As a health conscious (and calorically aware) human, I attempt to watch what I eat and mostly when I eat. I am aware that I should not be eating late at night (never later than 9 pm, some nights I am just so busy that I unfortunately find myself strapped for time to eat before then). I know that I should eat every 3-4 hours – even though that is partially done to be kind to those around me so that they do not have to experience my “hanger”. The question has always been for me, how soon should I eat after working out. I have heard an amalgam of thoughts on this subject. Most importantly, what types of food should I be eating post workout.
My mom is a bit of a nosy parker (sorry Mom, I know that you’re reading this…) and she told me that she wanted to look in to the reasoning behind eating immediately after a workout so that she could fully understand why she should be doing it. That got me thinking that I should look in to it as well. I ran my first 10k race this past weekend (I finished in 1:04:29, which isn’t bad considering that I didn’t really train) and as I partook in the post run bagels and bananas I wondered why there is such an emphasis on eating right after a run. Other than the usual grumblings that you should replenish an empty stomach and that your body simply needs energy. I am more interested in the mechanics/scientific notions behind this widely accepted suggestion.
When your muscles are worked out, they become torn down and fatigued in order to build new muscle. The glycogen in your body becomes depleted and as a result, your insulin sensitivity is at its very highest. It is important to ingest foods with high amounts of glucose to replenish the supply. This will actually help your recover your muscles and will expedite the process of repairing them (which means that your chances of being sore the next day lessen). Eating protein post workout responds to the breakdown of protein in your muscles and will help protein synthesis to occur faster.
There is a 30 minute to 1 hour window in which you should eat after a workout. A mixture of protein and carbohydrates have proven to reduce soreness the next day. This combination also helps muscle to build while being negligent of replenishing nutrient sources can actually lead to muscle atrophy. It also improves the storage of glycogen in the liver and muscles.
If you are worried about carbs, you should know that your metabolism is still going after you have been working out and they are not evil and turned in to fat when they are consumed after a workout. It is also needed to keep your central nervous system functioning.
So let’s put it simply then, you should try to eat a banana, a protein bar, milk, a peanut butter sandwich are all easy and viable options to eat after a workout. Refined sugars should be avoided, as should all the evil sugars like corn syrup!
So that is my wisdom for the day. Check out this action shot of me during my run this past weekend, my face is tomato red and it was raining so I had to wear a rain jacket that was too big for me but it was fun!
Let me know what you think about my wisdom and be healthy and smart my friends.