Regardless of the purpose of physical activity, a post-workout meal is essential because it is crucial for body regeneration. Compensates for energy, water and electrolyte losses that occur during exercise. In addition, it increases efficiency, inhibits muscle breakdown and promotes muscle protein synthesis and glycogen reconstruction. It also counteracts injuries and strengthens the body’s immunity. What to eat after a workout?
When to eat a meal after training
Natural regeneration of the body after exercise lasts about 2 days. Research indicates that eating a properly balanced meal up to 2 hours after training significantly improves this process.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for working muscles. In the digestive tract they are digested into glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream in this form. The body stores glucose in the form of liver or muscle glycogen. When your blood glucose drops, your body begins to use energy from liver glycogen. Muscle glycogen is used only for muscle work. During intense physical effort, the body uses these reserves, which should be rebuilt after exercise.
Rebuilding glycogen occurs the fastest immediately after physical activity. Therefore, it is recommended to consume carbohydrates within 30 minutes after training. The sooner a meal is eaten, the faster the regeneration processes will start. It should be noted, however, that the fast supply of carbohydrates after training is only important for people whose interval between individual training sessions is shorter than 24 hours. It doesn’t matter much if it’s longer.
For daily high-intensity workouts, it is recommended to choose carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, because they are released quickly into the blood. Products rich in them are e.g. dried fruit, bananas, grapes, 100% fruit juice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, white bread, white rice, rusks. For low or medium intensity workouts performed every few days, it is better to choose carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, such as whole grain cereals or non-starchy vegetables.
The amount of carbohydrates that should be consumed depends on the intensity of the workout. The more intense the activity, the more carbohydrates should be provided with a post-workout meal. The fastest rate of glycogen replenishment is observed with a supply of carbohydrates in the amount of 1.0-1.85 g / kg body weight per hour. The presence of carbohydrates is important not only immediately after training, but also in subsequent meals throughout the day.
The importance of protein after training
Protein is the basic building block of the body. Every intense training is associated with the breakdown of this macromolecule. The processes of decay take place some time after the end of the effort. The supply of protein in a post-workout meal guarantees that this process is inhibited and that muscle tissue is kept constant.
In the digestive tract, protein is broken down into its constituent elements, i.e. amino acids. They are absorbed into the bloodstream and used for the synthesis of intra-body protein. The regulation of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) determines the maintenance and growth of muscle proteins. This process is powered by proteins supplied to the body with food. MPS is a short-term process and lasts up to 4-5 hours after a meal. Physical activity contributes to the prolongation of protein synthesis and an increase in its intensity. The recommended dose of high-quality protein for athletes is in the range of 1.2-2.0 g per kg body weight. Protein should be evenly distributed over individual meals throughout the day. It is recommended to consume 20-25 g of protein with each meal.
The presence of leucine shows the greatest impact on post-exercise MPS regulation. Leucine belongs to the essential exogenous amino acids. In the group of athletes the phenomenon of so-called leucine threshold. For protein supplied from food to affect MPS, it must contain the right amount of leucine. The amount of leucine needed to reach the leucine threshold is very individual. It depends on the age and level of physical activity.