Arguably, the most important meal of your day is your post-workout meal. Once you have finished a workout your body is depleted of energy, or more specifically muscle glycogen. Muscle is built through rest and repair, not the actual work in the gym, so to properly refuel your body you need to follow a few basic guidelines to ensure proper post-workout nutrition.
1) Eat Carbs
Once you eat carbs they are broken down and stored as energy (glycogen). After your workout the glycogen will rush to your muscle to replenish what you lost while you were working out. There are two different kinds of carbs. Complex carbs that absorb at a slow rate and simple carbs that absorbs almost immediately and turn into glycogen. Normally throughout your day complex carbs, like oatmeal brown rice and whole grain breads, are what you want to eat. After a training session, however, simple carbs, such as candy, breakfast cereals and PowerAde are all choices that are OK.
2) Eat high quality protein
Protein is essential after your workout; it helps to repair the muscle fibers that you just finished breaking down. Choosing the right protein source is important. You want a fast-absorbing protein that will start to digest right away. Whey protein, chicken, pork and eggs are all good choices for when you’re done hitting the gym.
Avoid fat: Although healthy fats, such as almonds, animal fats and coconut oil, are important to hormone production and overall health, right after a workout is not the time to have them. Fats slow down the digestion rate of protein and carbs, which is what you are trying to avoid.
3) Cheat meals after your workout
This is something that I have experimented with recently. After my leg day (the most taxing workout for me) I will treat myself to something really high in carbs and protein. IHOP or pizza has always been my go-to. Now, I don’t recommend this for everyone. If you are still new to working out and nutrition then having a big cheat meal post workout may not be the best choice for you. If you have some decent muscle mass and are trying to gain some weight, then this method is something I have found to be helpful. Of course this may not be recommended by a lot of people, but it is something that has helped me.