What you eat after exercise has a significant impact on the effectiveness of your training owing to the way it acts on the regeneration processes. It is worth to pay close attention to both the quantitative and qualitative selection of products and methods of preparation of a meal itself in order to take full advantage of the so called "anabolic window". This will help to maximise your progress by providing an adequate dose of all components important for the proper post-exercise recovery.
Principle # 1: do not wait
Although there is absolutely no need to eat a meal immediately after finishing your training session, an excessive delay in consumption is in fact not reasonable. Post-training meal is best to be eaten about 30-60 minutes after the end of your workout. This allows you to get right in the moment when your digestive tract is already working efficiently, but at the same time does not unproductively waste time on unnecessary fast.
Principle # 2: Make use of synergy
Instead of wondering if first you must eat protein or carbohydrates it is best to just eat a meal that contains both of these nutrients. Why? Well, because research suggests that such a solution results in summation of benefits from the adoption of carbs and proteins separately. Proportions between these components should be defined individually, taking into account the specific nature of your training and the overall plan of your diet.
Principle # 3: it may but it doesn't have to be protein powder
There is no doubt that having a carbohydrate-protein cocktail is a convenient and quite sensible way to quickly provide your organism nutrients after you finish your workout. Introduction of such solutions should be primarily considered by people who are not able to have a conventional meal within an hour after they leave the gym. However, you shouldn't go crazy and favour supplements over regular food; contrary to advertising they are not a better form of food. They just have their own advantages, the biggest of which in this case is - convenience.
Principle # 4: focus on the complete protein
Especially in the post-exercise period it is important to provide the body with a full range of amino acids in the right proportions. This is possible by the inclusion of complete proteins in your post-workout meal the source of which are meat, eggs, fish and dairy products. A far weaker option is plant proteins, which are characterized not only by worse aminogram, but also weaker digestibility. So regardless of whether you are thinking about conventional foods or foods for athletes, it is best if the protein base in your after-workout diet is made of animal origin.