By Elizabeth Legg
Many athletes ask what they should eat post workout. How you refuel your body depends on what you are demanding your body to do.
If you are working out once a day, your body has 24 hours to replenish muscle glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrate in the muscles), and take care of your muscles (repair and growth). Maintain a regular meal and snack intake pattern. Create meals and snacks with a foundation of carbohydrate and a source of protein (10-20gms per meal or snack). Keep the majority of your food choices high quality and nutrient dense. According to the World Health Organization, it’s ok to have up to 10% energy calories from added sugars in foods you choose. Ten percent of total calories is ~200-300 calories from sugar for most athletes. So if you’re one of those athletes who like to justify that glass of chocolate milk after a work out, go right ahead. Just remember your body needs more than carbohydrates and protein to recover (vitamins, minerals, etc.). Don’t let too many treats crowd out the nutrient dense foods that are necessary.
If you are doubling up on your workouts, you need to be more purposeful with timing your recovery snack/meal. The goal is to eat as soon as possible within the first hour after you finish your workout. You’ll still store/repair as described above over a 24 your period, but you also need to be sure and replete muscle glycogen and repair muscle before you next workout of the day. The sooner you consume carbohydrates with protein after your workout, the sooner you will be ready for your next adventure.
Recovery meal and snacks ideas with carbohydrates and 10-20gms protein:
Fruit smoothie made with Greek yogurt
Spaghetti with meatballs
Crackers with hummus
Turkey or tuna sandwich
Cereal with milk