Looking for an after workout food but just not sure what you should eat to adequately refuel your body? Well look no further. You’ve probably invested a significant amount of time and energy into completing a workout, and now you want to replenish your energy levels with the correct nourishment. Not only that, you possibly have been tracking your progress and calories burned on a smart watch and could be considering treating yourself as a reward for a well-earned workout.
However, what you eat after a workout is salient, especially if your workout involved applying significant amounts of stress to the body (we’re talking more than just a stroll in the park). Today we uncover some of the best post-workout foods to restore your glycogen levels and ensure optimal recovery.
In the previous article, we discussed what protein is and how important protein is to the body. Following a session of exercie where the body is put under stress, muscle catabolism (muscle breakdown) takes place. In order to aid recovery, post-workout nutrition is a fundamental parameter required to assist in optimal recovery. Identifying some of the best lean protein foods to aid in in the swiftly returning your body to a state of muscle anabolism (muscle growth) will support you in making the correct nutritional decisions. But first, let’s have a look at the difference sources of protein and decipher which ones may be best suited to you.
Sources of Protein
Protein can be obtained from a variety of sources; there are 3 primary sources: animal, vegetable and derivative protein.
Animal sources are considered a complete source, i.e. they contain all the essential amino acids. In the previous article (Good pre-workout foods: protein), we discussed how protein is composed of 20 amino acids, 9 of which are called essential amino acids. These 9 amino acids need to be obtained from food sources, of which animal sources are an example. Consequently, this provides animal proteins with the upper hand from this perspective. However, the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol present in animal sources, such as red meat, presents a negative aspect which plant sources avoid.
Additionally, the advent of processed meats can instills adverse effects on consumers, particularly if it forms a regular part of a meal plan. Research has depicted evidence of increased rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease and even premature death!
“Processed meat refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation. Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but processed meats may also contain other red meats, poultry, offal, or meat by-products such as blood. Examples of processed meat include hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef, and biltong or beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.” – World Health Organisation
Don’t, however, let this be a complete deterrent to using animal sources for protein. There are amples examples of meats that are unprocessed and can complement a healthy diet, minus the adverse effects identified above!
Plant sources, on the other hand, lack 1 + essential amino acids, meaning that they need to be obtained elsewhere in the diet to achieve a complementary supply of amino acids. Consequently, people who utilise plant sources would need to either complement vegetable sources with animal sources or consume a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes to prevent deficiency of essential amino acids.
Derivative protein sources such as whey, soy and hemp alternatives are becoming incrementally popular due to mounting knowledge on the effects of animal sources of protein and an increasing move towards non-animal protein sources. The liquid which remains following coagulation and removal of curds from cheese consists of whey and casein. This liquid is further formulated to form whey and casein protein powder.
Hemp protein is growing in popularity as it offers a vegan protein source while providing all 9 essential amino acids. It also packs in antioxidants, minerals and nutrients while being low in saturated fat. Hemp protein health benefits include energy production due to the presence of omega 3 and omega 6. Hemp protein is also a source of phytosterols which aids in the cholesterol reduction battle.
Soy protein is isolated from the soybean and is available in 3 forms: soy flour, concentrates, and isolates. Some studies have associated adverse effects of phytoestrogens with reduced male fertility. Some studies have suggested that estrogen can be lowered. However, despite concerns that soy can disrupt horomone balance, limited research is available to substantiate this; additionally most studies associate soy with increased health benefits.
With the above derivative protein sources, it’s worth noting the diverse protein content of each. Whey protein has a protein content of up to 99%, which trumps both soy protein (up to 99%) and hemp protein (50%). This means you’ll either have to consume larger quantities to achieve your protein target or obtain the outstanding protein elsewhere.
Below we provide a list of some of the best proteins suitable for post workout foods.
Animal Protein Food List
- White fish
- Lean steak
- Cottage cheese
Vegetable Protein Food List
- Peanuts or peanut butter
- Nutritional yeast
- Green peas
- Soy milk
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Derivative Protein Food List
- Protein is an excellent way to nourish your body post-workout.
- By eating animal sources of protein, you’re increasing the likelihood of consuming all the 9 essential amino acids.
- However, adopting a mix of the above 3 protein sources can offer a balanced diet which should promote optimal muscle recovery.
- Recognising the protein content of the above foods is important if you are tracking macronutrients.
- This particularly applies before and after a workout.
- That being said, while pre and post workout nutrition is important, the primary concern is adopting a healthy diet as a whole to ensure adequate levels of macronutrients and calories are consumed throughout the day.
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