The best time to refuel is in the first hour after exercise, and you should combine carbs with protein. Why? Keep on reading!
Eat – and burn some fat:
You need to feed your muscles with carbs for energy – but not too much. You want to take advantage of the famous EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). EPOC uses fat as fuel long after you’re done exercising, for up to 24 h. Most of the fat burning occurs not during but after high-intensity workouts. But here’s the BUT: Keep your post-exercise carbs under 1 g carbohydrate per 1 kg bodyweight. Your muscles will also need some protein for growth and repair, about 1 g of protein per 4 g of carbs. I am 82 kg, so I would need about 80 g of carbs and 20 g of proteins.
Hit those numbers:
What food would hit those numbers and be easily available? For me, the popular hawker food of two half-boiled eggs with 2-3 slices of kaya toast would work well. Just take it easy on the butter and kaya, to keep total calories in check. If you prepare your own post-workout meal, you can choose whole grain bread and lean meats or fish, for a quality alternative. For example, a small slice of salmon or chicken breast with 1 ½ cups of rice hits those numbers too.
Eat – and gain some muscle:
If you want to gain muscles, you might want to take proteins before your workout as well. This enhances muscle growth more so than just eating afterwards. A standard protein shake before the workout will do the trick.
All in all – don’t be afraid of the food: If you want to exercise, you’ve got to eat!