After a particularly difficult workout, you may wish to reward yourself with an unhealthy—but satisfying—meal, like a burger and fries. However, many believe the food consumed after an intense workout is more important than any other meal of the day. When you work out, the body burns through available energy and then begins to break down glycogen stored in muscle for additional energy. A few hours after a workout, muscles begin to break down as a result. Around this time, however, the body becomes extremely responsive to absorbing protein and carbohydrates, making the food consumed during this period important for rebuilding depleted muscle tissue.
Ideally, you will consume whole-grain carbohydrates and lean proteins. A great way to get both of these pieces of nutrition is a turkey or chicken sandwich using whole-grain bread or a whole-grain wrap. Whole-grain breakfast cereals can provide extra fiber along with protein and complex carbohydrates. For a more complete snack, you can add Greek yogurt, which has twice the protein of traditional varieties. Fruits are also great for the body after a workout, because they contain enzymes that play a vital role in breaking down nutrients for proper delivery in the body. Pineapple, in particular, may help relieve inflammation in the muscles.