How To Choose A Post-Workout Snack
After hitting the gym, your body is primed to absorb nutrients from a wholesome post-workout snack. Eating the right foods can have a huge impact on recovery and how you pull up the next day, but choosing the right ingredients is key! Here’s your go-to guide for the best nutrients to help build muscle, and boost fitness, while tantalising your taste buds.
To kickstart the muscle building process, your body needs protein, but much less than you think. Consuming 20 – 25g of protein within the first hour post-workout will maximally stimulate protein synthesis. That’s equivalent to two eggs on a couple of slices of wholemeal toast, or 200g Greek yoghurt with ½ cup natural muesli. A protein shake made with fruit and whey protein is also a perfect option as research shows dairy foods (including whey) contain high amounts of the amino acid leucine, which plays a critical role in ‘switching on’ the protein synthesis process.
Carbs are almost a dirty word these days, but they are essential if you want to you want the most out of your workout. When combined with protein, carbohydrates spike a hormone called insulin, which shuttles amino acids from protein and glucose into your muscle cells to support muscle growth and repair, and replenish energy stores. Keep carbohydrate portions to approximately 30 – 40g post workout, and aim for whole food sources like fresh or dried fruit, which also contain other beneficial vitamins and minerals. This ensures a speedy recovery so you’ll be faster and stronger next time you work out.
After intensive training, the immune system becomes suppressed for a few hours, making you more susceptible to feeling run down. Vitamin C rich foods enhance many functions of the immune system, so are ideal to include in your recovery snack to stay sniffle free. Although oranges do contain a good dose of this vitamin, it can also be found in kiwi, strawberries, and an array of vegetables such as broccoli, kale, tomatoes and red capsicum.
A Long or intense workout can lead to oxidative stress, which essentially is an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the amount of antioxidants available to neutralise their effects. That’s why it’s important to support your body with a hefty dose of antioxidants by loading up on fresh fruits and vegetables post workout and throughout the day. Foods such as berries, dark leafy greens, and purple coloured vegetables like eggplant boast a huge variety of different vitamins and minerals that act as antioxidants in the body to counteract free radical damage and protect our health.
Bottom line? Getting the right nutrients is key, but proper portions matter, too. Be aware of serving sizes and stick to one snack post workout.