Eating after a workout is important to replenish your body and boost your recovery.
When you are working out, your muscles are using glycogen, which is the body’s preferred source of fuel during high-intensity workouts like CrossFit. So, once you have finished your workout, it’s important to eat and replenish that store of glycogen. Your muscle proteins may also have broken down during your workout, and eating ensures that you can repair your muscles which is how you get stronger.
It is especially important to eat carbs and protein after your workout, as these two macronutrients help your body:
Decrease muscle protein breakdown
Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth)
Restore glycogen stores
Protein helps to repair and build muscle. Exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein, and consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the nutrients required to build new muscle tissue so that you can become stronger.
It is recommended that you consume 0.3-0.5 grams of protein per kilo of body weight very soon after a workout. Studies have shown that ingesting 20-40 grams of protein seems to maximise the body’s ability to recover after exercise.
Here at CrossFit Play, we are big fans of a protein shake after a workout, because they are a tasty and convenient way of getting protein in your diet. However if shakes are not your thing, you could try some high-protein yoghurt, eggs or lean meat like chicken or turkey.
Carbs are so important after a workout to help replenish your body’s glycogen stores. Consuming 1.1-1.5 grams per kilo of bodyweight within 30 minutes after training results in proper glycogen resynthesis.
It is best if you can consume your protein and carb sources together, as this can promote better insulin secretion which boosts the synthesis of both protein and glycogen.
We recommend having a piece of fruit, a whole grain sandwich or some oats after your workout to incorporate some healthy carbs.
The bottom line
Eat a post-workout meal ideally within an hour after your CrossFit workout. Try to have a balanced meal that is rich in whole carbs and protein. As you increase the amount of exercise you are doing, it is normal to feel more hungry, so make sure you’re regularly eating balanced meals throughout the day that are based on fresh ingredients, healthy fats and lean protein sources.