Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Keeping It Real: What To Eat After Exercise

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Fruit?  Yoghurt?  Your next meal?  What do you eat after exercise?

If you are worried that I am about to suggest a great big plate of greens, don’t be!  Much as I enjoy salads and broccoli, this is definitely not what I am reaching for immediately after exercise.

It actually depends completely on what you’ve just done, don’t you think?  If you find that you channel your brain after an exercise session trying desperately to suppress all yearnings for anything that resembles food, then stop right there!  Listen to your body, or should I say that growling tummy?  If you have been out there hot on your heels (or trainers should I say), working the streets and burning some serious energy, then this energy will need replacing.

If you exercise to burn off extra curves then you still need to eat or you’ll only end up over eating the next time you do eventually choose to eat.
After strenuous exercise, the most important thing might actually be to replace fluids.  If you weigh yourself pre and post strenuous activity on a hot day, there could be a difference between ½ to a kilogram or more.  

This sadly will not be body fat, but fluids lost from exercise.  So you’ll need to replace these precious fluids to avoid dehydration.

What next?  I may choose something light like yoghurt which is a great combination of carbs and protein.  You may prefer to dive straight away into your evening meal or breakfast if you exercise in the morning.  This is also an excellent post exercise solution.

Either way, don’t over think it.  If you just want a drink and something light like a piece of toast with a bit of peanut butter, fine dig in. 

Your choices really will depend entirely on your nutrition and exercise goals.  After high intense exercise of 60 minutes or more, always hydrate and fuel up with energy .  

Think of your body like a car, which needs to be topped up with fuel after a drive.  Your body works in exactly the same way.  

After a high intensity workout, even if you are aiming for negative energy balance to facilitate weight loss, it is still beneficial to eat a small snack such as low fat yoghurt, a banana, or a glass of reduced fat flavoured milk and so on to avoid over eating later at a meal.

However, if you’ve just been out for a 30 minute walk and your goal is weight loss, then you may wish to reach for the fruit bowl after making yourself a cup of tea or you may end up fuelling an already ‘full’ engine.  

Remember, If you haven’t burned it, then you don’t need it.  Walk out of that kitchen and reward your hard work with something that isn’t food.

Purple Tip - If you plan to exercise the next morning pre-breakfast, then eat a balanced meal of slow releasing carbohydrate foods, protein and vegetables the night before.  

Consider a sports drink consisting of 5-6% of carbohydrate to drink during exercise to improve your performance in the morning.  This is especially useful if your exercise session is of high intensity lasting more than an hour and you did not manage a pre-workout snack.  Always eat breakfast afterwards.

So it’s not set in stone what to eat after exercise.  The message is eat something, whether it be a light snack such as fruit or yoghurt or your next meal such as breakfast or dinner.  

Just think, are you filling up more than what your tank has just used up, or just enough to keep your engine humming along happily during the day?  Think about it.

What do you eat lovely readers, after a work-out?