Okay – we know there are a lot more people in the gym working-out as part of their new year’s resolution of getting back in shape, and perhaps losing a few pounds. But don’t feel like you need to starve yourself after a trip to the gym; in fact, you shouldn’t. So, what should you eat after a workout and why should you eat? Well, here are some simple answers.
For starters, the bottom line for getting bottom line results is this; you need to eat fewer calories than you burn — but not fewer than your body needs to function at its best. The optimal time to eat after your workout is anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. Now, we understand that your busy schedule, or your family’s busy schedule, might not allow you to eat at those periods of time, but there are a few things you can ingest if you’re on the go. For example, try these quick fixes:
- Chocolate milk – always a winner from our friends in America’s Dairyland
- Energy bars – keep a supply in your purse, gym bag or glove compartment
- Smoothies & Shakes – some gyms have smoothie bars
- Bags of pre-washed, pre-cut vegetables – available in every grocery and convenience store
If you do have time to eat, make sure you have time to replenish your body with fluids, too. Recreational exercisers lose four cups of fluid for every hour they workout so try to drink 16- 20 ounces of water after your session. If you perspire a lot or if it’s particularly hot outside, consider consuming some sports drink or electrolytes as that’s what sweating does – it causes a loss of minerals and electrolytes.
Now, what should you eat? Carbohydrates. Approximately 60% of the calories you should eat, according to experts, should come from carbs. The rest should come from protein (25%) and fats (15% or less). If you exercise moderately for an hour, you’ll want to consume 30 -40 grams of carbohydrates, but if you’re a hard-driver, you’ll need between 50 – 60 grams. Here are a few ideas for your post-exercise meal:
- Bagel, toast or English muffin
- Pancakes and eggs with breakfast potatoes
- Eggs, toast and potatoes
- Yogurt and fruit
- Cereal and fruit
- Turkey, ham or chicken sandwich
- Cottage cheese and vegetables or fruit
- Crackers and cheese
And speaking of breakfast potatoes, try this really simple recipe for crispy potatoes and eggs: http://eatwisconsinpotatoes.com/rbook/recipe/view/3428.