Imagine running your car for hours on end, driving it hundreds and hundreds of miles. As you expel the energy changed from the gasoline in your car it continues to put out energy in speed, endurance, and distance. The gas level gets low and you’re still cruising. The gas level continues to drop, but you’re not stopping. Finally the car has to stop itself. It seems illogical to push a car to empty and then expect the car to keep running at top speed. Without any gasoline, without any fuel, the car cannot and will not continue to run. After hitting empty, the car needs to be refueled so it can continue to function. Such a metaphor applies directly to men, fitness, and eating after a workout. Working out burns calories. Even after a pre-workout meal, exercising can put men into the negative calories. Skipping a meal after working out and then trying to go about the day, or be fully ready for another workout the next day is like running a car to empty and trying to get it to run. Men’s bodies need to be consistently fueled with quality energy created by nutrition dense, healthy foods which provide adequate protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and nutrients.
Men’s Fitness recommends men get at least 20g of protein after a workout, but anywhere between 30-40g of protein throughout the day. Complex, healthy carbohydrates don’t only include grain based foods like oats. Potatoes, lentils, blueberries, beans, and bananas can all count as a post-workout carbohydrate. Carbs are recommended for replenishing energy systems for the next physical activity. Consuming foods with leucine-rich protein is also recommended, foods like eggs and chicken.
Many men opt for a post-workout shake that has whey, egg, or plant based protein in it. Shakes are a healthy, easy choice. However, many shake products have high levels of sugar and processed ingredients which can do more harm than good, as can many of the milks, juices, or liquid products used to make a shake. If you’re choosing a shake, make sure to check the ingredients for all of its nutrition. Add in leucine based protein, like egg white protein, and complex carbohydrates to make it a thoroughly replenishing liquid meal.
For those who like whole, chewable foods after a workout, there are ways to combine all the post-workout necessities without sacrificing gains. A jam packed sandwich is an easy way to combine whole grain carbohydrates, healthy fats, vegetables and proteins. Lean meats, eggs, or chicken, are great choices for a delicious sandwich meal. Take a few minutes to grill up a protein with some potatoes and vegetables. Chicken and salmon are good for both physical and mental health. Potatoes fill the need for a carbohydrate and vegetables give you the fiber and nutrients your body needs to recover. Like the car, you’ll be refueled and ready to go to meet all of life’s demands and tomorrow’s workout.
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