You’ve been hitting the gym regularly and amped up your routine, but you haven’t seen the results you’re looking for.
Your post-workout food choices may be the reason. Having healthy snack options on hand to refuel after a workout plays an important part in ensuring you get the most out of your fitness routine.
Once your sweat session stops, your body begins the recovery process. Your tissues begin to rebuild and replenish themselves, and the right post-workout nutrition can help you achieve your fitness goals.
Post Workout Snacks: Protein for Recovery
Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle mass or increase your endurance, carbohydrates, and proteins are an essential part of the recovery process. Exercise of any kind depletes a significant amount of stored fuels, such as glycogen and amino acids, that need to be restored. Carbohydrates are used for energy and restoring glycogen, while proteins restore amino acids and repair tissue that was torn during your workout.
There are no hard rules since everybody is different, and the relative ratio of carbohydrates to proteins your body needs can change based on your training goals. If your goal is to build cardiovascular endurance, something close to a 1:1 ratio of proteins to carbohydrates would be ideal.
Pack On Lean Muscle
If your goal is to build muscle mass, you will want to refuel with a snack that is closer to a 2:1 ratio of proteins to carbohydrates. The increased amount of protein will provide your body with the amino acids necessary to create muscle tissue and help you achieve your goals.
Now that we know the importance of carbohydrates and protein, let’s dive into some good sources of each. Not all proteins and carbohydrates are created equal. The best sources for protein are “complete” proteins.
Most complete proteins are animal proteins like beef, eggs, and dairy; but, there are options for vegetarians and vegans as well, including: algae, hemp seed, buckwheat, and quinoa. These are great to keep in mind when you are looking for high protein snacks.
As far as carbohydrates, “simple” carbohydrates are more easily digestible than “complex” carbohydrates, making them a better choice for post-workout. Fruits, such as bananas, are a great example of “simple” carbohydrates to include in a post-workout snack.
No matter your goals, dietary restrictions or time constraints, there are plenty of great options for you. Do you squeeze your workout into a busy time of day? The following snacks are great for anyone in a hurry. These grab-and-go choices in the picture above provide both protein and carbohydrates to kick-start the recovery process.
Are shakes and smoothies more your style?
Shakes are a great high-protein, low-calorie post-workout snack–not to mention they’re portable, convenient and quickly digestible. If you’re making your own, there are multiple kinds of protein powders available, each with their own benefits. The following breakdown can help you determine which kind is right for you.
A combination of different types of protein could also work, depending on your goals.
- Whey protein powder is currently the most commonly used protein powder. It is a milk protein that is relatively inexpensive, effective, and widely available. It comes in many flavors, allowing you to make a variety of smoothies. It also bakes well into recipes like pancakes and brownies.
- Casein protein breaks down more slowly than some other types of proteins, over the course of several hours. It's an excellent choice for people who want to take protein right before they go to bed.
- Hemp protein is plant based, and can often be found in organic forms. It's a popular choice for those who want a plant-based source for their protein.
- Brown rice protein is another highly-digestible, plant-based protein that can be an excellent choice for vegetarians, who may not have a lot of options.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different recipes and products to see what works for you. Based on these guidelines, you can make educated choices and tweak them to your individual needs in order to enhance your performance.
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