Hey guys! Happy Friday! Do you have any exciting plans for the weekend? I have Fridays off, so it's already the weekend for me, but it's not very exciting - I'm spending the day studying for my 3 midterms next week. Eek!
But I'm taking a break to post about something I mentioned in my last post - how my Sports Nutrition class has influenced my approach to fueling. For the past few years I would often wait a few hours after a workout to eat again, depending on what time my workout was. I always knew this was a no-no, but I never cared enough to change it until my sports nutrition class convinced me.
As you may or may not know, the purpose of refueling after exercise is to replenish your muscle glycogen, which are your body's energy stores. By filling them up, you're ensuring that you have adequate stores to fuel you through your next exercise session. This will help you perform faster, stronger, and last longer until you feel fatigued.
This is what peaked my interest - especially since I'm hoping to increase my running mileage! So now I eat almost immediately after exercise.
If I have more than 2 hours until my next meal, I'll have a more substantial snack like a smoothie or Greek yogurt and a banana.
But often when I workout in the mornings, I finish around 10:30 am, and I usually eat lunch around 11:30 or 12. So I just need something small like half a banana and some almonds.
So why do we have to eat right after exercise? Won't eating a few hours later still replenish your energy stores?
Well, there are two stages in which your body makes glycogen:
1. Rapid phase: this occurs within 30 to 60 minutes after exercise
2. Slow phase: lasts for several hours after exercise
Your body can make that glycogen a lot faster if you get in some fuel within that 30-60 minute window because that's when the enzyme that makes glycogen is working the fastest. And your body will be even more effective at making that glycogen if your post-workout snack is a combination of carbs and protein. The ideal ratio is about 75% carbs to 25% protein.
Some good post-workout snacks that fit this ratio include:
- A small banana with 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 3/4 cup of cheerios with 1 cup of skim milk
- One piece of whole wheat toast with 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 10 whole wheat crackers with 1 oz cheddar cheese
- 1 Larabar
I also learned some other cool facts about post-workout fueling:
- Fructose does not replace muscle glycogen as well as other sugars, so fruit may not be the best post-workout snack (note: bananas are actually quite starchy, so they are still a good choice)
- It makes no difference whether you have a few large meals or if you nibble throughout the day within the 24 hours after exercise - both resulted in the same levels of glycogen storage
- It makes no difference whether your post-workout fuel is solid or liquid
- Eating foods with a higher glycemic index (GI) after exercise results in increased glycogen storage - this is because the glucose in high GI foods is more quickly absorbed, so it can get to your muscles much faster
Now that I know all this, I feel like I have a much better approach to refueling. Maybe now I'll be able to run a 7 minute mile? ;)
What's your approach to refueling after a workout? Do you do it right away?
What are your favourite post-workout snacks?