Post Workout Refueling

Monday July 14, 2014

Is it necessary to eat immediately following your workout? Unless you are performing high intensity activities, or training for a long distance race, probably not.

Yoni Freedhoff, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, states that the physiological need for replenishment after exercise is usually minimal. For those looking to lose weight, the post workout meal could prevent them from achieving their goals. In my experience many exercisers who are looking to lose weight often use their exercise as an excuse to eat more. Their frustration due to lack of results often makes them resent working out, and the whole process falls apart.

One common problem is the overestimating of calories that one needs after an exercise bout. Most typical workouts will not burn enough calories to support a binge meal afterwards. Jennifer Gibson, registered dietician at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, says that as you become more physically fit your body becomes more efficient. This efficiency results in fewer calories being burned during a bout of exercise; subsequent changes in post workout nutrition must be addressed.

Brad Schoenfeld, director of the Human Performance Lab at CUNY Lehman College in New York, despels two rumors regarding the timing of eating after exercise. He says that “waiting more than an hour to eat after exercise really doesn’t affect your ability to build muscle.” Additionally, Schoenfeld says that ingesting carbohydrates quickly after a workout to restock glycogen (carbohydrate in your muscles that fuels exercise) is really only crucial for athletes who perform multiple workouts per day.

Depending on the type of exercise you’re doing, it may be necessary to add a post workout SNACK. That snack should not be more than 250-300 calories and should contain both protein and carbohydrates. A few examples include greek yogurt, fresh fruit with nuts or low fat peanut butter with carrots or celery. While protein bars are often more convenient, their ingredient lists often look like a science experiment and often contain way more calories than are needed.