We know that food is one of the fundamental pillars of fitness, and nobody can deny its importance and its influence on our body composition, our performance, our health, and our mood.
In addition to all this, our diet determines, in particular, our ability to recover after training. Logically, we can't assess on a case-by-case basis what each has to eat, but do you know how you should feed yourself after exercise?
Carbohydrates vs. proteins: the eternal debate
For some time, there has been a dichotomy between consuming proteins or carbohydrates after exercise, when in nutrition nothing is black or white, but there is a larger grayscale than we can imagine today.
The truth is that post-training intake depends on characteristics such as the training itself, the time that has passed since the previous consumption, the amount and type of macronutrients ingested in the last intake. But we do not have to choose to consume carbohydrates or proteins exclusively, but we must know how we can optimize our diet by having both simultaneously.
Two particular recommendations regarding post-training intake:
On the one hand, to reach our carbohydrate intake we can resort to the consumption of foods such as potatoes, legumes, fruit, whole grains, milk and yoghurt, while to eat a sufficient amount of protein we can opt for the consumption of eggs, dairy products, meat and fish, and to a lesser extent also through nuts, legumes, and cereals.
Supplementation is dispensable if the diet is adequate
One thing that has been taken for granted is that protein shakes are strictly necessary to improve and that you must eat immediately after training.
Moreover, we have to know that sports supplementation is entirely dispensable if the diet is adequate. Except for certain cases such as supplements like creatine or beta-alanine, whose amounts with positive effects on sports performance are practically impossible to ingest by an average person. Or in the case of high-level athletes who need high amounts of calories.
Protein shakes are still just that; protein powder and this protein can be consumed without any problem through the foods we have discussed previously.
Also, it depends above all on two variables; the time we have not eaten and the type and amount of nutrients ingested in the last intake.
If the intake before training has been relatively small, it is worth not separating the post-training intake more than 3 - 4 hours, but if the previous meal has involved a substantial consumption of energy, we can extend it to 5 - 6 hours later.
In any case, even if we postpone this intake a little longer, our recovery will merely not be optimal or the fastest, but this will not necessarily cause us to lose our precious muscle mass.
One last piece of advice
One thing that usually works quite well is to reserve most of the carbohydrates (and calories in general) that you are going to eat for pre-training intake and post-training intake, especially for post-training intake. Although, the main thing is going to be how much you eat and what you eat when you eat; it can also have some importance especially in people with a high level of training.