After a tough, lactic-filled workout it’s hard to fathom food, let alone down a steak. But getting high quality protein, combined with a little bit of carbohydrate, is one of the best things you can do for your body immediately after a high intensity training session.
Why Are Protein And Carbs Important After Exercise?
During a workout numerous hormonal and metabolic changes take place. Fuel stores are depleted, water is lost, inflammation goes up and muscles begin breaking down. These changes prime your body to take up protein and carbohydrate immediately after your last rep, even though you may not be hungry.
The sooner you get something down, the quicker the recovery process begins. Protein starts healing damaged muscles, while carbohydrate moves into the muscles and liver. Interestingly enough, consuming carbohydrate and protein together is more effective at repairing muscle damage and building-up fuel stores than either one alone .
What Are The Best Protein And Carb Choices?
In terms of carbohydrates, rapidly absorbed sources are the best choices. The sooner it gets into your system, the sooner it begins to work it’s magic . That means that white bread, white pasta, sweeter cereals, and even the type of carbohydrate found in milk are all fair game.
Protein is a little more interesting. Animal sources and soy products are top-shelf choices after exercise because they’re rich in leucine, a type of protein that triggers muscle-building . But that doesn’t mean a perfectly seared steak is the only option. Here are a couple of portable (and effective) protein choices for your post-exercise snack:
Low-fat flavored milk or soy milk.
Chocolate milk is a delicious, and effective recovery beverage, and there’s a ton of research to back it up! The combination of protein, and carbohydrate found in the milk and chocolate flavoring seems to minimize muscle damage, and reduce fatigue. If you’re not a chocolate fan, you can do vanilla or plain milk instead. If you go for plain, pair it with cereal or another carbohydrate for an effective post-workout snack.
Low-fat flavored Greek yogurt or soy yogurt.
Just like chocolate milk, the carbohydrate and protein found in yogurt make it an ideal snack after exercise. Greek yogurt is a great choice because it’s higher in protein than regular yogurt. If you opt for a plain variety, pair it with fruit to get the right amount of carbohydrate.
Whey, soy or hemp protein.
Whey, soy and hemp protein carry well in an airtight container, and can be added to 100% orange juice (or another variety of 100% juice) to create a quick and easy smoothie. Whey protein in particular is highly biologically available, meaning that it can be readily absorbed and utilized by our body.
String cheese and crackers offer a crunchy alternative to flavored milk, protein-enriched smoothies and yogurt post-workout. String cheese and crackers is a good alternative for a savory-loving athlete, and offers a hint of salt to top up electrolyte sources.
Remember, the sooner you get a little carb and protein in post-workout, the better! Experiment with a few different options to find what you tolerate best. Your body will thank you for jump-starting the recovery process.
Originally published on: theorangechef.com.
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