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SO HUNGRY! Best Food to Eat After a Workout

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How many times have you stared at the open fridge deciding what to eat? Following a workout, that can be especially frustrating.

I’m not going to state the obvious “don’t eat this” here. Nor am I going to talk about how an obscure diet is going to change your life. Rather, I’ll have you look at something that’s always been in front of you, but you just needed someone to point it out to you.

I’ll also talk about the whole-workout concept: before, during, and after your workout. Without further adieu: Best Food to Eat After a Workout.

Macros? What’s That?

Lots of intense fitness gurus swear by macros. These are your fats, carbs, and proteins. If you’re seriously lifting, training, or trying to lose weight you’ll need to pay attention to these. What you eat is absolutely paramount to your success in seeing results.

What should I aim for in each category? It depends. If you’re training more for runs, you’ll need more carbs (contrary to LOTS of diets…). Carbs are your energy source to help you get-up and go. Think of carbs as dry leaves on a fire: they’ll burn really quickly when you’re exerting lots of energy.

Fats are what your body needs to long-term energy. Think of this as your insulation to your house. If you have no fats, you won’t be able to adapt to changing environments or have the ability to engage long-term energy.

If you’re doing more lifting, then you’ll need more protein. Protein assists with building your muscles post-breakdown. When you workout, your muscles begin to tear. To help with that healing process, protein will assist with repairing those tears and make your muscles stronger.

OK, So What’s Most Important?

You’ll hear me saying this a lot. It’ll depend. A good rule of thumb is to have some carbs before a workout: a banana, piece of bread, apple, granola bar (may be too sugary), or crackers.

Any of these will help you get an energy boost prior to your workout to get you engaged.

During your workout (if you’re going for a few HOURS), you’ll want something more substantial. Many lifters will have protein shakes, another small carb snack, or a protein bar. I usually work out for about an hour a day, and I rarely eat something in the middle of the workout.

The only time I will eat during my workout is when I’m going for long distances or working out for a long time. That time duration will depend on you, but figure out what works for you. If you’re feeling fatigued during your workout, you probably need to eat something.

Post-workout is usually something with protein. Some will say 30-60 minutes after your session you should be consuming protein. But, before you race over to the store to get a supplement, just hold on.

Don’t rely solely on supplements. They have their place, but you need to eat. Supplements are just that: supporting your diet already. Make sure you eat balanced meals.

Eat eggs, drink milk, sausage, ham, turkey, chicken, peanut butter, fish and nuts. These are great sources of protein for after workouts. For the vegetarians out there, have some lentils, black beans, or tofu.

If you’re just starting out your fitness journey, just keep it simple. There are tons of macros counters out there but make it easy on yourself and just eat right and establish a healthy pattern. After you’ve established that pattern, then start macros counting.

Should I Skip Meals for Weight Loss?

If you’re working out to lose weight and you’re trying to cut caloric intake, I don’t recommend skipping meals.

Here’s why.

When you eat all of your calories at one part of the day, then your body doesn’t have anything to go on during the other parts of the day. Fatigue sets in and you’re less productive during those parts of the day when you need the energy the most. In Europe, usually the big meal is lunch. But there’s usually a sizable dinner as well.

Try instead to eat mini meals throughout the day. Do 5-6 smaller meals to spread out your calories. After workouts, you need to eat ABSOLUTELY! That is paramount to your fitness progression.

Preparing For Your Workout

You need to prepare for each workout at least a day in advance. WHOA! That’s crazy! I don’t mean that each workout gets its own special treatment. I mean that the food and liquids you intake the day before should enhance your well being for your next workout.

Here’s your criteria.

If you feel good after eating/drinking it, then keep eating/drinking it. If not, then don’t do it. Instead of giving you a laundry list of what to eat or not go with that simple rule of thumb. It bears repeating:

If you feel good after eating/drinking it, then keep eating/drinking it. If not, then don’t do it.

Ensure you’re drinking plenty of fluids the day before your workouts. You’ll find yourself being able to recuperate better following your workout session if you’re drinking plenty before, during, and after.

That’s It?

Yep, pretty much. I feel like food and what to eat is more about how you feel when you’re eating. We generally understand what we should avoid: fast food, fried stuff, and lots of sweets.

Also, we understand that fruits and veggies are good for us and that we should eat mostly those. So, instead of looking for a list of things that you probably do not eat (or aren’t interested in eating), look at what you already do eat.

Is this food high in carbs? Is it a good source of protein? Does it have some fats in it? If it meets the criteria you’re looking for, then keep it. If it doesn’t, ask yourself if you really want to keep consuming this food.

If you keep within your habits, you’re more likely to start making little changes with your diets. Vice, if I tell you a list of foods that you should be eating, and then you feel guilty that you’re not eating those things. Let’s not do that.

Stick with your current food set. Find what works for you. Then eat. And remember:

If you feel good after eating/drinking it, then keep eating/drinking it. If not, then don’t do it.

Let me know what you think below! If you have some food recommendations, what are they? How have you incorporated your eating habits into your workouts? Alright, Garage Gym Goers thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!


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Bobby

8 Comments

  1. Those are some great points! I’m training for some races and am starting to run longer distances…longer than I’m used to running. How much do you recommend eating after a long workout (an hour or longer)?

    • Stephanie!
      I’m glad you’re prepping for your races! Don’t worry about how much to eat. Rather eat until you’re full. You’re body will tell you how much it needs by feeling hungry later in the day. So, be prepared with extra snacks/meals throughout the day. If you do that then you’ll avoid over/under eating when preparing for your races. Thanks for your comment!

  2. I always have a big appetite after working out, but seriously good advice to get in an energy boost before the work out. There have been so many days that I’ve completely fizzled out mid-session and realized I didn’t eat enough earlier that day to sustain what I was trying to accomplish. Thanks for all the ideas!

    • Ashley,
      Absolutely! A lot of times we forget about that before workout. It’s so important that we prepare for each workout by the things we eat. Thanks for your comment!

  3. What’s your opinion on Protein intake for someone that’s just trying to stay lean? Immediately after a workout and how much? Does it replace a meal?

    • Alex!
      Great questions! Protein by itself should just be a supplement to what you’re already eating. For example, I’ll have eggs in the morning with a cup of milk with one scoop of protein powder. That supplement just rounds out my breakfast. And it can be the same for you. To stay lean, keep it simple with your protein; maybe once per day is sufficient since you’re trying to stay lean. I’m the same way. I’m not trying to bulk up, so one scoop of protein powder per day has done me a lot of good, especially after a workout. I hesitate to use protein as a replacement meal just because your body needs more than just that protein supplement. If that’s part of your diet plan, then go for it. Otherwise, just stick to your normal eating habits, add a protein supplement, and make dietary changes as needed. Let me know if that answers your question 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  4. Hi, Bobby.
    Wow, and thank you for this great post; what an eye-opener for me! Now I finally figured why I’m always so hungry after my 4-hour nature jogs on weekends.

    I do eat before, not much but just enough to keep my stomach from growling. I never take anything with me for the road though, and that’s where I make my mistake.

    Thank you so much for pointing this out. I’ve always been under the impression that it’s not a good idea to consume food during your workout.

    I can’t remember exactly where, but I read that someplace a few years ago and stuck to this “rule.”

    I will change this now, thanks to you, and I’m certain that I won’t be hugging my fridge after my prolonged sports routines anymore.

    Thank you so much for the clarification, as I really was looking for an answer regarding this issue.

    Warm regards,

    Alexandra

    • Alexandra,
      I’m glad you got some great things from the post! It’s good to eat a little if you’re doing a lot of exercise. For example, marathon runners will have some gel packs or jellybeans to eat during a race. Similarly, we should be eating a little while doing some rigorous activity. I normally don’t eat if I’m just doing a 45 minute to an hour workout, but any more than that I’ll need something extra for sure! I look forward to hearing from you in the future!
      Bobby

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