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Post-workout nutrition is about as important as the workout itself since what you consume helps you properly replenish any lost nutrients, fosters muscle growth, and promotes recovery. Factors such as convenience, taste, and, personal preference all play a supporting role when picking out the kinds of nutrition options that are best for a post-workout diet. We spoke to Cara Harbstreet, an MS, RD, LD, and nutritionist, about what to consider when looking for a reliable post-workout meal or snack and what’s best to consume — including natural whey proteins and nutrition bars like KIND.
The thinking used to be that after a workout, you had to rush home and down food or drink ASAP or your muscles would fail to properly build. You had all of 15 minutes, experts would say, for optimal absorption of the proper nutrients to work their magic. Thankfully, that line of thinking has largely been dispelled through continued research. That doesn’t mean taking in a few calories — the right calories — post-workout isn’t important; it absolutely is. But you can relax a little on the timing, said Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, and owner of Street Smart Nutrition.”If you can drink or eat the right things within an hour of your workout, that will adequately ensure your nutrition will be used for recovery,” she told Business Insider. “It also bridges the gap between post-workout and your next meal.”The importance of post-workout nutritionSo, why does eating at a certain time and of a certain nutritional makeup even matter? Harbstreet said, “the goal is to replenish what you’ve lost and set your body up for recovery. You’re dealing with muscle breakdown and energy depletion. If you want to get the most out of your next sessions, it’s important to make that up.”
Some people may find it uncomfortable to consume calorie-heavy foods immediately after a workout, though. Instead of going for solids first, try liquids — as long as it provides what you need most, either is fine. Convenience also plays a role. If you’re doing a lunch-time sweat session and need to return to your desk, having a nutrient-dense bar on hand might be easier than mixing up some powder and water. Taste should be a factor, as well, since you’re more likely to make the effort to replenish if you like what you’re downing. According to Harbstreet, much of it comes down to personal preference. If you’re curious about ideal nutrient ratios, Harbstreet says a good, general rule of thumb is a balance of about two-thirds carbohydrates to protein, depending on the workout. That said, depending on the type of workout you’re doing, there are variations of what nutrients you should be seeking in your post-exercise refueling. We’ve broken it down for you below. After that, tweak to your own preferences.
Here are the best sources of post-workout nutrition: Updated on 6/12/2020 by Rick Stella: Added reference links to pre-workout meals, checked the availability of each selected post-workout recommendation, and updated the prices, links, and formatting throughout.