Journal of Applied Physiology.
Many trainers recommend that you have carbs as well as protein after your workout. What they fail to realize, however, is that protein also increases insulin levels. According to research, 20 grams of protein can exceed the insulin threshold and reduce muscle protein breakdown if consumed in large quantities. Therefore, from that perspective, it can be said that carbs are redundant when it comes to muscle growth and recovery if you already consume a sufficient amount of protein following an exercise session.
However, despite that, I still believe consuming carbs post-workout can be beneficial, especially if you’re in a bulking phase, as you’re attempting to consume more calories in the first place.
Carbs after a workout
A study from the University of Texas found that when you consume carbs right after a workout, they super compensate for your glycogen stores when you eat them at another time of day. If you eat carbs right after working out, you are more likely to build muscle glycogen than if you eat them at another time. Just by delaying your carb intake by two hours, you will be able to boost your muscle glycogen synthesis by 50%. You may not know this, but refueling your glycogen stores will give you more strength and energy for your next workout if you haven’t yet. You don’t need to eat carbs as a post-workout snack, but it could be useful sometimes, especially if you train multiple times a day when faster glycogen synthesis is very important.
Tart cherries & watermelon juice
Out of all the carb-rich foods available to you, tart cherry juice is the best carb source. I might even call it the absolute best because it speeds up recovery. As an example, multiple studies have shown that consuming tart cherries after resistance training reduces muscle protein breakdown and muscle soreness while speeding up recovery. This is quite impressive for a relatively simple carbohydrate.
In one of these studies, it was even concluded that tart cherries reduced muscle soreness, and strength losses during recovery, as well as markers of muscle breakdown. Watermelon juice is also a great carb-rich alternative to tart cherry juice, and it has several advantages.
According to researchers, athletes who were given two cups of watermelon juice after 24 hours recovered faster from muscle soreness and heart rate if they drank watermelon juice. Even though it might seem bad to reduce your heart rate recovery, it’s a good thing. Heart rate recovery is the time it takes for your heart rate to return to normal after stopping exercising.
It is generally accepted that the faster your breath and heart rate return to normal after drinking watermelon juice, the fitter you are considered. Watermelon juice has this effect due to the amino acid L-citrulline found in watermelon. By stimulating blood flow, L-citrulline helps you deliver amino acids to your muscles while also clearing waste products from your muscles, like lactic acid.
While both tart cherry and watermelon juice contain carbs, other healthy carbs are slower digesting, and filling, and have more fiber. Oats are one of the best choices. 66 grams of carbs are in a cup of oats, so that’s a lot. Therefore, it’s a much more carb-dense food source than tart cherry and watermelon juice. Also, oats are packed with protein. Just 100 grams of raw oats contain almost 17 grams of protein, which is a decent amount of protein when it comes to food.
This is a lot of protein for a carb source. However, keep in mind that oats are not a great substitute for high-quality protein sources like the ones I mentioned above. It is important to note that oats will not provide all the amino acids you need. However, if you are vegan, you can combine oats with other sources of amino acids to get the full spectrum of amino acids. Another effective way to get electrolytes is to eat bananas.
For those of you who are unaware, electrolytes are chemicals in your body that have an electric charge in them and are lost through sweat and muscle contractions.
They are beneficial after a workout because they get lost through sweat and muscle contractions. Several electrolytes are very important for a wide variety of bodily functions, such as muscle recovery and ensuring your muscles contract correctly. These include sodium, magnesium, potassium, and chloride. It is for this reason that a deficiency in one or more electrolytes can lead to muscle cramps.
This is why it is crucial to take in enough electrolytes, particularly after working out where you sweat a lot, to prevent that from happening.
The best way to accomplish this is by eating bananas, which are high in potassium and magnesium. A medium-sized banana provides 8% of your daily magnesium and potassium needs. Bananas are a high-quality, fast-digesting carb source that provides 28 grams of carbohydrates.
Besides eating bananas, it is also very important to stay hydrated. Water is the final thing you need to consume post-workout, and even though I mention it at the end, that does not mean it’s less important. For your health and results, it is essential to replenish sweat fluids.
In other words, dehydration reduces muscle hypertrophy by lowering muscle protein synthesis while raising protein breakdowns. To make matters worse, a study found that even a five percent dehydration rate significantly reduced testosterone after resistance training. It also increased cortisol and norepinephrine. In other words, if you don’t drink enough water during and after your workouts, you will not make as much progress as you might otherwise.
In conclusion, choosing the best after-workout foods is crucial for optimizing recovery and maximizing fitness gains. These foods should focus on replenishing energy stores, repairing muscles, and supporting the body’s recovery processes. Among the best after-workout foods, protein-rich options such as lean meats, eggs, or plant-based alternatives play a vital role in muscle repair and growth. Additionally, incorporating carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, or vegetables helps restore glycogen levels and refuel the body. Healthy fats, like avocados or nuts, aid in nutrient absorption and provide sustained energy. Hydration through water or electrolyte-rich beverages is also essential. By prioritizing these best after-workout foods, individuals can enhance their post-exercise recovery and optimize their fitness journey.