Lisa Stanton-Smith guides us through nutrition after an intense workout by breaking it down with easy to follow ideas.
Originally published here, this article has been republished with permission.
From a nutritional perspective, it is important post workout to refuel as soon as possible. Ideally this would be within 30 minutes of your session ending. This can be in the form of a snack or your next meal, depending on what time of day you train.
As far as specific nutrients, the most important is carbohydrates. This vital macronutrient is often neglected but is the primary fuel source for most people during exercise. Protein is the other macronutrient that is essential to consume in the post-workout window. Whilst protein is not (usually) utilised as a fuel source itself during training, it forms the building blocks to muscle regeneration and adaptation.
Quality is key over quantity: so enjoy a meal with a good source of protein, some vegies and some dense carbohydrates such as potatoes or grains. This is the perfect post-workout meal.
As far as micronutrients are concerned, sodium is the one lost in greatest amount during exercise. So don’t forget to add a little quality salt to your post workout meal, particularly if you’re a heavy sweater! This will also assist in re-hydrating (assuming you’re also taking in water).
Whilst many people (even elite athletes) are tempted to consume junk food after training as a reward for their hard efforts, this is the most crucial time to feed your body with good quality nutritional ingredients.