Should I Eat Right After A Workout?
We often hear that we should eat right after we workout, but it's not always clear why, or just how soon after we should be eating.
When we exercise, our bodies' arteries expand to send additional blood rich with nutrients and oxygen to the muscles being used. These arteries stay more "open" for up to 2 hours post-workout, and are the most open up to 30 minutes after. Eating within 30 minutes after finishing training uses that window to allow more nutrients to get to the muscles that were doing the most work, kickstarting the recovery process so you can adapt and feel good for your next session. The harder or longer the session, the more benefit you'll get from eating "within the window."
Because the calories you eat during this time are going straight to your recovering muscles, you also want to make them healthy calories from good food whenever possible. Chick Fil A tastes great post-workout, but as a regular thing fried food is not the way to go. Try to stick with whole foods post-workout - some combination of healthy carbs (vegetables, starches, rice, pasta, couscous) and protein (steak, salmon, chicken, beans). Your body will thank you later with quicker recovery!
Not able to get "real" food right after training? Some food is better than no food, so plan ahead and keep an energy bar or drink mix in your car or training bag for times when you aren't able to get a big meal right after a session.
Coach Emeric Arnaud is an experienced triathlete, and did track and cross country at Davis & Elkins where he completed his degree in exercise science. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.