Getting active through exercising can really burn more calories faster, so it’s no surprise that after such physical activity, one would feel hungry and look for something to fill in their stomach. Refuelling your body is ideal if done correctly, but is it counter-productive to eat immediately after working out? There are many myths and facts about eating after a workout, and finding the ideal post-workout grub is essential in order to maximize the benefits. The following delves into the myths and facts associated with eating after a workout and provides a recommendation.
Myths & Facts About Post-Workout Grub
Myth #1: Eating Immediately After a Workout Will Cause You to Gain Weight
This myth suggests that immediately eating after a workout will negate the efforts of all the hard work that was done during the workout session, i.e. the calories that were lost will instead be gained. This is patently FALSE.
FACT: Working out creates a metabolic state in the body called ‘Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption’ (EPOC) that continues burning calories and getting rid of fat even after the workout; so eating immediately after a workout won’t cause you to gain weight.
Myth #2: Eating After a Workout Is Not Necessary
Some mistakenly believe that if they don’t consume food immediately after a workout, the nutrients won’t reach their muscles and therefore be wasted.
FACT: On the contrary, this is untrue; the nutrients that are needed for muscle growth will still be available to the body up to four hours after the work-out. So while there are no immediate consequences to skipping the post-workout grub, it is still essential to refuel your body with the right kinds of food in the right time-frame to optimize the effects of the workout.
Myth #3: Too Much Protein is Always Bad
Getting adequate amounts of protein is always recommended, but successfully maintaining good health means eating in balance, not in excess. Too much protein may cause strain on the kidneys and may lead to elevated cholesterol levels.
FACT: Recommended dietary allowance of protein is around 1.0-1.5 g per kg of body weight. Eating quality foods with appropriate amounts of protein is the way to go.
Myth #4: Eating Carbs After a Workout Will Make You Gain Weight
Carbohydrates are a preferred fuel source for athletes and active people. Restricting carbohydrates after a workout could lead to fatigue and cravings. Consuming carbohydrates in the right amounts and after a workout is beneficial, as long as it is accompanied by protein intake.
FACT: After a workout, consuming the right amount of carbohydrates and some protein could actually help the restoration process, reduce delayed onset muscle soreness and optimize the body’s ability to build muscle and burn fat.
Myth #5: You Should Refrain from Eating Anything After a Workout
It’s true that eating nothing after a workout is better than indulging in unhealthy processed food or junk food after, but it’s important to realize that some kind of nutrition is essential to re-fuel the body for a healthier metabolic system and better results.
FACT: Eating something appropriate after a workout is essential in order to replenish energy stores, repair and build muscle tissue and allow the body to recover as quickly as possible.
As for the best post-workout grub, it’s essential to keep the timing, nutrient composition and portion sizes in mind to optimize the benefits. The ideal meal would include protein (such as lean chicken or nut butter); carbohydrates (whole grain bread, rice, sweet potato or fruit); and some healthy fats (such as avocado, olives, or nuts and seeds.)
All together, in portion-controlled sizes, this will help give your body the energy and nutrients it needs. Eating within two hours of your workout is the best way to maximise the benefits, so plan ahead and have your post-workout meal ready and waiting.
In summary, there are many myths and facts about eating after a workout and it can be difficult to find the ideal post-workout grub to maximize the benefits. The myths suggest that eating immediately after a workout will cause one to gain weight and eating an excessive portion of proteins can be unhealthy; however, both of these are false.
The facts emphasise the importance of eating after a workout, either in the form of food or a smoothie, to replenish energy stores and accelerate the recovery process. The ideal post-workout grub would include carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats in portion-controlled size and should be eaten within two hours of the workout.