Recovery is, in many ways, just as important as how you exercise (and for how long!). In fact, eating a snack and rehydrating after working out can lead to serious improvements in your muscle gain ...
Recovery is, in many ways, just as important as how you exercise (and for how long!). In fact, eating a snack and rehydrating after working out can lead to serious improvements in your muscle gain or even decrease how long you have to spend recovering after an intense exercise session.
That said, certain foods provide more benefits than others. Consistently eating the right ingredients or supplements will provide better advantages for your post-workout recovery than eating whatever is in your cabinets.
With that in mind, let’s break down the 23 best post-workout foods and supplements for you to add to your post-exercise routine now.
As you probably already know, eating some protein after your workout can significantly improve your gains or help your muscles recover after intense exercise. That’s because exercise of any type breaks down muscle protein. This is core to how you build muscle in the first place.
When you exert your muscles, muscle fibers are torn. As your body recovers, it fills in the gaps with new muscle tissue, gradually resulting in bigger, stronger muscles with time.
No matter how well-trained or strong you are, muscle protein breakdown is inevitable after a workout. When you give your body the protein and amino acids needed to repair muscle tissues ASAP, you can see better results quickly.
Generally, it’s a good idea to consume between 0.14 and 0.23 g of protein per pound of body weight after a workout. Some other studies have indicated that ingesting between 20 and 40 g of protein is ideal, as this maximizes how well your body can recover after intense exercise.
While you can consume protein before a workout as well, odds are you’ll be a little hungrier after your workout compared to before. Plus, eating a snack or drinking a protein shake after your workout will prevent you from getting an upset stomach in the middle of your lifts.
Some of the best post-workout protein to eat include:
While protein is incredibly important as a post-workout macromolecule, so are carbohydrates. Why?
In a nutshell, your body uses glycogen (a kind of carb-based sugar) as fuel whenever you exercise, regardless of the exercise you perform. However, certain activities do deplete your glycogen stores more quickly. For instance, endurance exercises or sports will burn more glycogen than resistance training or weightlifting.
Regardless, you should consume between 0.5 and 0.7 g of carbs per pound of your body weight. Ideally, you should eat these carbs about 30 minutes after finishing your training to assist with glycogen resynthesis.
When you eat carbohydrates, your body can restore its stores of glycogen. This could prevent you from developing fatigue or exhaustion after exercise. It’s also extra-important to eat plenty of carbs if you exercise regularly, such as once per day.
Some studies indicate you should consume both carbs and protein after exercise for the best results. This can maximize carbohydrate and protein synthesis and allow your body to recover energy and muscle proteins simultaneously. When coming up with your snacks, make sure you eat carbs and proteins at a ratio of 3 to 1 carbs to protein.
Some of the best post-workout carbs to consume include:
Last but not least, you may also consider adding some fats to your post-workout snacks or beverages. Common wisdom suggests that fat can slow down your digestion and actually have negative effects.
While it’s true that fat will reduce how quickly your body absorbs any post-workout nutrients, it doesn’t reduce the actual benefits you get in aggregate. Furthermore, some studies show that macromolecules consumed with fat may have more effective muscle growth than raw proteins or carbs without fat as a transporting medium.
For instance, various studies have indicated that whole milk is better for promoting muscle growth compared to skim milk, likely due to whole milk’s fat content.
You should still generally try to keep your fat intake low relative to your consumption of carbs and protein. But ultimately, having a little fat with your post-workout snack or beverage won’t hurt your recovery results. In fact, it may have mild benefits.
Some of the best post-workout fats to consume include:
You might consider getting a trail mix for your post-workout snack, as this will include plenty of nuts and fruits for fast energy recovery. Alternatively, you can mix some of these fatty foods with your carbs and protein. Again, be sure only to eat a small number of fatty foods relative to your carbs and protein intake.
Aside from eating a snack or drinking a protein beverage, you might also consider taking supplements after your workout to maximize your recovery results or see better gains more quickly. Additionally, many post-workout beverages or shakes will include some supplementary vitamins or minerals to boost muscle strength, reduce recovery time, and more.
Even better, vitamin infusions, like the kind offered by Next Health, may occasionally include these additional ingredients as well. When taken properly, some post-workout supplements can majorly affect your workout results and overall energy levels.
Creatine is one of the most important post-workout supplements to prioritize. In a nutshell, your muscles have stores of creatine by default, but weightlifting and resistance training rapidly depletes these creatine stores.
As a result, absorbing creatine after your workout can help your muscles rebuild their stores of vital nutrients more quickly. Creatine is important since it can help your cells create ATP (the core energy unit of cellular respiration) more quickly, as well as provide ancillary benefits like:
In short, creatine may help your muscles build up more quickly. Even once you have built up your muscles, creatine can help those muscles bring more power to bear on your lifts.
Then there’s L-carnitine, a nutrient that can protect your muscles from suffering extra damage during an intense workout. According to some studies, L-carnitine may help to reduce post-workout muscle tissue damage by up to 40 percent or even more.
On top of that, LC may allow your muscle cells to respond more readily to testosterone by becoming more receptive to androgens (the kind of hormone testosterone belongs to). All in all, LC might help your muscles recover more quickly by preventing them from suffering as much damage during your workout reps.
L-glutamine is one of the most popular post-workout supplements, and for a good reason. It is a sometimes essential amino acid that your body naturally produces by default. However, your body can always use more of it, especially since it helps your body release natural growth hormones (vital for building muscle tissue).
Additionally, L-glutamine may assist with nitrogen retention and prevent your muscles from wasting energy. More specifically, it could increase the number of so-called “heat shock proteins,” resulting in better muscle gains and more explosive power during muscle exertion.
L-leucine is a vital amino acid, and some research suggests that it is the most anabolic and anti-catabolic of all branched-chain amino acids. Without getting too technical, this means it has a high potential to increase protein synthesis and decrease the rate of protein degradation in your body. With enough L-leucine, your body will build muscles more quickly and experience less muscle loss even after intense workouts.
Additional potential benefits of L-leucine include:
You can often find L-leucine in daily supplements, protein shakes, and other supplementary workout snacks.
Last but not least is whey protein isolate: a well-known and key ingredient in whey protein powders and workout shakes. After a big training session, whey protein isolate is one of the best protein sources to eat.
Why? Whey protein isolate gives your body plenty of amino acids to work with when your muscle tissues are freshly torn and in need of repair. Your body very rapidly assimilates it compared to other amino acid types.
That’s partial because whey protein isolate has many branched-chain amino acids like L-leucine. In this way, simply drinking whey protein isolate in a shake or beverage could help you boost your body’s levels of this vital nutrient as well.
In most cases, exercisers can absorb post-workout nutrients in the traditional ways: by eating or drinking them through snacks or beverages like protein shakes.
You can also try IV therapy from wellness facilities like Next Health. IV therapy is advantageous because it provides vitamins and nutrients straight to your bloodstream via intravenous drips.
Normally, when you eat a snack or drink the beverage, any vitamins or nutrients have to go through your digestive system, then eventually be absorbed by your intestines. This can take up to a half-hour or even several hours, depending on the contents of the snack.
Furthermore, your digestive system may inadvertently break down some of the crucial vitamins and minerals, cheating you out of their benefits. In contrast, IV drip therapy from Next Health provides nearly instantaneous help to your body, giving your cells exactly what they need to recover and thrive after a workout.
IV drip infusions for weight loss, recovery, muscle growth, and more are available depending on whatever you need. Each post-workout IV session is quick, easy, and allows you to relax in a comfortable lounge chair while the drip does its work.
In the end, simply exercising at all will do wonders for your bodily fitness and muscle size. But consuming the right post-workout foods and supplements will significantly increase your:
Consuming the best post-workout foods and supplements can make a huge difference if you are building muscle for the first time or trying to maintain high muscle mass after reaching your personal goals.
Best of all, you don’t have to necessarily eat tons of snacks after your workout to get many of these vital nutrients. IV therapy from Next Health may be just the ticket if you’re looking to give your muscles what they need to thrive quickly and easily.
Contact Next Health today for more information about our revolutionary IV therapy.
International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing | NCBI
An abundant supply of amino acids enhances the metabolic effect of exercise on muscle protein | NCBI
An oral essential amino acid-carbohydrate supplement enhances muscle protein anabolism after resistance exercise | NCBI
Milk ingestion stimulates net muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise | NCBI
Androgenic responses to resistance exercise: effects of feeding and L-carnitine | NCBI
The Influence of Oral L-Glutamine Supplementation on Muscle Strength Recovery and Soreness Following Unilateral Knee Extension Eccentric Exercise | NCBI
The actions of exogenous leucine on mTOR signaling and amino acid transporters in human myotubes | NCBI