POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 5, 2010
Have you ever considered what you eat after you work out?
When I say "work out," I mean exercise in general. Depending on your fitness level, a workout can be considered anything from a few circuits around Kahala Mall in the morning or a heavy set at the gym. Basically, if the activity makes you sweat and you feel tired and spent afterward, then you just worked out.
In order to benefit the most from the workout, however, you should seriously consider what you put into your body afterward. After exercise the body is in a broken-down state and is at its most efficient in absorbing nutrients. Think of it as a nutrient sponge waiting to soak up anything you pour into it. Feeding yourself properly in the post-workout state will optimize your body and make it better able to accomplish the goals you want it to achieve.
Here are a few things to consider in a post-workout recovery meal.
» Protein. Proteins are made of amino acids bonded together, which are used to repair the exercise-induced microscopic tears in muscles. Animal proteins are considered complete proteins, meaning they have all the essential amino acids the body does not produce naturally. They are also more easily absorbed than vegetable proteins. However, vegetable proteins can be considered as well, as long as you mix them up to get all the essential amino acids.
» Carbohydrates. In order to utilize amino acids for muscle repair, carbohydrates (glucose specifically) are needed to provide the energy to shuttle them to their appropriate places. As well, glucose produces an insulin spike that also helps the body to maximize amino acid use by acting as a growth hormone.
» What to eat. Protein shakes taken with a banana can fulfill the above requirements but are not always the best choice because of the high calories associated with them. An 8-ounce glass of skim milk would do just as well to serve your after-workout needs. A nonmeat alternative is available in the form of a peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich.
Whatever you choose, make sure your post-workout meal choice matches the intensity of your workout. If you just completed a ballistic power workout, a high-calorie, high glucose/protein meal is appropriate.
If your workout was a low-intensity walk, then a granola bar should cover your body's needs.
Reggie Palma is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer. See his website at fitnessatyourdoorhawaii.com.