To decide your nutrition requirements after a workout, it should begin with an understanding of the impact that the physical activity has on your body. When you are sweating it out, your muscles get worked up and use your glycogen stores to fuel the physical strain. This leads to a partial depletion of glycogen. Also, many proteins in your muscles get broken down too. So, after a workout, your body seeks to overcome that glycogen depletion and regrow those muscle proteins.
Therefore, eating such food items which have the required nutrients that would help the body recover from the workout is of paramount importance. The post-workout meal should be such that would restore glycogen stores, decrease muscle protein breakdown, and increase protein synthesis.
To that effect, the post-workout meals should be rich in Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fluids, and Fats.
Proteins build and repair muscles
Since workout regimes lead to a breakdown of muscle proteins, it becomes rather significant to eat such food items that are rich in protein. The consumption of adequate amounts of protein would provide your body with the necessary amino acids which it requires to rebuild and repair the muscle proteins. A protein-rich post-workout meal would also help in building new muscle tissue. Many studies have come out to suggest that 20-40 grams of protein would be an optimum amount for a post-workout meal for efficient recovery.
Therefore, you should include such food items as eggs, tuna fish, protein bars or powders, chicken, yogurt, and cottage cheese for your post-workout meal.
Carbohydrates will help you with recovery
Consuming food items rich in carbohydrates would help in replenishing the glycogen stores used during workout. The depletion of glycogen stores depends on the kind of workout you practice. Endurance sports like running and swimming use up more of this fuel than resistance training. For proper glycogen resynthesis, you should eat about 1.5 grams/kg of body weight worth of carbohydrates, within 30 minutes after your workout.
Also, it is significant to eat foods which are rich in both carbohydrates and proteins as that would stimulate the insulin secretion and promote glycogen synthesis. It is recommended to consume carbohydrates and proteins in a 3:1 ratio.
You can eat such carbohydrate rich food items as sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, pasta, quinoa, and green vegetables.
Fats are important too
Many people consider consuming fat post-workout as an abomination. While it is true that fat may be responsible for slowing down the absorption of your meal after the workout, it still has many benefits. Consumption of adequate amounts of fat after exercise may actually help in promoting the growth of muscles. It would still be a good idea to limit the amount of fat that you consume.
Some food items that you can make a part of your meal post-workout are avocados, nuts and nut butters, and dry fruits.
Fluids are important for hydration
Finally, do not forget to replenish the loss of fluids and electrolytes as a result of the workout. Of course, you should drink adequate amounts of water. You can also go for 100% juices like orange juice which would provide both fluids and carbohydrates.