Ask a dozen different fitness gurus about eating after a workout and they will all have slightly different recommendations. Some recommend waiting until it’s time for your next daily meal while others claim that eating directly after you finish is the most beneficial.
Of course, the kind of nutrition your body needs after a workout will greatly depend on the type of exercise you participate in. If you engage in a hard cardio workout, experts recommend eating within an hour of finishing the workout so that your body can restore muscle glycogen and replenish its energy. Your body has probably depleted fat and sugar during the workout, so you will need to eat in order to recover properly.
Likewise, eating right after lifting weights at the gym can make muscle repair easier and help you recover faster, according to Dr. Joseph A. Chromiak, PhD, CSC. Eating food will allow your body to increase protein synthesis, which leads to strong muscles and healthy tissue. However, experts advise avoiding fatty foods right after your workout as they can be counter-productive.
In general, if you feel hungry after a workout, it’s a good idea to give your body a boost of energy with nutritious foods. Put down the Girl Scout cookies and consider these powerful meal alternatives instead.