Though you may not be hungry immediately after a strenuous workout, getting a little something in your stomach post-sweat can help speed up recovery. Let’s break down the latest science on what you should be eating after crushing a HIIT class or busting through a long run in a way that's easy to digest (sorry, we had to). Carb and sugar lovers, rejoice! They both have a place in your post-workout fuel.
The research behind what your body needs after working out.
When you work out, your body burns through energy in the form of glycogen. In order to replace this lost glycogen, you should make healthy carbs your best friend. Of course, not all carbs are created equal. For instance, anything fried will weigh you down because of its high fat content. Instead, you'll want to go for complex carbs that are easy to digest, like fruit, oatmeal, or a starch like sweet potatoes. For maximum impact, athletes should combine carbs with protein.
It makes sense that eating protein after a workout can help your muscles repair and get stronger for next time. Though the amount of protein will vary from person to person, a general rule of thumb is to aim for around 20 grams, give or take. For context, that's the equivalent of one serving of Greek yogurt or three eggs.
Interestingly enough, studies have shown that animal-derived proteins are likely more effective at stimulating muscle growth than plant-based sources. That makes high-protein options like EPIC Bars, packed with pastured and grass-fed meat and transparent ingredients, a fantastic, easy option for meat eaters looking for on-the-go recovery. Bonus: Their egg-white-based performance bars have some of those carbs you're looking for, too!
It's a common misconception that eating sugar after a workout will spike the body's insulin levels. However, science shows that exercise actually increases our ability to process insulin, making that post-workout window a good time to add carbs and sugars to restore glycogen levels.
Here are some ideas for quick snacks to sneak in some of these benefits:
- Protein Shake: Adding bananas and protein powder to your shakes makes for a great source of fuel after (and before) workouts, especially for endurance athletes.
- EPIC bison apple cider bone broth: This yummy broth is packed with 20 grams of carbs per jar and plenty of protein. The ingredient list is also super clean. Bone broth may not be the most intuitive post-workout snack, but it works great as a base for things like cauliflower rice, poached egg dishes, and even savory smoothies!
- Avocado toast: Carbs, check. Protein and sugars, check. Go for sweet potato toast if you are sensitive to gluten.