In last week's blog, I discussed optimal foods to eat before working out - but what about after?
Post-workout you need some healthy protein and a small amount of complex carbs to help your body restore energy, repair any micro-tears in your tissues after exercise, build muscle and increase your metabolism. Certain micro-nutrients such as potassium and fiber (found in bananas, avocados and coconut for ex.) are also hugely beneficial.
When it comes to differences between men and women, I mentioned in my last blog post that men generally need a bit more carbs. This is especially true post-workout. Also, studies show that women can wait longer post-workout before eating, but men benefit from eating right after exercising to maximize fat burning and muscle building.
Also, women should be conscious of their menstrual cycle. During the second half of our cycle (the 14 days before menstruation) when progesterone is higher, it’s important to get some extra protein to avoid break-down of amino-acids. During menstruation, it's good to get enough electrolytes to offset the loss in sodium and avoid cramping. Lastly, it's KEY to avoid putting too much stress on the body at this time, so women should increase their focus on stretching and relaxation post-workout particularly in the days right before and during menstruation.
Here are 5 of my favorite post-workout meals:
1. GREEN PROTEIN SMOOTHIE - made with a serving (or 2) of greens, fruit, healthy fats, and protein (such as organic vegan or whey protein powder).
NOTE: Choose a protein powder with NO soy, gluten, added sugars nor artificial ingredients. I tend to prefer dairy-free/vegan ones, but if you know you can tolerate dairy, organic whey is great especially for men, or generally people looking to build muscle. Some of my favorite protein powders include: Sun Warrior Blend (vegan), Vega Sport Performance (vegan, great for active people), Garden of Life (vegan), Tera’s Whey and Naked Whey (both grass-fed GMO-free whey). You can also use just pure hemp or pea protein.
2. HUMMUS (homemade or organic store-bought) with crudités (sliced carrots, celery and bell peppers)
3. VEGETABLE OMELET with a few slices of avocado.
4. SPROUTED GRAIN TOAST WITH ALMOND BUTTER and a sprinkle of flax or chia seeds. You may not know this but almonds, chia and flax seeds all contain protein (as well as a ton of fiber and Omega-3s!).
5. HANDFUL OF RAW NUTS/SEEDS or a small serving of home-made trail mix. This is a great snack after your exercise if you still have a few hours before your next big meal. (Note - this can also be an ideal pre-workout snack, especially if working out in the afternoon).
Lastly, I suggest drinking COCONUT WATER after working out. Coconut water is extremely high in potassium, an important electrolyte that is lost in sweat, and way more natural (and lower in calories) than most sports drinks. Just make sure to look for one that is pure coconut water (ideally organic), with no added sugars.
If you exercise after work, a snack might be unnecessary, but aim to have dinner within 30-45 minutes of working out, and don't forget your protein! If you want a light dinner (which I highly recommend if you're working out late), that can be as easy as adding some hemp seeds to your vegetable soup, or a very small serving of lentils or tuna to your green salad.
Just remember that these are general tips, but each person is different and it's important to pay attention to what makes your body feel best. If you want more support to figure out what foods, fitness and lifestyle habits are best for you, send me a message!
Love and Sports Nutrition,