Working out is one thing, but getting the most out of our workouts can be another.

Something is of course better than nothing when it comes to exercise, but most people can certainly maximise their workouts more and enjoy even greater benefits.  

Is this you? Do you want to get the most out of your workout?

The first thing to remember is that proper recovery after a workout is essential whether you are training for a marathon, aiming to build bigger, stronger muscles or trying to lose weight.

And the food, your fuel, that you put in yourself is crucial. What you eat and when you eat can make all the difference and smart post-workout snacks are a great way to boost your results.

What makes a smart post-workout snack?

Research suggests that consuming a combination of both carbohydrate and protein is more effective in restoring your glycogen levels and promoting muscle growth.

By consuming both protein and carbohydrate together a greater amount of insulin is released. The increase in insulin promotes the uptake of glucose and amino acids (protein) from the bloodstream into the muscle cells.

As well as, encouraging glycogen and protein synthesis (required for muscle growth) it also helps to blunt the increase of cortisol experienced after exercise. A rise in cortisol can decrease your rate of muscle synthesis and promote protein catabolism (breakdown).

It is well know that consuming enough protein is vital for promoting muscle synthesis, preventing muscle breakdown and supporting positive protein balance in either endurance or weight training exercise.

How soon should I eat after exercise?

It is best to eat within two hours of finishing your workout. Muscles are most susceptible to amino acid uptake during this time but this may remain elevated over the next 24 hours. This is the period at which muscle synthesis takes place at the fastest rate so it’s important to consume protein throughout the day at regular intervals.

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Glycogen storage is also more rapid during this time (up to one and a half times the normal rate). This is particularly important if you train twice a day and need to replenish your energy stores between workouts.

Remember that glycogen is your muscles’ major fuel source. If you are training twice within a 24-hour period opt for high GI carbohydrate sources.

How much protein and carbohydrate?

During the first two hours post-exercise, you should consume 15-25g of protein and at least 50g of carbohydrates, ideally in a ratio of 1:4. Example: if your snack contains 15g of protein, it should contain approx 60g of carbohydrate as well.

Here are some quick and easy post-exercise snacks containing an optimum balance of both carbohydrates and protein:

1) 2 boiled eggs and 80g of grapes

2) 0% fat free yogurt 125ml pot, handful of mixed berries and tsp of honey

3) 3 plain rice cakes topped with peanut butter and banana, also great topped with light cream cheese and strawberries!

4) A handful of mixed nuts and raisins and a glass of milk

5) Banana smoothie – 300ml of milk blended with 1 frozen banana and 1 tsp of honey (peeled and chopped).

Training smart will improve your workout results and eating smart will give you the fuel to optimise exercise benefits. These post workout snacks will help you do this!

Connect here with WatchFit expert Charlotte Umney

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