When I was in college, I would rush home and drink a cup of chocolate milk right after my workout. I had a rule: If I didn’t work out, I didn’t get my glass of cold, delicious chocolate milk.
The reason for this is because I had read somewhere that a glass of chocolate milk within one hour after your workout would help expedite your body’s recovery.
Now, does this have any validity? We’ll get to that in minute. But, since that rule is now out of my life, we are going to delve deep into the nitty gritty of what to eat and when—at what point after your workout—to eat it.
When to Eat
Let’s start with the almighty “when.” Yes, there is a time that is better to eat after your workout. And that time is within one hour after you finish your gym routine.
There’s a very good reason for this timing. All day, your body is storing energy away in the form of glycogen, triglycerides, and protein. When you work out your body uses up the stored energy and, by the end, your muscles are partially depleted of energy and protein.
So, after a workout, you want to replenish the glycogen stores and enhance your body’s recovery.
Studies show that eating at anytime within one hour after your workout is best for this recovery and replenishment. The quicker the better. However, don’t fret—if you are 1 minute or 30 minutes late, there is very little evidence that shows that your body will know the difference.
Takeaway: Eat as soon after your workout as possible, shooting for within one hour.
What to Eat
Now, this is the fun part! What do I put in my body to restore those glycogen levels? Was my chocolate milk obsession correct in any way? Well, it may just have been! One study from the University of Texas tracked the recovery of 10 cyclists on three different occasions.
In one instance the group drank chocolate milk; the second time they consumed a beverage that only contained carbs and no protein; the third time they drank a placebo substitute. They found that the cyclists performed better after drinking the chocolate milk than with the other two drinks.
Does this mean you should be having chocolate milk after every workout? No. The sugar in the chocolate milk could do more harm than good, but that’s not the main takeaway from this study. The study suggests that a mixture of carbs and protein are best for any post-workout recovery.
Takeaway: Have a mixture of healthy carbs and protein after a workout for optimal recovery.
Post Workout Snacks
Greek yogurt is your friend!
This tasty and convenient treat is a wonderful source of both carbohydrates and protein. But, don’t be fooled, not all Greek yogurts are made the same.
Opt for a brand like Wallaby Organic Greek Yogurt or Maple Hill Creamery Greek Yogurt.These brands are made from the milk of organic, pasture-raised/grass fed cows so they are not only good for your workout recovery, but also your entire digestive tract.
Read your labels, if there is more sugar than protein in your yogurt, you have a problem.
Eggs—you can’t beat ‘em!
Well, technically you can beat eggs to eat them, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. This convenient little food is easy to pack in a to-go lunch when they’re hard-boiled or to just have on hand in your refrigerator for an anytime snack. Plus, they can be cooked in so many different ways that it would take a while for you to get sick of them.
Have them hard boiled, scrambled (see, they can be beaten!), fried (in a healthy organic oil), or poached and put on some sourdough bread with a slice of avocado. If you are watching your cholesterol, simply switch your snack from 2 whole eggs, to one whole egg to four egg whites. This way, you are getting the good-for-you vitamins and minerals in the yolks, but not overdoing it on the cholesterol.
Eggs contain protein and minerals to help you recover quicker. Let’s stop thinking of eggs as simply a breakfast food, and give them the credit they’re due as a more delicious anytime-of-day snack.
Chocolate Milk—can do a body good (in moderation)!:
Yes, most packaged chocolate milk or chocolate syrup has way too much sugar to do you any good, but since chocolate milk has everything you need in a delicious beverage, you can make your own by checking out some recipes like the one we found here!
How’s that for healthy alternatives?
Want more recipes for pre- and post-workouts? Let us know in the comments below!