The Right Carbohydrates for Post Workout
When thinking of post workout recovery, many people focus solely on getting protein. In addition to muscle building protein your body also needs carbohydrates to repair and replenish muscles. While completing high intensity exercises your body uses up the glycogen stored in your muscles. Glycogen is replenished by fast acting carbohydrates. There are many healthy carbohydrate options that replenish glycogen and help sustain future workouts. Simple carbohydrates, such as fruit, white rice, and fruit juice, act quickly to replenish glycogen lost during your workout. Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, quinoa, or whole-grain bread, are a healthy part of any diet and should be consumed throughout the day.
The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends 0.3g-0.7g of carbohydrates for each pound of bodyweight following an intense workout. For a 150-pound woman that would translate to 45-105g, for a 185-pound man that would be 55.5g-129.5g. Depending on your fitness goals multiple meals may be needed to replenish glycogen.
There are many easy to grab carbohydrates:
- Bananas offer 30g of carbohydrates as well as replenishing potassium that your body loses through sweat.
- A medium baked potato contains 37g of carbohydrates while remaining relatively low calorie at 194.
- Fill up an 8oz glass of orange juice for a hefty dose of vitamin C and 24g of carbohydrates.
- A childhood favorite, ¼ cup of raisins boasts 32g of carbohydrates for 120 calories.
- ¾ cup of Honey Nut Cheerios mixed with 5oz of vanilla Greek yogurt provides 31g of carbohydrates.
- One medium sweet potato has 23g of carbohydrates for only 100 calories
- 2 ½ cups of air popped popcorn contain 70 calories and 16g of carbohydrates, popcorn can be topped with cinnamon, Parmesan cheese, or curry powder to increase flavor.
Liquid carbohydrates are very popular among athletes, including smoothies, gels & sports drinks.
- Gatorade offers Carb Energy Drink to be consumed post workout with 120 calories and 30g of carbohydrates
- Gu Energy Gel is for consumption during and after workouts for 100 calories and 22g of carbohydrates.
- Jelly Belly Sport Beans Recovery Crisps provide a mix of 10g of protein and 20g of carbohydrates.
- A quick smoothie could include 8oz of apple juice (110 calories, 28g carbohydrates), ½ a medium banana (105, 30g), ½ of a pear, and ½-1 cup of ice blended for 30-45 seconds on high. This smoothie comes in at 193 calories and 54g of carbohydrates.
The most important aspect of a post workout meal is timing. Your meal or snack should be consumed as close to your workout as possible, ideally within 30 minutes of completion. The enzymes that help repair muscles are most active during the first 15 minutes post exercise. Replenishing glycogen quickly also helps prevent delayed onset muscle soreness. Remember that proper recovery and nutrition is an important part of your 7-Min fitness journey.