You’ve worked so hard. There’s no way you want to wreck your workout by putting junk -- or extra calories -- into your body after your workout. Instead, you want to refuel your body with quality nutrients that will help support the progress you’ve made. While there’s no magic drink that will help you lose weight on its own, there are a few beverages you can consume and tips you can follow to help replenish your muscles and make you stronger, facilitating a faster metabolism for weight loss.
Muscles and Calorie Burn
Muscle is a natural calorie burner. Because muscle requires more energy than fat simply to sustain itself, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will naturally burn. That’s why building muscle is so powerful for losing weight: It boosts your metabolic rate and helps you torch the calories you take in.
Building and Repairing Muscles
If you want to rev your metabolism by building muscles, you have to nourish them and help them grow. One of the best times to do this is directly after a workout. Your muscles develop microscopic tears when you challenge them and start repairing themselves immediately after you’re done. They need both carbs and protein to replace their energy stores and rebuild their fibers.
Time to Refuel
Immediately after a workout, you have a small window of time to maximize your muscle-building opportunity. According to “Shape" magazine, your body will automatically use the calories you eat for repair and recovery and not fat storage. The magazine reports that your body’s ability to refill muscle energy stores decreases by 50 percent if you wait to eat just two hours after your workout compared to eating right away. That’s why, if you want to make the most of your workout and help the muscles rebuild and grow, you need to take in some good calories soon after you’ve finished up your routine.
What to Drink
With a ton of sports drinks and shakes on the market, it can be very confusing to know what your body needs after a workout. A number of premade drinks on the market contain ideal blends of carbs and protein, but they can get expensive and contain far too many calories. Instead of paying the expense both of your pocketbook and waistline, make your own version at home. Try a smoothie made of fruit and either whey protein or lowfat yogurt. Aim for a drink of around 150 calories to replenish your body after an average workout. Be careful not to follow up with a high-calorie meal later; you still have to follow the basic rule of taking in fewer calories than you burn every day in order to lose weight. And don’t forget the most basic of all beverages: water. As one of your body’s most essential components, water is a must-have after you work out to replace lost fluids and help your body keep up its basic functions, including rebuilding muscle.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.