What should you eat and drink after exercising?

What should you eat after an exercise? And how much should you drink after a good workout session? Here are our top tips for eating and drinking after exercising.

It's a wonderful feeling to have completed a really good workout. The body is tired, sweaty and your muscles are aching. After such a workout, the body should be nourished with the necessary nutrients and fluids for optimal muscle recovery. Why is muscle recovery important? If you want the most out of your workout, the body needs to rest.

Why is it important to eat and drink right after exercising?

When you exercise, the glycogen storages (carbohydrate) in your muscles are drained, you get increased protein metabolism, and lose fluids, salts and the burning of adipose tissue. Or simplified: When you exercise, you have to regain what has been emptied. To do this, you need to consume food and drink that best fills up this storage.

Drink after exercising

What should I drink after exercise, and how much?

When you exercise, your body uses more fluid than usual. This is called fluid loss. The Olympic Summit in Norway recommends replacing 150% of fluid loss. For example, an athlete who has lost 1 kg during a workout should drink 1.5 litres of fluids after the session. 

You will get a long way with a bottle of tap water during a normal workout, but if you want to restore fluid balance in your body as soon as possible, you can drink something that contains sodium. This is found in most commercial sports drinks. Milk and mineral water (for example sparkling water) can also be good alternatives to tap water after a hard workout, as these contain salts etc. Note that it's also a good idea to drink evenly over the next two hours for an optimal fluid balance.

What should I eat after exercising? 

Once you've exercised, the glycogen stores in your body should be replenished - especially if you exercise several times a day. Carbohydrates are the most important nutrient for recovery, and you replenish your glycogen stores by consuming a carbohydrate-rich diet immediately after exercise. For those who exercise at normal intensity, and with a sufficient amount of recovery time, an after workout meal/snack consisting of 30-50 g of carbohydrate is sufficient.

Note that it's recommended to eat as soon as 15-30 minutes after the end of the exercise. This is because the body is most receptive to nutrients right after working out, especially when it comes to carbohydrates.

What to eat after exercising?

Foods that contain carbohydrates to eat after exercising:

  • A glass of milk and a banana.
  • Smoothie with yoghurt, fruit and berries.
  • Slice of bread with protein-rich toppings, such as cheese and ham.
  • Fruit salad with yoghurt.
  • A glass of chocolate milk or homemade flavoured milk.

How to plan food and drink after exercising?

It's always best to plan fluid and food intake in advance. You can do this by packing a gym bag or backpack the day before your workout. Pack a large bottle of water, mineral water or milk/chocolate milk, and prepare a slice of bread with ham and cheese, or bring a banana.

What do you like to eat and drink after exercising? Share your thoughts with us on #barasportswear on social media.

Sources: Olympiatoppen (2019), https://www.olympiatoppen.no/fagstoff/idrettsernaering/faktaark/page1933 .html

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