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How soon after a workout should I eat Protein?

If you have been working out for a while now and are looking for results, what you get up to in the gym is important. However, what you may not know is that what you do after your workout is complete may be more significant than you realize. According to many fitness experts, the worst thing that you can do after a grueling workout session is fail to replenish your body.

As a matter of fact, experts state that if you fail to refuel within 30minutes of completing your workout, you might as well have skipped that workout as it does not count. After using up its reserves of available energy, the body needs to be refueled; and not just with anything. It especially needs carbs and protein so that energy levels can come back up and so that the micro-damage done to your muscles by exercise can be repaired.

Let’s face it though- in today’s contemporary social world, we often find ourselves busier than we would like. Sometimes finding time to work out means that you have to get everything done in a 30-minute window before you are forced to rush off to your next errand or appointment. If you do not have access to a handy snack or a good protein bar nearby, replenishing your body with those vital nutrients may not actually be possible.

If skipping a post-workout meal becomes a habit, you may be putting your fitness goals at risk and in the long run, you will end up feeling crummy and foggy as a result. So what happens when you do not eat soon after a workout session?

Your micro tears do not get repaired

When working out, especially during strength training, you are effectively breaking down muscle and generating small micro-tears. Your body, therefore, requires a snack with sufficient amounts of protein in it so that the repair process for the small tears can be triggered. The closer you eat protein after a workout, the easier it is for the rebuilding process to begin.

You will start to feel tired and foggy soon after

If you do not start the recovery process with food soon after a workout, you will start feeling foggy or fatigued. Some people also feel disoriented as a result of low blood sugar. If you make it the norm, it could actually get in the way of your progress as it could make you weaker, in the long run, owing to over-exertion and muscle damage. 

Refusing to replace essential building blocks as quickly as recommended can become a problem especially during muscle-building activities. The tears that occur must be fixed as this is how the body progressively builds more muscle. As such, failing to replenish puts you at risk of further muscle damage during your next workout session.

Continued water and electrolyte loss

As well as requiring a heavy protein meal or snack following a heavy workout session, there are a couple of more reasons why your body needs to be refueled immediately after a workout. Sweating a lot during a workout means that you lose huge amounts of water as well as electrolytes. If you do not restock these, you will soon start to feel dehydrated, which will most likely leave you feeling fatigued and faint.

Failure to reload will most certainly affect your mood levels

Failing to eat after working out will also affect your overall mood. Exerting yourself during physical exercise causes your glucose levels to drop. Glucose is not only critical for proper brain function but your energy levels as well. 

Low brain function impacts your mood and concentration levels negatively so you want to do everything in your power to take advantage of your post-exercise high by replenishing your glucose levels with a well-balanced meal.

What are the best ways to refuel and replenish after a workout?

Protein is vital for muscle repair and growth to take place. As such, it goes without saying that individuals that exercise require more protein than people who don’t. Drinking a protein shake within 30 minutes of completing your workout will maximize your results. 

The 30minute window after exercise often referred to as the anabolic window, is a short period whereby your muscles are like a sponge waiting to absorb as much protein as it can. If you fail to consume some form of protein during the anabolic period, your body will not be able to effectively utilize carbs for recovery or muscle building. 

Both plant and animal-based protein foods can help you meet your protein goal. However, you can also go for protein alternatives like protein coffee. As the name suggests, protein coffee is simply coffee that has been mixed with sufficient amounts of protein in it. 

Protein coffee is mostly available in the form of coffee rich protein powders that are mixed with water to make refreshing smoothies that can be consumed before and after a workout. Aside from aiding recovery and muscle growth, protein coffee also helps your workouts by boosting your metabolism and alleviating pain so that you can focus better on your workouts.

A post-workout smoothie that consists of carbs and protein can also help you refuel. When making your smoothie, ensure that it has been made with ingredients that are easy to digest; the easier it is to digest, the more effective it will be. 

As a rule of thumb, try to avoid eating meat or other heavy proteins as they generally take longer to digest than most other proteins. As always, do not forget to drink copious amounts of water after exercise to rehydrate and keep your electrolyte levels up. 

Just because you complete your workout does not mean that the body stops operating. Replenishing after a workout is just as important as the exercise itself as proper nourishing will help you get the most out of your sweat sessions ensuring that you reach your goals and that you get the body that you have been longing for.

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