Eating the right foods in the right proportions after your ab workout will help build lean muscle and allow you to recover more quickly, says certified sports nutritionist Brian St. Pierre. Plan to eat your post-workout meal within one hour of exercising if you didn't eat much before your workout and no more than two hours later if you had a hearty pre-workout feast. Ask a sports nutritionist if you need help designing post-workout meals that can help advance your exercise goals.
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Don't Skimp on Protein
The ideal post-workout meal supplies a man with 40 to 60 grams of protein, or approximately two palm-sized servings, and a woman with 20 to 30 grams from a single palm-sized serving, says St. Pierre. Good choices include a smoothie containing low- or nonfat milk and protein powder; lean cuts of beef or pork; skinless poultry; tofu; beans and legumes; or eggs and egg substitutes. Avoid fatty cuts of meat like regular ground beef and opt for grilling, roasting or broiling over frying.
Have Some Carbohydrates
The carbohydrates in your post-workout meal will help rebuild glycogen stores you depleted while exercising. Go for fresh fruits and vegetables, low or nonfat dairy products and whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, barley, quinoa, whole-wheat bread or whole-grain pasta. If you're a man, aim to consume two total servings of grains or fruits, such as 1 cup of cooked brown rice and 1 cup of fresh blueberries, along with two servings of vegetables such as steamed or stir-fried broccoli, carrots, onions and bell peppers. Women should have one serving each of vegetables and carbohydrate-rich foods.
Limit the Fat
While a balanced post-workout meal shouldn't contain too much fat, a moderate amount of mono- and polyunsaturated choices is necessary for you to better absorb fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, E and K from your food. Cook your vegetables in olive oil or have a salad drizzled with an olive oil-based vinaigrette. Tuck slices of ripe avocado into a whole-wheat sandwich or vegetable omelet. Grill fatty fish like salmon or tuna, spread celery sticks or apple slices with sugar-free nut butter or simply eat a handful of nuts. Steer clear of butter, lard, full-fat dairy products and processed foods containing trans fats.
Rehydrate With Water
Drink plenty of water after working out your abs. If you don't, you'll be more likely to become dehydrated and go into your next round of exercise without having consumed enough fluids. Doing this may inhibit your performance and the rate at which you see progress. Consume at least 2 cups of fluid with your post-workout meal and more if you've exercised hard enough to lose several pounds from sweat. Keep drinking water throughout the remainder of the day.