First off, the ideal time to eat after a workout is within 30 minutes to two hours, this is
when your body is ready and waiting to top off its fuel tanks to prepare for your next
workout. Studies have shown that the two hours after exercise are the most critical for
post-workout nutrition for muscle growth, repair, and recovery. Do not eat more
than you just put out with your exercise. Don't think you can eat just anything because
you worked out.
Get in the habit of carrying your post food with you. There are many simple things that
will fit in your gym bag (see some of the 'Sample Food Combos' below). Perhaps stop
off and get a smoothie, or chocolate milk, and/or energy bar. Energy bars can be
especially effective snacks after a workout.
If you’re eating a healthy diet and getting enough calories to support your activity level,
you can probably rely on your own appetite, energy levels, and experience to tell you
whether you need to eat anything before or after exercise and what it should be. The
basic rule here is: Find out what works best for you, and do that.
Rule of Thumb... After you exercise, your body needs to replace the lost glycogen stores
(i.e. muscle fuel) for building and repairing muscle. Combining protein and carbohy-
drates will promote post-workout recovery. Choose wisely, though, or you surely will
undo your hard work! And don’t forget to re-hydrate! (see 'Your Post-Exercise Fluid
Your Post-Exercise Fluid Needs
Most moderate exercisers will lose about one quart (4 cups) of fluid per hour of exercise,
so try to drink about 16-20 ounces of water shortly after your workout to aid the
recovery process. If you sweat a lot or the weather is hot and/or humid, consider
weighing yourself before and after exercise, and drinking an ounce of water for every
ounce of weight you've lost. Because heavy sweating also causes loss of minerals and
electrolytes, consider using a sports drink with electrolytes if you need to replace more
than 2-3 cups of fluid. If you are a post Gatorade drinker, then dilute it with 1/2 water.
Sample Food Combinations for your Post Exercise Meal:
· Dried fruit and nuts
· Low fat or fat free cottage cheese with fruit
· Fruit juice with cheese
· Yogurt with fruit (preferably Activia or the likes of it)
· Chocolate milk (that is high in protein)
· Cereal with milk (shredded wheat)
· Oatmeal with berries
· Eggs and high fiber toast
· Turkey, chicken, or roast beef sandwich
· Crackers with low fat cheese
· Smoothie (with added whey protein powder)
· Energy bar high in protein
· Whole wheat pancakes and eggs
· Peanut butter (organic) & banana on high fiber toast
· Yogurt & berries
· Apple wedges & peanut butter
· Low fat or fat free cheese & whole grain crackers
· Any regular meal that contains lean protein, starch, and vegetables
Eating too much of the wrong thing can do the opposite of what you want — to cause
your body to store that food as fat instead of using your post-workout food to refuel
and repair your muscles.
Calories. Ideally, try to eat enough calories to equal 50% of the calories you burned
during your workout. So if you burn about 600 calories during your workout, try to eat
300 calories afterward.
Don’t worry about undoing the calorie-burning benefits of your workout–that’s not how
weight loss works. As long as you're eating within your recommended calorie range
(whether for weight loss or maintenance), you'll be on your way to reaching your goals.
Carbohydrates. Roughly 60% of the calories you eat at this time should come from
carbohydrates. Contrary to popular belief, your body needs more carbohydrates than
protein after a workout, to replace the muscle fuel (glycogen) you used up and to
prepare for your next exercise session. Moderate exercisers need about 30-40 grams of
carbohydrates after an hour of exercise, but high-intensity exercisers need more—around
50-60 grams for each hour they exercised.
If you have some favorite high-carb foods that are lacking in the whole grains and fiber
that are often recommended as part of a healthy diet, this is a good time to have them!
Your body can digest refined carbohydrates faster during your "refueling window," but if
you’re a whole foods foodie, don’t force yourself to eat processed foods.
Protein. While carbs are essential, it’s also important to include some high-quality protein
in your post-workout meal or snack. This protein will stop your body from breaking down
muscle tissue for energy and initiate the process of rebuilding and repairing your muscles.
About 25% of the calories you eat after a workout should come from protein—that's
about 10-15 grams for most people.
Fat. Fat doesn't play a big role in post-workout recovery, and eating too much fat after
a workout won't help your weight control or fitness endeavors. Only 15% (or less) of your
post-workout calories should come from fat—that's less than 10 grams.
As a moderate exerciser, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to timing your meals
and choosing your foods. The most important thing is getting to know your body and how
it responds to exercise, so that you can give it what it needs to perform at its best.
Eating the right things at the right times after you work out is essential to keeping your
energy up, your workout performance high, and your body in fat-burning mode.
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY JOE LEINHAUSER/IRONGLOVES BOXING