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What Your Body Needs After a Workout and How to Get It

  • Healthy Eating
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Whether you've just started getting into a workout routine or you exercise everyday, you've likely heard a variety of opinions about what's important to eat after a workout. Some people prefer minimal meals because they don't want to put back on the calories they just burned, while others load up on protein. Like with many aspects of wellness, the key to post-exercise eating is balance. Having too little or too much after any type of workout can be counterproductive and damaging to your body. Consuming the right nutrients within the first hour following your workout however, can have a great impact on your muscles and your health. Make sure you focus on these when planning your post-exercise routine. 

Many people know that protein is important for building muscle, but why and how much? As Men's Fitness magazine explained, protein provides muscles with the amino acids they need for growth. After a workout, giving your body protein can help your muscles grow and capitalize on your hard work. Some people know this and choose to overload on protein, specifically whey, which is processed quickly. But the magazine explained that a complex group of proteins being processed at a varied rate is best and eating excess protein isn't helpful. Protein can be a useful aspect of a post-workout meal, but it shouldn't be the only ingredient and isn't needed in quantities larger than recommended.

Some fitness fanatics are hesitant to consume carbohydrates after a workout, because they don't want to put on fat, but carbohydrates are an important fuel source for the body's healthy function and won't be stored as fat if consumed at the correct rate. The Naval Medical Center San Diego explained that glycogen is a form of carbohydrate and the fuel for muscles to function. Without replacing the glycogen lost from exercising, people will lose energy and not be functioning optimally.

Electrolytes and water 
Electrolytes, including sodium and potassium, as well as water are critical to the healthy function of the human body. When you exercise, you lose electrolytes and dehydrate through your sweat. Make sure you work to replenish these nutrients after your workout to rebound.

Consume these nutrients in style 
Taking these nutrients in as liquid can help them be digested faster because they don't need to be broken down by the stomach like solid food, Argonne National Laboratory's NEWTON program explained. When you get home from the gym or a run, put some tasty ingredients in your personal blender for a quick and easy post-workout smoothie. Include bananas for potassium, protein powder for muscle building, lowfat yogurt for carbs, and anything else for vitamins and taste. Have it alone or as part of a protein-rich chicken dinner.