You have just finished a very productive and intense workout. The first thing you need to do now is refuel your body so it can recover. But what should you eat post-workout?
First and foremost, you need to replace the water you lost by sweating. Weigh yourself before and after your workout. Drink the difference in water (1 liter of water per kilo of weight lost).
Most people agree that there is a window of time after a workout where your body will more readily accept nutrients. Because of this, the best thing to do is eat immediately after your workout. Your body needs carbs (energy was burned during the workout) and protein (to build muscle). Getting these things in your body will allow you to start the recovery process.
In addition to food or a meal replacement shake, you can also take Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) and Glutamine after your workout. BCAA’s are necessary for building skeletal muscle and for energy in muscle cells. Glutamine has been shown to spare lean body mass during stress, improving the immune system, and increasing growth hormone levels.
You should ingest all of this as soon as possible after your workout, and you definitely want to eat with in an hour of working out. Protein shakes are better than solid food for the post workout meal because liquids will digest faster and get to the muscles faster than solid food. You also want to limit the amount of fat as it too will slow your digestion.
Remember that fitness is a lifestyle, not just a special workout or supplement. Nutritional strategies like the post workout meal will enhance your fitness and improve the quality of your workout training experience.