What Are the Best Post-Workout Nutrients?

If your goal is to lose weight, eating directly after a workout might not seem like the most logical step. However, during heavy exercise, your muscles can use up a lot of their stored glucose (called glycogen) and your glycogen levels can become depleted. This glycogen loss can cause fatigue and, in the long term, make it difficult for the body to repair your muscles that you stressed during your workout. While it is essential to replenish your body's glycogen stores after a workout, there’s a right way to do it.  

Firstly, three kinds of macronutrients make up the food you eat: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Sufficient amounts of protein are required to help muscles heal and to prevent loss of lean mass. Adequate muscle mass contributes to a “toned” appearance. Carbohydrates often get a bad rap because they are often refined into simple carbs, such as sugar or refined white bread. But complex carbohydrates, such as organic brown rice, are powerful supporters of the body’s physiology and are necessary to help your body recharge, especially if your favorite workout method is a long cardio session. Fat isn’t the enemy either, as long as they are the “good healthy fats” such as avocados or wild caught salmon. They can provide a host of important health benefits.  

Choosing which type of food to eat after a workout might sound tough, but here’s some tips. One of the best things you can eat after a workout is fermented foods. An unfortunate consequence after exercise is that if you are unable to properly recover by using adequate nutrition, it can place added stress on your immune system. Putting fermented foods back in your diet can boost your immune system via your gut ecosystem (and yes, your belly has a huge impact on your immune system). Homemade kimchi or coconut kefir are great fermented foods that can support the growth of healthy bacteria and improve nutrient absorption for the rest of the healthy foods you eat. Fermented supplements are also available such as fermented greens, fermented beets, and fermented turmeric. Just add a scoop to your post-workout smoothie for their stellar benefits. 

Glutamine is a key amino acid that serves many functions in the body. It is an essential building block of protein which can help decrease muscle soreness and improve recovery after intensive exercise. Because it helps your cells hold water to avoid dehydration, glutamine promotes healthy cell growth and repair.  

When you sweat, your body naturally loses key nutrients such as sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, phosphorus, and magnesium. A vigorous workout can also use up vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamine, and riboflavin. Simply drinking water is not be enough to replenish these mineral levels. For best exercise recovery and endurance, consider adding a mineral-rich supplement to your post-workout regimen. In addition, fill your diet with vitamin and mineral-rich foods with an emphasis on organic fruits and vegetables.

Because your body can lose large amounts of water when you exercise, be sure to replenish your hydration status by drinking additional amounts of purified water.

Take charge and maximize your workouts with these simple tips. Smart post-workout choices include replenishing your water levels, upping vitamin and mineral intake, eating delicious complex carbs to replete glycogen stores, and eating fermented foods or fermented supplements.

See you at the gym!