When you work out, your body burns lots of energy in a short time span. While the human body is naturally strong and resilient, and it can recover amazingly quickly from workout stress and minor injuries, it needs your help to do so. Your vegan lifestyle can translate easily into post workout recovery.
Just as workout coaches always emphasize the importance of warming up before a workout and cooling down when you are finishing your workout, so do nutrition professionals advocate for choosing the right diet to support you before, during and after a workout.
In this article, learn how to know you are getting the right balance of nutrients for your post-workout meals and snacks without sacrificing your vegan lifestyle.
What Happens to Your Body When You Work Out
According to Authority Nutrition, when you work out your body heavily accesses its energy stores.
Very Well explains how the body stores energy in the liver in the form of glycogen. Glycogen is the body's main way of storing fuel, and the average body can only store about 2,000 calories of it at one time. Glycogen is made from carbohydrates, so anytime you eat more carbohydrates than your body needs for fuel at that time, it will sock away the extra until it reaches its 2,000 calorie storage limit.
So now imagine you are doing a workout, and at the end, you have burned 500 calories of glycogen. Your body will now want to replenish its lost glycogen to prepare for your next workout. If you don't give it what it needs to restock its stored energy you run the risk of injury and illness.
When & How to Eat Properly to Keep Your Body Healthy After Workouts
According to Eat Right, when you eat before and after a workout is as important as what you eat.
You don't want to eat right before you work out, of course, because you risk gastrointestinal distress (or worse!) during your workout if you do.
You also don't want to eat immediately after your workout so your body has a bit of time to cool down. However, you don't want to delay eating too long either because your body starts trying to repair minor injuries right away and it needs carbohydrates and proteins to do that.
So here is what to do to support your body before, during and after a workout:
- Eat one to three hours prior.
- Eat carbohydrates with proteins.
- Think "snack portion," not "meal portion."
Examples might include oatmeal with a sprinkle of protein powder, dairy-free yogurt with nuts or an apple with vegan nut butter.
- Eat within 15 to 30 minutes after your workout.
- Again, eat carbohydrates with proteins.
- Think "small meal" portion.
Examples might include a tofu wrap with whole grain tortilla, coconut milk yogurt with berries, or a smoothie with banana and vegan peanut butter. If you are pressed for time, arranging in advance for an organic meal delivery will ensure you have the right nutrients available right when you need them.
You should also be sure to rehydrate your body fully since you will sweat out your water stores along with essential electrolytes while you are working out.
A Word About Dehydration & Rehydration
Whether you are an occasional or serious competitive athlete, you should never let yourself forget about the dangers of getting dehydrated. Your body needs hydration as much as it needs nutrition to perform at its best.
Before your workout, drink 24 ounces of water or electrolyte drink two hours before, and five more ounces 30 minutes before.
After your workout, drink another 24 ounces of water or electrolyte drink right away. If you have lost more than one pound of water weight during your workout, drink another 24 ounces for each pound lost.
By following these nutrition guidelines, your body can recover quickly from each workout the vegan way.