Before we begin, let’s set something straight: although what you eat after your workout is important, it is really only as valuable as the rest of the food and drink you consume that day.
If your goal is to build muscle, for example, and you have a great post workout meal but then consume very little for the rest of the day, the chances of you gaining muscle, or simply weight for that matter, will greatly diminish due to being in a caloric deficit.
So what I want to do today is give you some solid baselines to follow for your entire diet, illustrated by one meal and the macronutrients contained within. We’re going to be talking about macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates.
What You Need to Know
The first thing you’ll want to add to your post-workout meal is a high-quality protein source. The International Society for Sports Nutrition suggests a daily requirement of 1.4g to 2g per kilo of bodyweight per day for athletes. So, we can say that an 80kg man needs around 160g of protein per day.
So, we have our total but how much do we need in a meal? Well it makes sense to divide this number between your meals and snacks with each meal containing at least 20g of protein, ideally 30g. This will allow for regular stimulation of muscle protein synthesis as it requires 2-3 of the amino acid leucine to make this happen, this will be found in 30g of most meat sources.
Consuming carbs after a workout is a great way to replenish all of the energy you’ve just used, and it will help to refill your glycogen stores – the fuel you put away for later – ready for your next session. How much depends on your daily calorie targets, which are completely individual. As a rule of thumb, make your post-workout meal the most carbohydrate-heavy of the day.
I like to set fat at 20-35% of my total daily calories. That’s about 75g for an 80kg person. There’s a balancing act with carbs and fats, and it can impact your protein choice. If you tend to have a fat-heavy breakfast, make this stir-fry with chicken as described. Got some fat to spare? Then sub in some salmon.
Train hard, eat well – and you’ll be set for whatever new challenges the day brings you.
CHICKEN STIR FRY BOWL
580 calories 42g protein / 60g carbs / 19g fat
INGREDIENTS (Serves 1)
• A garlic clove
• Ginger, 7g, shredded
• Red onion, ½
• Olive oil, 1tsp
• Chicken breast, 150g, diced
• Chilli powder, ½tsp
• Honey, ½tbsp
• Soya sauce, reduced salt, ½tbsp
• A red pepper, sliced
• Tenderstem broccoli, 100g
• Jasmine rice, microwaveable, 150g (cooked weight; 50g uncooked weight)
1) Fry the garlic, ginger and red onion in the oil in a large pan on a high heat until they start to colour. Throw in the chicken chunks, add the chilli powder and honey, and give it all a good stir to coat the meat in the mixture.
2) Keep moving everything to brown off the chicken – it’s called “stir-fry” for a reason. Add the dash of soya sauce, then the red pepper and broccoli for the last few minutes – you want them to keep their crunch.
3) Cut into one piece of the chicken to check if it’s nearly done. Now, microwave the rice as per the pack instructions. It’s not lazy: it’s just good time management. Give it a fluff up with a fork in a bowl, then pour the chicken and veg mix on top, straight from the pan, to save on washing up. Devour greedily.
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