What to Eat After Exercise: A Look at Protein Through Milk

Eating After Exercise

Exercise plays a crucial role in sustaining the body’s good health, but not everyone works out just because it’s good for them. Others push themselves to the limit in pursuit of sports or personal development. This process involves more than the physical exertion of the exercise, however — individuals must also pay close attention to how they feed themselves. “Food is fuel” might sound like just another catchy truism, but the reality is that what and when you eat in relation to exercise has an impact on the results you experience.

From contributing the nutrients your body needs to repair and build new muscle to fighting off fatigue, what you eat makes a difference. What is the science behind muscle development? How can wholesome nutrients such as milk-derived protein form an essential part of your exercise-related diet? Let’s explore those answers and more.


How Your Body Develops Stronger Muscles

Consider a type of exercise such as strength training, which focuses on developing the muscles by working entire groups at once with strenuous activities. When you exert your muscles with these exercises, they use up critical glycogen stores for the energy necessary to lift those heavy weights. A byproduct of this process is lactic acid, the substance responsible for muscle soreness the next day. Simultaneously, the exertion causes “damage” to the muscle fibers as proteins break down under strain. Afterward, your body naturally begins the automatic process of repairing these muscle fibers, joining them, and creating new tissue. The result: stronger muscles with greater mass.


Fighting Fatigue: Why You Should Eat After Working Out

Your muscles need to consume a large amount of their glycogen stores to support the high level of activity found in most workouts. There’s only so much your body can use at once, which is why every session eventually has to end. Replenishing the energy stores consumed by the muscles during exercise as soon as possible is the key to avoiding the post-workout “crash” and feelings of total energy loss. So what should you eat to support post-workout recovery?

Most fitness experts suggest consuming a small snack shortly after you conclude your workout. The snack should include both carbohydrates, the body’s most basic resource for creating energy, and protein. Some options include yogurt or a recovery smoothie or milkshake that includes protein supplement powders to make sure your body gets the right nutrients. The carbohydrates will contribute to replenishing glycogen, but what does protein do?


What Role Does Protein Play in Your Recovery?

The body needs the right nutrients to foster the redevelopment of muscle fibers and the development of new muscle mass. While carbs give your body fuel to burn, they don’t give it the building blocks it needs to start the process. To put it another way, you have the gasoline to run the construction equipment, but nothing to build with — until you consume some protein.

Amino acids make up all proteins, and the body has processes for breaking down these proteins into free amino acids, which are then used for new protein synthesis. By receiving a protein infusion right away, your body’s rebuilding process can begin without delay.


The Benefits of Milk Proteins for Workout Recovery

What makes milk proteins, in particular, so ideal for post-workout recovery? Found in some yogurts as a functional ingredient and as the primary ingredient in protein concentrate based on whey or casein, milk proteins provide a robust amino acid profile. Both contain essential amino acids — those which the body cannot produce from other food sources and thus are “essential” for the basic processes of the body.

For post-workout recovery, whey protein concentrates are most common. The body quickly digests whey and makes it available for use rapidly, supporting a faster recovery. On the other hand, casein products digest more slowly, providing a time-release of amino acids for longer-lasting action. Products based on ultra-filtered milk protein concentrate, which contain both whole whey and casein proteins, ensure that the athlete’s body has ample support for recovery immediately and long after exercise.


Learn and Explore More About Post-Workout Nutrition for Better Results

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to benefit from eating immediately after a workout. No one says you have to sit down for a full meal, but a single helping of Greek yogurt or a protein shake enhanced with milk proteins? Those could provide your body with the building blocks it needs while contributing to feeling less exhaustion.

Combined with proper cool-down techniques and stretching, you might even avoid some of the typical soreness that follows heavy exertion. Supporting the body with wholesome proteins from natural sources such as milk is a simple way to promote better wellness. Explore more information about dairy and sports nutrition here!