Basically there seems to be two types of people when it comes to eating after a workout. The ones that don't eat anything and the ones that eat right away. The 'Non-Eaters' will eat later in the day but will treat themselves to sweets/alcohol/chips because they feel this is ok since they already exercised. The ones that eat right away finish their workout and simultaneously consume a protein bar (or small meal) and a post-workout shake within 5-15 minutes after their workout is over. Although better than not eating at all, this consumption can have more of a positive effect on their workouts if the timing is altered.
For the first thirty minutes after a workout your body is still ready to exercise ... your muscles have been innervated, they are ready to be pushed, and are not ready to begin the repairing phase just yet. However, thirty minutes after workout is over your muscles relax and begin to repair themselves. This is when one would want to consume protein, because protein aids in the muscle rebuilding process. So, if you consume your post-workout protein beverage 30 min to 1 hour after your workout, you will be helping your muscles rebuild during their peak rebuilding process while maximizing the benefits of the protein you're consuming.
Phase 2 consumption should 2-3 hours after workout concluded. Here you should eat a regular meal (with high quality protein in it) to continue aiding in the muscle rebuilding process. Do not 'treat' yourself to sweets or alcohol or junk food because your muscles still need protein at this point. High quality carbs fond in vegetables and fruits should be part of this meal as well. Remember 'You Are What You Eat'? That is especially true on the days when you exercise. If you control your consumption and the timing of it after a workout, your results will come faster than you expect.
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