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Guest blog: How to refuel after working out


Posted by Laura Peifer of Mommy Run Fast under Nutrition on 11 October 2012 at 11:00 PM

Laura P has been hooked on running for over a decade! She's mastered the art of training whilst balancing a healthy family life; her daughter is her number 1 fan and shouts encouragement from the front of the stroller - 'Mommy, Run Fast!' - which lead to Laura sharing her fitness techniques through her blog. Here, she is teaching us about great ways to refuel after training:

After a hard workout, we know the importance of re-fueling.  But does it really matter what you eat? Or when? What if you’re not hungry?

Re-fueling is about more than answering those hunger pangs.  By timing your recovery meal well and eating the right mix of carbs and protein, you can speed along your recovery and rebuild muscle tissue so your body will be ready to perform well in your next workout.

When to eat? Timing is crucial.  During exercise, your body is breaking down fat, protein and glycogen to provide energy, but it continues to do so when you’re finished unless you stop the process by refueling your muscles.  

Begin re-hydrating immediately, and whenever possible begin re-hydrating throughout your workout as well to replace any fluids that were lost.

About 30-60 minutes post-workout is the ideal window when your muscles are ready and able to absorb nutrition.  This leaves just enough time for a quick shower or drive home from the gym.  Waiting more than two hours can result in 50% less glycogen stored in your muscles, which can impair your performance in your next workout. 

What to eat? Carbohydrates are your body’s most important source of energy.  Consuming carbs post-workout will stimulate insulin production which aids in the production of muscle glycogen. 

However, combining carbohydrates with protein can double the insulin response.  Protein will also help rebuild muscle tissue damage and can help boost your immunity.

The ideal ratio for refueling after an endurance workout is a 4:1 carb to protein ratio.  A small snack is sufficient, and you can follow it up with a larger meal an hour or two later.  

Some good options include:

  • One egg in a tortilla (optional avocado and tomato slices on top)
  • Banana with nut butter and handful of raisins

  • Tortilla roll up with nut butter and sliced banana

  • Yogurt topped with cereal, oats or granola and berries

  • Chocolate milk and a half bagel with cream cheese

If you are unable to stomach food, smoothies are a great option to start the recovery process.   Use milk or plain yogurt to add protein, or protein powder.  Some possible smoothie combinations include:

  • Berry Green Smoothie: Berries, banana, 1 c. yogurt and handful of fresh spinach

  • PB Chocolate Smoothie: 1 Tbsp Nut butter, banana, 1 c. chocolate milk 

  • Peaches and Cream: 1 c. sliced peaches, 1 c.  vanilla yogurt, dash vanilla

  • Chocolate Raspberry: 1 c. frozen raspberries, ½ banana, 1 c. almond milk, ½ scoop chocolate protein powder

  • Orange creamsicle: 1 orange, 1 c. diary or almond milk, 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder