Refueling After a Workout

Whether you work up a sweat in the morning or evening, chances are you grab a little bite to eat before you hit the gym. A snack before your workout helps give you the energy and stamina to go the distance. But did you know that eating a snack after you workout is important too?

Fuel Time

No matter what time of day you exercise, the goal is to supply the body with immediate sources of protein and carbohydrates. After an exercise session your body uses the protein you eat to build and repair your muscles that were broken down as a result of your workout.

The carbohydrates are used to replenish energy stores that are depleted with strenuous activity. For best results, eat within 15 to 60 minutes after exercise, when muscles are most receptive. During this window, an increase in enzyme activity makes the body more efficient at storing glucose for energy and building protein in fatigued muscles. Your body will automatically use the calories you eat for repair and recovery, not for fat storage.

In fact, research shows 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.

Menu Options

So your next question might be what to eat? A turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread or a banana and plain yogurt are good, easy options. If you can’t stomach a lot of food after a workout, a better choice might be a liquid meal such as a sports drink or shake that contains protein and carbohydrates. While solid foods can work just as well as a sports drink, a drink may be easier to digest so the nutrients will get into your system fast, allowing for your body to jump-start the recovery process.

Whatever you do, don’t starve yourself after your workout. Take advantage of the metabolic and hormonal changes that happen post workout to refuel and enjoy a good meal.

About the Author
Georgelena Saborio
is an exercise physiologist and supervisor for the Employee Fitness Department at Baptist Health South Florida, a position she has held for 10 years.  Ms. Saborio received her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine.  At Baptist Health, she provides and oversees all fitness events and the Employee Fitness centers.  She has served as a member of the Chamber South Wellness Committee for four years, assisting and providing fitness programs and education to its members and the community.

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