Beginners in particular are often overwhelmed with the subject and then quickly resort to the wrong foods. We reveal which of the three macronutrients protein, fat and carbohydrates your body needs most urgently now.
Carbohydrates prevent muscle breakdown
During training, your body gets the energy from the muscle’s glycogen depots. Glycogen is the storage form of glucose (simple sugar) and is stored both in the muscle cells and in the liver. After a hard cardio session, it is particularly important to replenish the empty glucose stores quickly – and carbs are ideal for this. Because carbohydrates are basically nothing other than sugar. If the body has enough carbohydrates after exercise, regeneration is also accelerated.
Anyone who refuses (or completely starves) carbohydrate replenishment after exercise activates the so-called gluconeogenesis. Through this metabolic process, the body tries to produce new glucose itself, for example with the help of amino acids (protein building blocks). The problem: If glucose is lacking as an energy source, the body will get the necessary “material” from the muscles at worst. And that means muscle breakdown.
The extent to which your glycogen stores have been looted also depends on the training: Endurance athletes have to add carbs the most because they burn a lot of energy. Strength athletes rarely push the limits of their glucose stores during workouts and require less replenishment.
(Sweet) potatoes, whole grain rice and noodle, as well as quinoa and fruit are, among other things, carbohydrate-rich foods with which you can replenish your stores quickly.
Protein for muscle building and regeneration
Especially after strength training, your muscles need a good dose of protein, so you should put a special focus on protein-rich foods in your post-workout diet. Your muscles consist of proteins, more precisely of protein building blocks, the amino acids. The body uses protein to produce the body’s own protein (also called protein biosynthesis in technical jargon), which it then uses, for example, to build new muscle fibers.
But protein-rich foods after the workout not only promote muscle growth, but also regeneration, because micro-tears in the muscles urgently need to be repaired after fitness training. Immediately after training, you can take protein, for example in the form of a whey protein shake (from € 35.90). You can also refine it with fresh fruit, which also provides fast carbohydrates. The more and more intensively you exercise, the more protein your body needs after training. With around 20 to 30 grams of protein after a hard workout, you’re in the right place. The amount is quickly reached with a protein shake.
Fats optimize protein intake
After training, you should rely on easily digestible nutrients, such as fast carbohydrates and high-quality proteins. Foods with a high fat content, on the other hand, extend the length of time in the stomach. Therefore, the food before exercise should be low in fat, otherwise it will be difficult in your stomach during exercise. After training, you can consume fat in moderation and ideally in combination with protein-containing, low-fat foods such as poultry or low-fat curd cheese.
When is the best time to eat after exercising?
You can take the first, small fitness snack, for example in the form of a shake, low-fat curd cheese or cottage cheese with fruit, directly – or up to 30 minutes – after training. But at the latest 2 hours later it is time for the right post-workout dish, which is composed of carbohydrate or protein-rich foods. Around 60 percent of the energy that you supply to your body after the workout should consist of carbs in order to quickly replenish the energy stores after the workout.
Calm after exercise: promote regeneration
The stress during sport leads to tiny tears in the muscles that need to be repaired. And for this your body not only needs enough protein through the food, but above all rest and time. He uses this regeneration phase not only to heal micro-injuries, but also to strengthen the muscle fibers. This process is called super compensation. If you set a new training stimulus too early, the effect will fail to appear and you will even lose performance.
Drinking water after exercising is mandatory
You lose a lot of fluid by sweating. Therefore, you should fill your water storage after and during the workout. Your body is not only more efficient, it can also regenerate better. Water plays an important role in many metabolic processes. It ensures that the nutrients are transported to where they are needed and waste products are washed out of the body.