Post-Workout Nutrition Simplified
Physical Activity Can Increase Muscle Protein Breakdown
Post-Workout doesn’t always just mean protein after a traditional gym workout. Workouts can go far beyond the gym and can include a diverse range of high-intensity activities in a multitude of places. Running on a nature trail. Hiking in scenic areas. Mountain biking on dirt roads. Practicing yoga. Doing an at-home workout. Jogging on a treadmill. Swimming laps in a pool. Water sports like kayaking. Playing tennis and other sports with friends. Even washing the car, gardening or doing housework can seem like a workout and count as physical activity! You may be participating in a variety of activities each day beyond the traditional gym workout. All types of activities have different levels of intensity and involve a variety of muscle groups. Regardless of activity, many healthy adults can benefit from learning about and implementing “post-workout” nutrition to their routine.
Why Nourish Your Body After Activity
Physical activity can increase muscle protein breakdown. Intense physical activity can lead to micro-damage or mini tears in the muscle fibers, however the degree to which the breakdown occurs depends on how rigorous the activity is as well as the level of exertion. This is a normal, temporary response to intense exercise. Each activity requires some level of nutrition to help support recovery – whether that’s with water, electrolytes, carbohydrates, protein, or a combination of some or all of these.
– Water and electrolytes help to support hydration
– Carbohydrates help to replenish glycogen stores and refuel the body
– Adding protein to your post-workout routine can help to support muscle recovery
Timing and Types of Protein
Protein can be beneficial following activity, however do not stress on consuming protein immediately post-workout. Muscle recovery may last for several days after intense exercise. Muscle protein synthesis (the process of muscle recovery and rebuilding) can remain elevated for up to 48 hours after exercise. Although muscle recovery is ongoing process, post-workout nutrition is a great fueling opportunity because muscles are especially receptive to protein following exercise.
For optimal post-workout nutrition support, aim to include a combination of protein plus carbohydrates. Choose complete, high-quality proteins to help support muscle recovery. Here are some examples:
– Fruit smoothie with added protein (greek yogurt, milk, nut butters or protein powder)
– Protein bar with a piece of fruit
– Turkey sandwich
– Tuna on crackers
– Omelet with veggies and a piece of toast
– Yogurt with granola
– Protein oatmeal
– Fruit with nut butter
– Hummus and pretzels
Consume protein at a time that is convenient for you. Whether you bring a protein bar on your hike, have a protein shake after jog or just have a protein-rich meal or snack at home. Do what works best for you!