There are few things more life-changing than food. One of those things — for me at least — is working out. I’ve gone through running phases, dance phases, organized sport phases (only because I thought the cleats were stylish), and have finally settled into a routine of barre and spin classes. Despite my dedication to exercise, my love for food remains strong, and one of the most complex and fun parts of having a consistent workout routine is learning how to properly fuel your body.
Things to remember:
1. After a workout (lasting about 45 to 60 minutes), a body needs a 4-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein in order to repair and rebuild muscle.
2. The best time of the day to eat is immediately after a workout: so eat a little something. It is a common misconception that eating after a work out “cancels out” all the work you did. In actuality, the body accesses fat stores, not recently consumed calories, for energy when exercising. Fat is stored only when your body has nothing to do with it. So, after a workout, when your body needs calories, they won’t be stored as fat — your body will use them to repair and as energy.
Use this guide to keep your body in tip-top shape post-run or yoga.
After a run, if you don’t fuel up, it can take muscles up to 72 hours to properly repair themselves. Use these ideas to cut that recoup time in half.
Oatmeal topped with fruit
This popular breakfast has a healthy dose of carbs, protein and fiber to help you meet that 4-to-1 ratio goal. The fruit on top adds natural sweetness and a bit more fiber.
Greek yogurt with honey
If you haven’t jumped on the Greek yogurt bandwagon yet, hop on after your morning jog. Packed with protein, this breakfast addition is a great way to help build muscle.
This fish is rich with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, and when paired with brown rice and asparagus (hellooooo, carbs!) it makes a great dinner option if you prefer to run when the sun starts to set.
This is a controversial addition to the list, as most energy and protein bars tend to be packed with sugar and empty calories. Runners, however, swear by this product to give them the desired 4-to-1 ratio. My father, a dedicated marathoner, kept them in the house for years.
Veggies and hummus
Also close to the 4-to-1 ratio, this popular combo is a fantastic post-run snack when it’s a zillion degrees outside. Veggies are packed with water to help rehydrate your tired muscles and keep you going.
Yoga holds a strong focus on a cleansed, balanced body, which includes a comfortable digestive system. Get your “ohm” on with these yogi tips.
This common fruit contains loads of potassium, which is crucial for the re-generation of cells and tissues in the body (the post-workout goal). Fiber and electrolytes also makes this a great recovery snack.
Hydrating and complete with plenty of vitamin A, this crunchy snack is light and easy on the digestive system to keep you feeling full but not weighed down.
First, check out our articles on juice ideas: there’s something for everyone, whether you prefer cleansing or smoothies. Then, grab a bottle or glass and take a swig. The vitamins, minerals and enzymes in the juice will be absorbed quickly and efficiently because each muscle in your body has been worked and is now ready and more likely to soak up nutrients.
Avocado whole grain sandwich
If you work out later in the day, by the time you’re finished, it may be time for lunch. In order to restore and have a full meal, make this sandwich and soak up the healthy fats of the avocado. It will move out of the stomach and make you balanced in around 3 hours, as opposed to a sandwich with chicken, which can take up to 8 hours.
Of course, before making any drastic changes or starting a new exercise plan, you should consult a doctor and choose something that suits you: not everyone will be a runner and not everyone will be a yoga guru. Regardless of what you choose, working out is a little more delicious when you know a great snack or meal is at the finish line.