So, you finally have the motivation to get to the gym, now what? What do you eat to give your body the nutrients that it needs?
Two words: carbohydrates and protein. Our bodies are like machines, they use what you put into them. To build muscle, your body needs a sufficient amount of protein to bulk up.
High protein foods: Hard boiled eggs, greek yogurt, quinoa, edamame, nuts, veggies, turkey and other meats.
High carb foods: Brown Rice, whole grain bread, beans, whole grain pasta, sweet potato.
Having large meals after you workout is not as effective since your body floods with nutrients at a rapid pace rather than small increments of portioned protein and carbs. Those of us who don't have the budget to buy all of these items can use a protein supplement as a post workout.
Our bodies feel tired and sluggish after a workout, and as stated in an article on Livestrong, Megan Smith says that waiting 15 minutes after exercising is “the minimum amount of time before you should eat."
Major Key: drink plenty of water.
"For every pound you lose while working out, you should drink three cups of water," Smith said. "Keeping your body hydrated is important since you lose your body's water level when you sweat."
Individually, each person has a different goal when they workout.According to a Men's Health article about building muscle, "there are two ways to increase your protein intake. The simplest way is to eat more protein than you currently do."
By having small snack-like turkey sandwiches, a protein bar or peanut butter on an apple, your body intakes the protein and distributes it to the teared muscle cells and ultimately your muscles will build through consistency.
"The second is to workout in a way that disrupts your muscles and forces them to respond by getting bigger and stronger," Lou Schuler says.
By using protein supplements as your post workout, the protein is targeted to aid in muscle recovery and build muscles using hormones (depending on the type of protein).
In contrast, I looked for how a women's magazine specifies what women should eat for post workout. Building muscle is not just for men.
According to a Women's Health article, Janet Brill, a director of nutrition states that "eating snacks with complex carbs and lean protein is most efficient."
Just by adding fruits and veggies in light increments will give your body the boost that it needs. Veggies such as spinach, kale, and other dark leafy greens hold the most protein.
I asked my personal trainer, Faith Gillen, who is a SUNY New Paltz senior certified through AFA, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, about her advice for people who workout and her look on post workout.
Faith says that "having a balanced meal of protein (meat) and carbs (sweet potato, grains, brown rice) is ideal after a workout, but how much of what we eat is dependent on what one is trying to achieve."
The amount of carbs and protein depend on the body type and goal of an individual. Her advice is to "the first step to making a change with your body is accepting and loving the one you have now."
So, next time you workout, skip the huge meals and go right for the small protein-filled snacks that fill your body with love. You'll never be unsure of what to eat ever again and with protein, carbs and water, your muscles will be stronger than ever.