Most bodybuilders and fitness competitors who hit the gym are trying to build muscle mass. Hours and hours may be spent in the gym lifting weights but if the post nutrition meal is off balance, most of the effort placed in the gym has been wasted, or at the least, not as beneficial as it could be.
During an intense workout, the body breaks down muscle glycogen in addition to muscle protein structures to provide energy. Following the workout, the body needs to replenish those energy stores and repair and regrow muscle tissue. To do this, you need to consume a balanced meal with the proper amount of carbohydrates, fats and protein to promote an increase in insulin. Insulin is responsible for directing carbs and amino acids into the muscles when they are depleted.
So, what is this proper formula for post workout nutrition?
Ideally you want to consume your post workout meal within 30-60 minutes after your last set in the gym. If you go any longer than 60 minutes your muscles will not receive the greatest benefit.
The post workout meal should contain about twice as much carbohydrate as protein. For example, if you eat 30g of carbs, be sure to include at least 15g of protein. Fat should be kept at a minimum, so avoid high fat foods such as nuts, butters, oils and high fat meats such as salmon and ground beef.
So how do you calculate this proper ratio in terms of what types of foods to eat? We at Competition Diet have done this process for you and have selected our favorite foods and meals for post workout nutrition.
Choose your favorite meal from below and eat enough to satisfy your hunger.
Chicken Stir Fry
Grilled chicken is an excellent source of amino acids and other important nutrients like B vitamins which aid in carbohydrate metabolism. Brown rice is generally regarded as a healthier option than white rice, but for a post workout meal the quicker the carbohydrate can reach your muscles, the better. So avoid brown rice and aim for white rice instead. Add steamed vegetables such as broccoli, sweet peppers or corn for additional flavor and nutrients.
Hummus and Pita
For vegans and vegetarians, getting adequate protein after a workout can be a hurdle. Even if you’re not vegetarian and want to incorporate more plant foods into your diet, hummus is just one example of a great alternative to meat. Hummus is made from chick-peas, also known as garbanzo beans, and is an excellent source of both protein and carbs. Combine with your favorite pita sandwich for a complete post-workout meal.
Ham, Egg and Toasted Bagel With Fruit Preserves
Bagels are dense in calories and complex carbs, while fruit preserves, jam or jelly is chock-full of essential minerals like potassium, an electrolyte responsible for maintaining muscle contractions. Combine the two with some protein-rich breakfast ham and eggs and you have yourself a dynamite combination of protein and carbohyrdates. Try them all stacked together as a sandwich or separately.
Tuna And Crackers
Tuna and crackers are another great post-workout snack for fitness fanatics on the move. Tuna is low in fat but packed with protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. On the flip side, crackers are a crunchy source of energizing carbs. If you can, skip the mayo and opt for some fresh lemon juice and a little mustard instead.
Tilapia, Mashed Potatoes And Salad
Like tuna, tilapia is another nutritionally powerful fish packed full of protein and omega-3s. Pairing tilapia with a side of mashed potatoes (easy on the butter!) is a great combination of quick absorbing nutrients. Try substituting the mashed white potatoes with sweet potatoes, which provide an abundant array of vitamins and minerals, they also have a slightly sweeter taste that some people prefer. A big, leafy green salad completes the meal and supplies adequate fiber, iron and fat-soluble vitamins.
The Old Fashioned Sandwich
Using white bread, deli meats and low-fat cheese to construct an old fashioned sandwich provides a great ratio of protein and carbohydrates. Try mustard, relish or hummus as an alternative to high fat mayonnaise.
Cereal And Skim Milk
Cereals are packed with B vitamins, niacin and fortified with Vitamin D. Protein-rich milk adds amino acids, whey and casein proteins. A great combination when you don’t have time to cook a meal or clean dishes.
Egg White And Vegetable Omelette
Egg protein is one of the most readily usable protein sources with a very high biological value among whole foods. Green vegetables are very alkaline, providing iron and other nutrients that help to speed muscle recovery and growth. Combine the two and you have the recipe for muscle mass. Scramble your eggs on the stovetop or cook them in the microwave, but try to refrain from using oils which are high in fat.
Fruit Smoothie with Protein Powder
Liquid meals are versatile, easily digested and convenient for those on the go. The variations are endless when it comes to fruit. Bananas are somewhat neutral tasting and add that creamy texture without all the fat. Try berries, apple, mango or pineapple for a tropical twist. Add a scoop of your favorite protein powder, skim milk or yogurt for amino acids and you have a great post workout meal that you can make in a snap, or bring with you wherever you go.
A post workout meal in itself. Chocolate milk is filled with both carbohydrates (from the milk sugar and chocolate) and protein (from the whey and casein) which makes it ideal for a quick meal on the go. No dishes, no clean up, no cooking. We don’t recommend using chocolate milk regularly as a post workout meal, but when short on time or have limited options available, chocolate milk is a viable option.