It can be said a lot about postworkout nutrition. This is the most important meal of the day. If you don't eat the right foods after workout, you are seriously undermining your efforts.
Why is it so important to eat after exercising?
After you finish your workout your body is exhausted and most of the glycogen in your muscles is exhausted. Within the next 35-45 minutes (the so called "metabolic window") your body soaks up nutrients like a sponge in order to restore glycogen and repair broken muscle fibers.
There are different techniques for better recovery. Most people consume simple carbohydrates (dextrose) in combination with fast-absorbing protein (usually whey protein) immediately after workout. Why? Because simple carbs raise insulin levels and insulin is the key that opens the door and lets amino acids from the protein to enter in the muscles cells. What do we achieve with this? You stop catabolic processes in the body and initiate anabolic processes.
When your aim is to lose weight you can skip the carbs and only take protein. The body will still be able to recover! You have to experiment a bit to find out which one works better for you (with or without simple carbs).
After working out insulin sensitivity is raised and the body can absorb protein without the presence of carbohydrates. For this reason I avoid simple carbs immediately after workout and I take only pure protein. That's because I am prone to storing fat and simple sugars are just do utilized properly by my body. If you have good insulin sensitivity, there is no problem to take 200 grams of banana in combination with 1 dose of whey protein. If you are not that serious with your training regime (like most women), you can skip the whey protein and banana and go directly for the main solid meal after a workout.
Main postworkout meal
This is the most important meal of the day! It helps your body recover faster and restore muscle glycogen. This meal has to contain complex carbohydrates (brown rice, potatoes, etc.) and lean protein (chicken breast, turkey breast, lean beef, etc.).
What will happen if you don't eat after a workout or eat something light? This is the biggest mistake you could do! This can lead to loss of muscle mass. Most women don’t eat after working out in order to lose weight faster. But this way you are only losing muscle tissue and causing inflamed tendons. That's because your body remains in a catabolic state and if you don't feed it, it starts breaking down it's own tissues for nutrients.
Sometimes we think postworkout meal is pointless. We think we will only gain weight. But as you can see this couldn't be any further from the truth. All food you ingest after workout (when measured correctly) goes to restore glycogen and recover muscles. When calories are calculated based on your goals (gaining or losing weight), you will achieve good results. No matter if you want to gain or lose weight, this meal is key to achieving your goals.
Sample postworkout meal for losing weight:
Immediately after workout: 1 dose of whey protein;
45 minutes after workout: 200 grams of rice + 100 grams of chicken breasts
Sample post workout meal for gaining weight:
Immediately after workout: 200-300 grams of banana + 1 dose of whey protein
45 minutes after workout: 300 grams of rice + 1 tablespoon of olive oil + 130 grams of chicken breasts