We recently spoke with Lucette Talamas, a Registered Dietitian (RD) at Baptist Health South Florida about how to properly fuel your workouts.
You probably learned a lot about whole foods, carbs, hydration, and what not to eat.
But what about post-workout meals? We caught up with Lucette to get the science-backed scoop on what to eat for proper recovery.
- Timing is important – The post-workout refuel is really important. Lucette says to eat as soon as possible after a vigorous workout for proper recovery. In the window up to 30 to 90 minutes after your workout is the most effective time for glycogen replenishment and muscle recovery. As Lucette puts it, during this time, “your engine is revved up and in high repair mode.”
- Eat a Mix of Carbs and Protein – Lucette suggests refueling with a meal that is an appropriate blend of carbohydrates and protein to optimally repair muscle and replenish glycogen stores. She says to think about a ratio of 3 carbs to 1 gram of protein (3:1) as this mixture is synergistic, meaning the nutrients will work together to be the most effective for recovery. Interestingly, a serving of chocolate milk has the perfect sports recovery ratio.
- Opt for Whole Foods – Lucette has a “food first” philosophy stating a meal of whole foods that are balanced of carbs, proteins and vegetables are best. This could simply be your dinner or a hot breakfast after a morning workout. Chicken and brown rice and vegetables would be a standard example. Regardless of what people tell you, protein powder is not a magic bullet. It is a convenient option if you aren’t able to get to a meal right away, but don’t forget you’ll also need a source of carbs to properly refuel your muscles.
- Hydrate – Hydration is also incredibly important post-workout. Electrolyte replacements have become fairly ubiquitous, but should again only be necessary if you exercise for over 60 minutes vigorously. Though Lucette does admit the unique hot and humid climate in Florida, it may indicate that you need to replenish a bit sooner. Again, she takes the food first approach saying to replenish the key electrolytes, sodium, and potassium, with whole foods. The standard American person eats plenty of salty foods, so you shouldn’t overthink this one. Potassium can be found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy. Some examples of high potassium foods include bananas, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and dairy products.
- You probably don’t need supplements – Supplements often promise a big return, but really it is a largely unregulated market, meaning you can’t know for sure about the product’s purity, safety, and effectiveness. Lucette thinks most supplements are unnecessary for the general athletic population if you’re sticking to a balanced nutrition plan.
There is a good chance that you’ve received a lot of misinformation about what to eat pre and post-workout. Lucette’s guidelines, aside from being approachable and delicious, highlight the fact that sticking to evidence-based information from licensed professionals is the smart way to go!