As a Registered Dietitian and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, I am often asked several questions regarding nutrition before, during, and after exercise. Questions such as “what should I eat before a long run?” and “what should I eat after a resistance training session?” are great questions, but knowing what to eat and when to eat (known as “nutrient timing”) can be somewhat confusing for many athletes and laypersons alike. To make nutrition for performance less confusing, I have come up with some quick tips for proper nutrient timing and my top meals and snacks to eat to fuel you for your next long run, training session or competition.
Today, I am going to talk about what and when to eat after exercise. This meal is known as the “post” meal and serves to replenish your energy stores and help rebuild muscle tissue that was broken down during exercise. These smaller meals should be consumed within 1 hour of exercise and the size and contents of the meal depend on the intensity and duration of the workout / training session. These meals are necessary to replenish the glycogen (energy) stores that were used up during the workout / training session and should consist of at least a 2:1 carbohydrate –to-protein ratio (2g of carbs for every 1g of protein) and low-to-moderate in fat. The “window of opportunity” to replenish glycogen stores and rebuild skeletal muscle tissue is approximately 30-60 minutes following exercise, therefore it is important to consume this post-workout meal within 1 hour of exercise.
1) Yogurt parfait – 1 cup fat-free Plain Greek Yogurt topped with ½ cup berries and ¼ cup whole grain granola or oats.
2) “Last resort” options = 1 Rx Bar OR homemade “real food” protein shakes
Protein Shake ideas: Liquids are digested more quickly than solid foods, so post-workout shakes are an extremely effective way to deliver carbohydrates and proteins to muscle tissue within the “window of opportunity” – especially when whole foods cannot be consumed within an hour of exercise.
Example: Green Monster shake - Blend 4 cups spinach, ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup fat-free milk, 1 banana, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter with ice.
That's Post-Exercise Nutrition in a nutshell. While my tip and top picks may seem simple and easy to implement, refueling your body after exercise is incredibly important! Proper nutrition before, during, and after exercise is crucial to enhance performance and for overall health!
Hope today's nutrition tip was helpful! Please let me know if you have any further questions and if you have any topics you would like me to cover!